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Planting vines. Have questions.

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BenK

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I am planting 3 marquette vines and replanting a concord vine I put in last year that made very little progress and then was damaged by severe wind. I am tearing out my trellis and replacing it with a GDC trellis
after hearing about grapeman's awesome success with the system. I am a total novice to growing anything. I live in Zone 5 Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Last year I planted Reliance and concord. Concord grey significant foliage but very little upward growth, Reliance hit the top wire but was damaged in severe winds and never bounced back late summer. It did not survive the winter.

This is my current plan:

1. Map out total area that will be occupied by the GDC trellis (24'x4') (6' vine spacing)
2. either build a berm down the center of the area marked for the trellis space or build up hills with packaged compost,
garden soil, and the native soil. I also have topsoil and gravel should they be necesary materials
3. plant the grapes and stake them
4. Build 2-3 GDC trellis posts. I've read 24' is the max you can run between posts. Not sure if a third (center) post will be needed
5. Dig postholes and install trellis posts.
6. Install earth anchors
7. Install wires. Use turnbuckles to tension wires during summer and remove tension during the winter.

My questions:
1. 2 or 3 posts for 24' of trellis?
2. Do I just use the 2 wires, one on each arm or do I add a high or mid wire for training purposes. I have seen diagrams with both.
3. My soil drainage is terrible. My backyard is muddy until late April/early May every year. I am ammending the soil at each planting site and building the soil up
I figure this is my only solution
4. Concrete mandatory for the posts?
5. Will large turnbuckles be able to adequately tension the trellis wire?
6. Where to buy grow tubes?
6. Any suggestions for planting on my heavy clay soil? Is digging out large holes and amending/building up adequate? How would you go about it if it were you?
 

Masbustelo

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If you already have your vines it is sort of a little late to prepare your soil. I have/had a somewhat similar situation with clay soil. I planted this spring three rows in GDC, the soil also is a clay soil. My soil tends to be fertile and productive but would be difficult for roots to penetrate and also has drainage issues. Last spring about this time I dug the rows up as raised beds. I dug them by hand (16 feet long) double digging and trench composting as I went. As I opened the trenches I backfilled them with wood chips. Later in the summer I redug them and worked the chips in uniformly. In the fall I gathered bagged leaves and redug and trench composted the rows with the leaves. All of this gave me a two foot seed bed sitting/floating on top of 12 inches of leaves (with another 12 inches of broken up sub-soil beneath it all). This spring I planted my vines and am currently pushing them with daily doses of compost tea. My concern is that temporarily I have tied up available nitrogen. For 3-4 days now I've given the tea and will give each vine a cup a day until i see the growth spurt and coloration I'm looking for. I have found it difficult to find much specific info on GDC, but it seems to me that minimally the rows need to be ten feet apart if the arms will be six feet high to avoid shading down the road. Even for the home practitioner. If I'm wrong I hope someone else will correct me.
 
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Masbustelo

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For tension you are better off with something called line strainers. They are easy to work with and cost $3.50 each. I would say use concrete with both the posts and the earth anchors. If you have sufficient space anchor your posts correctly and forget the earth anchors. https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstream/handle/1813/4190/bulletin811.pdf;jsessionid=CBEB6373273EAD59FEAF77CDAA89269D?sequence=1. Use the third post and err on the side of caution. The primary load and strain is carried by the end posts. Play it safe and over engineer to avoid catastrophic failure later. There are pros and cons to the tubes. Pro... good for deer and straighter vines that might push for early vertical growth. Cons... less root development and weaker plants the second year. I don't have a deer problem ( they go across the street and eat my brother in laws flowers), so I made simple wire cages around mine to keep out rabbits and chickens. I over killed it with two wires for training purposes. It's a hobby so why not. If your planting multiple acres, other issues.
 

BenK

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If you already have your vines it is sort of a little late to prepare your soil. I have/had a somewhat similar situation with clay soil. I planted this spring three rows in GDC, the soil also is a clay soil. My soil tends to be fertile and productive but would be difficult for roots to penetrate and also has drainage issues. Last spring about this time I dug the rows up as raised beds. I dug them by hand (16 feet long) double digging and trench composting as I went. As I opened the trenches I backfilled them with wood chips. Later in the summer I redug them and worked the chips in uniformly. In the fall I gathered bagged leaves and redug and trench composted the rows with the leaves. All of this gave me a two foot seed bed sitting/floating on top of 12 inches of leaves (with another 12 inches of broken up sub-soil beneath it all). This spring I planted my vines and am currently pushing them with daily doses of compost tea. My concern is that temporarily I have tied up available nitrogen. For 3-4 days now I've given the tea and will give each vine a cup a day until i see the growth spurt and coloration I'm looking for. I have found it difficult to find much specific info on GDC, but it seems to me that minimally the rows need to be ten feet apart if the arms will be six feet high to avoid shading down the road. Even for the home practitioner. If I'm wrong I hope someone else will correct me.
So very much to learn I know! The vines are potted so there is no huge rush. But sooner rather than later.
 

BenK

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For tension you are better off with something called line strainers. They are easy to work with and cost $3.50 each. I would say use concrete with both the posts and the earth anchors. If you have sufficient space anchor your posts correctly and forget the earth anchors. https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstream/handle/1813/4190/bulletin811.pdf;jsessionid=CBEB6373273EAD59FEAF77CDAA89269D?sequence=1. Use the third post and err on the side of caution. The primary load and strain is carried by the end posts. Play it safe and over engineer to avoid catastrophic failure later. There are pros and cons to the tubes. Pro... good for deer and straighter vines that might push for early vertical growth. Cons... less root development and weaker plants the second year. I don't have a deer problem ( they go across the street and eat my brother in laws flowers), so I made simple wire cages around mine to keep out rabbits and chickens. I over killed it with two wires for training purposes. It's a hobby so why not. If your planting multiple acres, other issues.
Ill order some strainers. Space (and soil) is my largest constraint. Given its only holding 4 vines Im not sure a large bracing system will be necessary. Ill think on it and apreciate more input. There is still time before a trellis needs to be installed
 

Johny99

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Four vines, 20 clusters, 1 lb each is a fruit load of 80-100 lbs. moment of a meter or so is pretty good force, forgive the geeky engineer:h
 

balatonwine

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6. Any suggestions for planting on my heavy clay soil? Is digging out large holes and amending/building up adequate? How would you go about it if it were you?
If it were me, if I had drainage issues and muddy soil until May, then I would get a mini-excavator, dig and backfill a 3 foot wide by 3 foot trench for the length of your planned trellis (adding soil amendments if needed), let that sit over winter, then next year see if drainage issues are better, and only then proceed. Most vines don't like wet feet.
 

grapeman

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I am letting others help you with this as I haven't had enough time to fully address it but I will say that like balatonwine has said, drainage will limit you. It won't do any good to have a top notch training system if the drainage limits vine growth. Grapes have pretty deep spreading roots and the wet soil prevents that so they will struggle for years. Improve the drainage first or you will be sorely disappointed.
 

BenK

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If it were me, if I had drainage issues and muddy soil until May, then I would get a mini-excavator, dig and backfill a 3 foot wide by 3 foot trench for the length of your planned trellis (adding soil amendments if needed), let that sit over winter, then next year see if drainage issues are better, and only then proceed. Most vines don't like wet feet.
There is no way to get machinery into my yard. Im going to start digging the trench by hand today. I'm going to build up the location a few inches as well i think.

Drainage is only an issue when with snow melt combined with spring rain.

Ill have to chew on repotting the vines or to just put them in the ground. They were not terribly expensive so it would not be a huge loss
 

BenK

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All acess to my yard is no wider than a doorway or smaller. Ill be doing this the hard way. Lol.
 

BenK

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Well i have about a third of the grass removed so far. Going to try to get most of it pulled off today and use the chunks of sod to weigh down cardboard over the whole area until i get to digging it out+building it up.

It rained a little last night so that clay soil if fighting one hell of a war of attrition.
 

BenK

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Maybe next time. I think im going to do this by hand. Ive got to have some trees trimmed/removed for better sunlight and I cant justify making another decent sized expence out of this project. Im mostly interested in the experience of growing right now and hope to apply what i learn to building a real vineyard in the future.
 

BenK

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Berm is finished! I added perlite to each layer of soil and constructed it so each few inches has a higher portion of clay. Total cultivated depth is about two feet. I gotta be honest with you. Im not sure a large bracing system will be necesary. I had my trellis posts in about 30 inches and they were close to impossible to get out and I am a competitive powerlifter! Took about 15 to 20 minutes for each one and I only had them in there loosely. There was no dirt or gravel packed in around them. My clay is so hard i cant get the shovel in more than an inch or two unless i cultivate it with a fork first. I almost snapped my shovel at least 20 times so far during this project.

That said if i do a 6 foot spacing i will have more room for bracing than if I do 8 feet per vine. But then im stuck with GDC as my only trellis option for a high yield. Currently I am leaning towards the 6 foot spacing because then i have more wiggle room for adequate bracing. I have about an hour to decide.


Any thoughts on laying waterproof tarp over the berm before snowfall so the snowmelt drains away from the vines more effectively?

I do realize I am running pretty late on this project but it couldnt be helped due to work.

Edit: went with 3 vines at 6 foit spacing. Which will give me an extra 3 feet of room for bracing
 
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