Posted by / September 6, 2012

I Heard It Through The Grapevine...

We mentioned taking care of a fall planting project we've been meaning to get to for a while now over this past weekend. Well, we finally got around to transplanting the two grapevines plants we brought home this past February — you may recall they looked like this when we brought them home:

You may also recall how Basil completely destroyed one of them (at least we thought he did) shortly thereafter:

Well, we let them hang out in their same planters over the rest of the winter, spring and summer and just continued to water and watch to see if anything would happen. In early April, the one plant had new growth and even sprouted mini bunches of grapes, which we pinched off the vine in an effort to strengthen the base plant for transplanting later on:

In late May, we came out on the landing one morning to discover what we thought would be a lost cause — the dead, destroyed plant had literally sprung a new vine next to the dead one and rapidly regrew itself. We were beyond thrilled.

Here's what we've been looking like more recently:

Now that you've got the full background on these grapevines, let's get to today's update — transplanting them! Since moving in the house and getting these vines, we figured having them grow and vine up the little enclave we have under our back landing staircase (where we have our hanging herb planters) could be a great place for them. We'd also scored these two giant half whiskey barrels over the winter that just happened to fit this little space perfectly. They've been hanging out upside-down like this for a few months:

Now can you see where Mary's been "wearing me out" to get these guys transplanted? Haha, only joking — but really, just look at that look on her face:

I whipped out the trusty power drill, did my best Tim Allen ARR ARR ARR and got to it! I drilled 5 holes (1 in the center and 4 in each corner) in the bottom of each barrel to allow for drainage, using one of my largest drill bits:

Then I flipped each of the barrels over to get started prepping them. They had been upside-down for so long that spiders had made new homes in each of them:

Knowing we wanted to transplant these guys this weekend, we picked up 2 cheap bags of river pebbles and 4 bags of topsoil from the hardware store. I poured a thick layer of the river pebbles into the base of each barrel, again, to allow for proper drainage, then rinsed off all the extra sediment:

Next came a healthy pouring of topsoil in each barrel over the river pebbles:

We'd been collecting each of the planters from our spring plantings that we'd either harvested or were just over for the season on our back patio table so we could reuse the potting soil to mix in with the dirt in these new planters. One thing we've realized with moving into the city is how much simple dirt and soil have become a commodity for us — we would never have thought we'd ever "save soil" to reuse again, but here we are doing it!

In any case, we cleaned out the plants, leaves and roots from each of the spring planters and collected those to toss into our compost bin (read all about our compost bin and how it works here):

We thought this might be the perfect opportunity to actually mix in and use some of the compost that's been breaking down over the past several months, but when I checked it out from the bottom, it just wasn't ready for use yet — we're still waiting for that "black gold."

So, we mixed in some of the old soil with the new, then pulled the grapevines from their original pots, loosened up the vines as best we could and placed them gently into the barrels as we continued to layer and mix old and new soil together over the root ball:

After giving them a heavy watering, we stood back and marveled at how great they look in their new homes:

They just already look like happier, healthier plants, even if it's just in our heads. I can just imagine they feel like they can stretch out and continue to grow now.

When all was said and done, I rinsed out all of the planters from spring and we put them away in the garage to use again either later this fall or early next spring:

As you probably noticed, Basil was very keen on investigating this entire planting process. We are just hoping we don't come outside to any more devastating incidents like before — but I made a gentleman's agreement with him that I don't want to see any funny business. We shall see.

Have you started planning your fall plantings or had success growing grapevines in your space? We're excited to see how these guys take shape in their new planters — who knows, maybe we'll even get grapes at some point!

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  1. I have to admit, as horticulturalists, that our dog did the very same thing as Basil! We raced in to a viticulturalist to ask him if our prized muscat grape was doomed after Bezial (sounds very similar to Basil...) had deftly pruned it off to the quick and he actually told us (after we explained just where the dear canine pruning legend had nipped it off) that Bezial couldn't have picked a better place to nip! Perhaps Basil was just pruning it for you? I dare say he is sitting back pretty happy with himself and much like Bezial, won't nibble any more because "his work DONE!" ;)

    1. narf7 that is too funny, glad to hear we are not alone!

  2. I love grapevines! They are seriously so easy to grow that it's tough to kill them. :) I'm trying at the moment to figure out how to keep some of my herbs and plants throughout the winter. Are you guys? I mean, I have 3 types of basil, chives, 3 kinds of thyme...etc. Any ideas? :)

    1. Jasanna — so glad to hear grapevines are easy, we are hoping they will just stretch out and keep growing from here!

      Your Thyme should last through the winter, not as sure on the Basil and Chives unless you have a way to bring them indoors. We always look forward to spring and summer when we can just pick fresh basil instead of having to consider buying it!

  3. We planted lettuce, spinach, carrots, parsnips and bunching onions in the fall(ish) garden. There is more I want to plant but the summer stuff is still going strong and our soil is on rations too!

    1. Ni Willow! We need to get on top of our fall planting! We've got arugula and spinach planted but want more root veggies like you.

  4. I planted cilantro, lettuce, string beans and carrots for the fall. I just posted about my garden, including a picture of my grape vine yesterday!

    1. Sakura, LOVED seeing the progress of your summer crops and fall plantings. Your grapevines have REALLY taken off! Hope we get where you are soon now that we've transplanted these guys!

  5. I have spent the better part of the last few summers digging a grapevine up by hand that took over our back yard. They've not produced anything in years, but they have spread like wildfire. I'm curious to watch yours, to see if you get fruit.

    1. Awesome, thanks Becky! We will try to study up on pruning practices to get the best fruit and if we find a method that works we will definitely post it on the blog!

  6. Thank you guys for sharing all your stories you have given me new hope for more sustainable edible house gardening. I like the articles they give great detailing and actual results.Also you give me great ideas to do with my daughter to help her be more involved in growing her foods

    1. So thrilled to hear it Wendy! Let us know how it goes if you take on a project!


Mary and Tim Vidra, here! Both Richmond natives & do-it-yourselfers by nature, we are continually in search of simple solutions for living more sustainably — sharing ideas, tips and tricks for DIY home decor, urban gardening and cooking.


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