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Vines on birches; do they work?

 
Posts: 55
Location: Russia, ~250m altitude, zone 6a, Moscow oblast, in the greater Sergeiv Posad reigon.
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    I'm looking to plant some grapevines in a previously established birch grove as part of a miniature food forest development, but I haven't been able to find any information anywhere about how birches react to grapes specifically or vines in general. Thoughts?
 
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So the grape vines grow up the tree? That's brilliant
 
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Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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The only issue is that grapes need full sun to grow and provide a good crop. They also don't like root competition, so the vine would need to be planted between the trees and trained so they drape over a tree on each side e.g. two leaders.

Maybe this can be achieved by selective coppicing of the Birch, which may provide switches for kindling, craft work, etc?

Worth a try, good luck.

 
Jay Mullaky
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F Agricola wrote:
The only issue is that grapes need full sun to grow and provide a good crop. They also don't like root competition, so the vine would need to be planted between the trees and trained so they drape over a tree on each side e.g. two leaders.

Maybe this can be achieved by selective coppicing of the Birch, which may provide switches for kindling, craft work, etc?

Worth a try, good luck.



But let's say a person wasn't bothered with actually harvesting the grapes, maybe just let the birds take them do you think a vine could grow up a pretty big tree?

Now I can't grow grapes here in Ireland but I have this image in my head of a huge tree covered in grapes
 
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In Restoration Agriculture (highly recommended), Mark Shepherd mentions grapes and apples both produce normally when this is done. It may be a concern if your sun exposure is on the low end of their tolerance, but this is how their ancestors have grown in nature. I also have a friend who puts on the  International Pinot Noir Celebration in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and she said in touring Europe that her favorite wines came from classically arbor grown vines trained to trees or large pergolas.
 
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I have Hops that grow up silver birch. the trees do not seem to mind but the hops produce very little and it's all well out of reach to harvest! However there is lots of other competition as well so it may not just be the birches reducing the hops productivity.
 
Myron Platte
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F Agricola wrote:
The only issue is that grapes need full sun to grow and provide a good crop. They also don't like root competition, so the vine would need to be planted between the trees and trained so they drape over a tree on each side e.g. two leaders.

Maybe this can be achieved by selective coppicing of the Birch, which may provide switches for kindling, craft work, etc?

Worth a try, good luck.


    Cool, I actually already coppiced a few of the birches. Really neat that I might have accidentally created a niche for the other features I want to add. Thanks for the info!
 
Myron Platte
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Ben Zumeta wrote:In Restoration Agriculture (highly recommended), Mark Shepherd mentions grapes and apples both produce normally when this is done. It may be a concern if your sun exposure is on the low end of their tolerance, but this is how their ancestors have grown in nature. I also have a friend who puts on the  International Pinot Noir Celebration in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and she said in touring Europe that her favorite wines came from classically arbor grown vines trained to trees or large pergolas.


    I knew that you can grow grapes up apples, and I was wondering if birches would be a bad trellis. I think that grapes might have a special affinity for apples because they both love boron. Sounds wrong, I know, but it just makes sense to me.
 
Myron Platte
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    Even if this can’t be done with high yields, I think that it’s still worth it, because it’s just stacking functions in the birch grove that would otherwise have this empty niche sitting around. I also plan to put bilberries and some typical herbaceous support species in, along with whatever else I think of. Hops are a good idea that I want to look into.
 
F Agricola
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Jay Mullaky wrote:But let's say a person wasn't bothered with actually harvesting the grapes, maybe just let the birds take them do you think a vine could grow up a pretty big tree? Now I can't grow grapes here in Ireland but I have this image in my head of a huge tree covered in grapes



Yes, a grape vine grows rampantly, in the right conditions, if left to itself. They tend to become leggy and produce little fruit because all the energy goes into the vines, hence the reason they are grown on trellis or pergola type structures.

I don't see the point in growing a fruit or vegetables in an aspect that does not maximise it's food production potential, to me that is just wasted space - the object (of Permaculture) being to maximise production (quantity and variety) for a given space.

If the object is to provide shade for shade-loving plants beneath, other vine crops that don't mind being left to go rampant may be a wiser choice e.g. choko (chayote), gourd, passion fruit, etc.

A grape vine grown on a trellis/pergola in full sun produces enough shade to grow plants beneath it without sacrificing grape production. Depending on the climate, being deciduous means winter crops can be grown underneath too.

The Romans apparently grew grapes in Britain/Scotland during the Roman Warm Period. Another warm period occurred in Medieval times, just before the Little Ice Age (1300-1800), and, we've seen a steady rise ever since. So, you may soon be able to grow them in Ireland too!

 
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Grapes on Birch trees
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