Old grape vine keeps on giving

Jerry Apps
Want to try something new? How about starting a grape vine from a cutting?

Spring has been so, so slow in coming this year, with winter sticking around for a brief look nearly every week of this April, which is supposed to be a spring month.

One thing I remembered every spring for the 50 years I’ve had it, is to prune my Concord Grape vine that snakes around the split rail fence in front of  my house. 

The main vine is about the size of my wrist, and had I not severely pruned it every year, I have no idea how long the vines—there are several off shoots from the mother vine—would be.

Early on, someone showed me how to prune grapes. To the passerby, once I’ve finished pruning, it appears that I have killed the vine. Not so. Severe pruning wakes it up and causes it send forth new growth, more each year with a new crop of grapes.

I’ve taught my son-in-law, Paul, how to do the pruning, which he did for me this year. As he was pruning, he said “I’ve heard that it’s possible to grow a new vine from these cuttings.”

“Yup, I’ve heard that too,” I said.  “Want to try it?”  Here is how he described what he did:

“Several of the new growth vines that I removed from your grapevine, I cut the vine so there were at least several growth nodes on each piece. I bundled the cut vines together and placed then in an old plastic milk jug filled with peat moss. After watering. I placed them in the shade. I expect to see roots and buds in four weeks”

I did some further reading and learned that starting grape vines from cuttings requires patience.  It may take three years before the new vine will produce grapes. Concord grapes make just the best grape jelly. What’s three years to wait for such a treat?

The Old Timer Says: Want to try something new? How about starting a grape vine from a cutting?

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work, go to