grapevineHere’s another profile of a food plant produced by one of the participants in the ‘Grow your Own’ course I ran at Foulsham, Norfolk.

Grape (Vitis vinifera)

Guest article by Kay Elvin

Black Hamburg  is a popular, outside, late grape that can be used for desserts or wine making.

Planting- Dig a large hole, adding plenty of farmyard manure and water well. Plant bareroot vines in winter, but containerised specimens can be planted at any season.

Location- Vines like to grow on a sunny, south or west wall. Support the vines with horizontal wires held in place by vine eyes, about 12”- 16” apart.

Grape_vinesGrowing – Allow about three stems to grow vertically during the first year. Pinch out shoots that grow from the side to one leaf. The next year in spring aim to have a shoot every 6”. When fruits appear thin out to one bunch every 12”. Remove some of the foliage to improve air flow.

 Feed with high potash. Vines can be affected by scale insects, vine weevil, downy mildew and mould. When harvesting avoid touching the fruits, cut each bunch with a ‘handle’ (2” of stem).

Beware – Do not park your car under a grape arbour- they damage the paintwork! Grapes are also poisonous to dogs.

Grapevine_leaf_-_SyrahRecipe- Grape Jam


4lb ripe grapes

1 box powdered fruit pectin

3.25 lbs sugar


Slip skins from grapes and set aside

Add 1 cup of water to pulp, bring to boil cover and simmer for 5 mins.

Press through a sieve to remove seeds.

Chop or grind skins, add to pulp.

Measure 6 cups into a very large saucepan.

Then make jam, add powdered pectin to the fruit in pan and mix well.

Bring to hard boil over high heat, stirring constantly. At once stir in the sugar.

Bring to a full rolling boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring all the time.

Remove from heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon, then alternately stir and skim for 5 mins..

Cool slightly, ladle into jars, cover jam at once.

 Makes 6 half pound jars.

 For spicier jam add 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, ginger and allspice to the grapes before simmering.

Old School Gardener