Thursday, May 17, 2012

How to construct a "tree of life" with muscadine grape vines

Hi John, found you on Youtube.  building a labyrinth and in the center of this labyrinth I want to create a dual effect.   
  • A. Tree of Life
  • B. DNA ladder symbolism.
I have installed a 24" x 8' terracotta pipe stood vertically.  consideration is to plant two muscadine plants spiraling up the turret to symbolize  DNA structure and have them create foliage and fruit at the top. 

Is this reasonable? what plant do you recommend that has a nice thick woody trunk leading up the turret?  At the turret base for the plants how much depth and width should i allow for soil?  Suggestions on how to trellis for strength and effect?  can you supply the plants at what cost plz?  location is Pilot Mountain NC.  27040

Also,  at the top of turret will be copper transitional piece to shoulder a 24" copper genesa crystal.  the turret is filled with quartz crystals inviting earth energy to flow and then broadcast by the genesa.

Thanks for asking. Your project sounds intriguing. Most muscadines should be cold hardy in your area, but you should check the hardiness of the varieties you consider. Some are hardier than others.

I don't sell muscadine vines any longer, but can recommend some growers to you.

Muscadines are shallow rooted, so soil depth shouldn't be much of an issue. But the roots can spread a long way. So long as you don't have pavement around them, they should be okay.

The trellis at top should be very sturdy. Muscadines live a long time. I imagine something like a steel umbrella. The steel post could fit inside the terra cotta turret. A round steel plate could be welded on top of the post with c-channel steel posts (or something similar) radiating outward. A steel ring, fitting around the outside of the turret, would provide support for braces (as I said, it would look like a big umbrella). This structure would be fabricated (find a welder/fabricator in your area) elsewhere and installed over the

The radiating arms (perhaps you have a number in mind) needn't be too long. Maybe 5' or 6' long.

Individual grape vine arms could be trained to the radiating arms. They could be fastened with plastic Ag-Lock fasteners.

The vine arms would be permanent. Lateral vines would be pruned annually to keep the tree neat and productive.

Grape vines would be easy to work with. Akebia quinata produces colorful flowers and edible fruit, but grows very quickly and may get away from you. Hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta) should work, but seems to me that Vitis has more ancient lore and cultural interest.

You could also espalier fruit trees like apple or pear around the turret, but they would take longer and be more difficult to train.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

A question about training muscadine vines to a single wire trellis.

I want to do a forty foot single wire trellis, planting a Carlos on one end and a Tara on the other.  Will this work and what should I do when they meet in the middle?  This is my first experience in planting scuppernong/muscadines.  Am I headed in the right direction?

 A single muscadine vine can produce 50 lbs of grapes. With two vines, you could have 100 lbs of grapes on the trellis. It should be able to bear the load. You could construct an H-brace on each end. This article on fence bracing from University of Wisconsin Extension shows how it's done.

But that may be more than is necessary for 2 vines. I suggest you install 3 steel fence posts 20' apart. That would give you a 40' row. String MAX-TEN 200 High-Tensile Trellis Wire between the posts. The wire should be 4' from the ground. Tighten the wire with a Hayes-style wire tightener. Install a duck-bill anchor at each end and attach to the end fence posts. That should give you enough support. You can buy Hi-Ten wire, tighteners and duck-bill anchors from if you can't find them locally.

Plant your vines 10' from each end. Train your vines up to the single wire trellis. Snip the growing tip (terminal bud) from the top of each vine. Select 2 arms per vine and train them to the wire growing in opposite directions.

Each arm should grow 10' long. When the Carlos and Tara arms meet, snip out the growing tips at the ends of the arms. Don't allow the Carlos and Tara arms to grow over each other.

You are on the right track.