Growing a grape vine
I'm one of those people who likes to eat any fruit. That's why I chose to plant in my garden as many fruit trees and fruit bushes as I could. I saved enough space for each of them so they can grow big enough to fruit. Although I have a small garden, I managed to find a place for a grapevine - just one vine, not more. My mom gave it to me, after she grew it from grape seeds. I've since learned a few things about how to divide a grapevine and it isn't that simple. The same as with most of the fruit trees, a grape vine needs grafting in order to produce good grapes. However, I planted that vine and let it grow as it was. I planted it near the fence, so it could climb on it every summer.
Pruning a grape vine
After a year or two, I started to trim it back in the spring, but I first had to learn about how to do it. Pruning a grape vine is not that easy, but if the vine is just for fun, like mine, I could take the chance and be wrong, because the vine grew anyway if watered properly. My grape vine grew more and more every year because I was afraid to prune it too much. A friend told me what his mom told him about pruning the grape vine - to trim the dry wood at the top of the thin branches. This is how I did every spring and the grape vine produced more and more grapes every year. I started to pick up a few clusters after 3 years, then a small bowl in the fourth, then a whole bucket - that was two years ago. The grapes are black and small for wine, not for eating.
Birds can cause problems when fruit is ripening
Last summer my grape vine fruited more than ever and I was excited to see the grapes growing bigger than before. By the time they started to ripen, I was unpleasantly surprised to see a whole flock of about two dozen starlings on my grape vine eating the grapes. Lucky I was at home so I could take care of it, otherwise I could have kissed the grapes good-bye!
A few months earlier, I saw a huge net that my neighbors laid over their pergola grapevine and wondered about its purpose. But I already knew the answer, the net was to prevent from losing the grapes to the starlings or any other birds. I never had problems with the birds eating my grapes before, only with the wasps, but they weren't as bad and the damage wasn't that big. However, when I saw over twenty starlings on my small grapevine I really got worried. I went outside and scared them, then brought the wind chimes I'm always using for chasing away the birds from the cherries or from the tomato patch - I also brought the old T-shirt I'm always using for the same purpose. I went inside and started to watch the bad birds. Do you think they got scared and flew away? I wish they did, but no, they came back again and started to eat my grapes. I have to confess that I felt bad for the birds because I'm not using the grapes for making wine, I just make a glass of juice everyday - which means only 4 or 5 glasses of juice from all the grape crop. But that was enough to satisfy my grape juice hunger. I could have given up on the grapes and just not bother with the starlings, but it was such a pity for all my work and for the love I invested in caring for the grape vine. I wouldn't have been worried if they had eaten a few grapes, but these birds are devouring everything in minutes. I once saw a sour cherry tree in a friend's garden, which the starlings had emptied in half an hour! I just couldn't let them do that to my grapevine. I went outside again and chased them away. Then I started to ask myself what more I could do to save my grapes and I remembered the net I saw at my neighbor's grapevine. That was what I had to do! I had some old net which the workers had used for repairing the house on the outside and I wasn't using it anyway, so I ran and grabbed it and ran back to the grapevine before the starlings came back again. They were waiting on the electric wires on the street, between two light poles.
Covering grape vines with net is a practical solution for hungry birds
It was hard to lay the net over the grapevine, which had climbed all over the fence. I had to watch for the grapes or what was left of them! Since it wasn't a large vine, the net I had was just enough to cover it entirely. It took me about an hour to cover all and to fix it with plastic strips. While covering the grapevine, I could evaluate what was left of my grapes and those were about half of the entire crop. Every ripe grape was gone from all the upper part of the grapevine, but there were still enough clusters at the bottom.
After I finished covering the grapevine, I left and watched for the starlings. They were already gone, maybe because they had seen me there for so long and got tired of waiting.
And that's how I saved my grapes from the starlings' attack. Please don't hate me, they are real pests!
P.S. - This spring I found a starling nest in my cherry tree and let it be. See, I'm human, although this quality might bring me some headaches later in the summer!