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New in the garden this year: Grapes!

We are always looking for new ways to expand our 'urban farm' with new plantings and new learning. This year, we were excited to find a small but lovely crop of purple grapes on our grapevine.

The grape vine has been a wonderful decorative addition to our southern fence line. The plant has occupied this space for a number of years, and while we have enjoyed watching it grow, pruning it annually, it has not yielded a crop of fully ripe fruit, other than small, somewhat undeveloped grapes. These grapes have been food source for local wildlife.

This year, perhaps, conditions were good for a more plentiful and robust crop to develop fully.

Last year, we were able to secure a very large supply of delicious grapes through a friend's garden. This allowed us to store up and enjoy a wonderful supply of grape jam.

This year, for the first time, we were able to store up 2 jars of grape jam. Not quite the kind of supply we enjoyed last year and not quite as flavorfully sweet, but a wonderful surprise for us in this incredibly bountiful urban farming season.

Grapes can easily into jam, but seedy varieties like ours require some prep work to remove seeds. The addition of lemon juice in the jam mixture while cooking raises the acidity level of the mix to a good jam-making measure.

Grapes are a great addition to any urban garden space and can also serve as a fast-growing privacy barrier. Varieties grow great in our northern climate. Grape vines do require tending and careful consideration of planting location. The University of Minnesota's Extension Service is a great source of information online to help you.....

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