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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Planting Muscadines

Well, some people are successful at growing wine grapes here in Middle TN, but research makes it seem like I might not be as successful, at least not for a first grape venture - too hot, too much rain, too much clay.  But Muscadines - they were born in The South and love it here.  Even so, the success rate for propagation from hardwood cuttings is still supposed to be only 70% or so.  For $7 for 6 cuttings, I figured I'd take my chances.  And, support a small time farmer.  And if half of them survive, I have Muscadine grapes forever?

Cuttings arrived in damp packing inside zip closure bags, and sat in my mailbox for a few days in freezing weather.  Then they sat next to the tea pot in a 70*F room for several days.  Finally, after all of that abuse, I got down to actually getting them planted.

Materials:
  • Cuttings
  • Rooting hormone
  • Seed starting mix combined with vermiculite or perlite
  • Pots
  • Pencil or chopstick or something similar to make holes with
  • Knife or fingernail or something to scrap the very outer layer of bark off of the cuttings
  • Seed starting heating pad
  • Something to help retain humidity (mini green house)
Procedure:

1.  Rinsed cuttings and set in tepid water
2.  Filled well cleaned reused pots with 75% seed starting mix + 25% vermiculite (because that is what I had on hand)
3.  Used a chopstick to make holes in the potting mix slightly bigger than the cutting (so that the rooting hormone would not be scraped off
4.  Scraped the outer layer off of the cutting in several places where I hoped roots would grow - this is called wounding the cutting

I made several scrapings along the part of the cutting that would be under the potting mix.

3.  Applied rooting hormone to the whole length of the cutting that would be underground.  Note how I have just made a little slit in the seal of the jar? That is so I can drop the jell onto a coffee stirrer from above without actually touching the coffee stick and contaminating the bottle.  I use the coffee stick like a spatula.

A little goes a long way. 

4.  Placed cuttings in the holes in the potting mix, and pressed the potting mix down so it would make good contact with the cutting
5.  Made a little greenhouse for them out of plastic wrap.  Used chopsticks to hold the plastic off of the cuttings.
6.  Going to set them on a seed starting mat in a cool room to hopefully encourage roots to grow, but buds to stay dormant until roots are well on their way.

Another winter project started.  Another distraction to keep me from planting tomatoes in January!



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