How to start a grape vineyard
First you need to choose a grape variety that is suitable for the conditions. The two most common grape varieties are Vitus vinifera, Mediterranean species, and Vitis lubrusca (Concord Grapes). Your next choice will relate to color, size and what you want to use the grapes for (e.g. making wine or jelly). Generally, nurseries stock grapes suitable for your region and soil.
Grapes grow best in deep, fertile, well-drained soil that has a pH of between 5.5 and 6.5. Lincoln, Nebraska is generally clay, so amending the soil is key to develop great grapes. Good drainage and aeration with a fertilizer mix of 2:3:2 (N:P:K) will help raise wonderful grapes. Grape vines need a lot of potassium, which helps manufacture sugars and starches, and also for the general vigor of plants. If the soil is low in potassium the fruit will taste sour.
Both organic and chemical fertilizers contain the ‘big-three’ elements in various proportions, for example 2:3:2 (N:P:K). This means there is an equal amount of nitrogen and potassium, and half again the amount of phosphorous in the mix.
Good drainage and aeration are also very important, so you should dig and turn the soil to a depth of about a meter, breaking up all the hard lumps.
Grape vines can be grown on stakes, pergolas, arbors and ceilings. The variety that you choose will determine exactly how far apart you space your plants. A good rule of thumb is to leave a space of about 5 feet between plants.
The soil that your vines are planted in should be saturated with water. During the season, they need less water when the berries start to ripen, but during harvest thoroughly water once again.