>Grapes

>I have a love/hate relationship with the grapevine. It came with the house, and every other year, it has lots of grapes. They’re Candice (also Canadice and Candace) grapes — a red grape that makes a wildly colored pink grape juice.

The vines get pruned every January or February. This year I was sure I’d pruned too harshly — all the way back to old wood — but there are certainly plenty of grapes now. Go figure.

The vine is trained to a high arbor, so harvesting the grapes involves climbing a fairly large ladder and plunging my head and arms into a jungle of grape leaves. Once a cluster of grapes is clipped, it then needs to be lowered through the tangle of vines, grapes, leaves, and arbor structure to a basket. This results in a hail of grapes, with about 3/4 actually making it into the basket.

One year I was snipping away at the grapes when I realized a pair of eyes were staring at me from the grape leaves — one of the cats had clambered up into the arbor to “help” me.

I harvested about half of the grape crop this past weekend, and have been giving grapes to the neighbors.

Candice grapes are supposedly a fairly unusual variety, but I saw some Candice vines for sale in the garden shop at the Ballard Market last week. This is your chance to embark on a love/hate relationship with a grapevine. Don’t miss out.

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