On the big day, have an assembly line mentality to plant your VULNERABLE vines
At last it is time for the big day! Aim for a cooler day in early Spring. Also keeping in mind if you ordered online what day delivery occurs. You’ll want to prepare all your stuff ahead of time. That’s because the transplants are prone to shock. If there is a lag between getting the vines and planting—or while you are planting them, keep them in a cool spot, covered and in the shade. You may want to soak them for an hour prior to planting as well.
Once you get started, keep a hose handy and set on mister, so you can mist the little guys when you pull them out. Also mist the soil you’ll be placing in with the vine. When you insert the rootstock into the dug hole, make sure the little roots have room and aren’t bunched against the walls of the hole. Then gently scoop in the damp soil so you slowly bury the vine. You’ll only want an inch or two of the rootstock sticking out from the ground. Then water the vine and soil, and pack in the soil to eliminate major air pockets. Insert a bamboo stick an inch or two adjacent to the rootstock, with care as too not injure the roots, and also on the opposite side of where the sun hits the vine. Finally, envelope the vine and bamboo stick with a planting sleeve.
In summary, once you start, have an assembly line mentality: dirt, insert root stock, bamboo stick, sleeve, water, next.
You’ll do lots of pruning the first season as you aim to get your vine to crown.
It might take a few weeks before you see any sign of life. You’ll start wondering whether you’re an idiot who just planted a stick farm. Then, suddenly, you’ll see a miraculous little pink-white bud on the vine. That is life. It is a stunning event. After all your work and plotting and prepping, you just took something that was dormant and brought it back to life. It’s truly an awesome moment you should remember.
Now let’s get into some terminology down. Prune is a euphemism for cutting and trimming. Rootstock is the transplant, aka little trunk aka little stick you received and planted. A bud is the pink, rose colored fuzzy looking thing that emerges on the rootstock. From a bud, a shoot emerges. The shoot is the green (eventually) pencil-thick vine that comes from the bud. The strongest shoot eventually becomes the trunk. It will also have buds and therefore shoots that grow from it, as well as leaves and tendrils, which are its natural way of grabbing onto things. The two shoots that become horizontal are called Cordons. This will all make more sense as you read below.
Training and Pruning
You’ll likely have a few buds that appear on the root and therefore a few shoots that break from the buds. Eventually, you’ll just want to go with one shoot—the strongest. Give it some time and determine which of the shoots is the strongest (thickest, fastest growing, highest). It might feel scary and counter intuitive pruning. Cutting vines feels wrong. But you need to because it concentrates the energy onto the one shoot. Add some fertilizer in a ring around the vine as the buds start to break. As the shoot you chose grows, use garden ties to gently wrap them around the bamboo stick. Not too tight like a tourniquet. It’s like you’re suggesting to the shoot, “hey come take a load off this way.” In terms of watering, be sure to keep your new vines hydrated. “Dry farming” is a popular and effective technique for mature vines. But drying out vulnerable first year vines probably isn’t a great idea.
In the first season, that green shoot may grow anywhere between 2 feet to 6 feet long depending on its potency and success. In addition to buds on the rootstock, the green shoot you chose will itself have buds break and shoots growing from it.