Monday, May 28, 2012

It's an early Summer

It's been a while since I've posted, but trust me, we've been hard at work. We've doubled the size of the garden from last year and we're doing it with one less employee, so needless to say, it's been a taxing few weeks. The weeds have taken over, but we're starting to get control of everything again. I have hopes that in two weeks, we'll be back on schedule and have a tolerable level of weeds!

The vineyard is looking amazing. We've been spot on for the spray schedule so far and kept the black rot at bay. The thing about black rot is that the berries become immune to it as they grow, so about 4 weeks after flowering, we don't have to worry about losing our crop any more! But the leaves can still get black rot, and if we lose too many leaves, we can't ripen the crop, so we're not out of the dark yet. Last year, we got a great hail storm about this time as well. The threat of severe weather can take various forms and ruin a season in only a few minutes. As someone told me today- "I don't count my chickens until those grapes are in the picking bins!"

The grapes themselves are looking large. Because we got some hot, dry weather during flowering and berry formation, some of the clusters are a little spotty. In spite of that, I think I'd rather have spotty clusters than dense, tight, disease-prone clusters. It looks like we're about to stage 31 to 33 of the phenological development (page 5) so we're preparing for an early season. We'll be spraying the kaolin clay soon to slow down the growth and development of the little buggers. I'd better order some extra nets now! I got a lot of great new ideas for the netting in Australia, so we'll try to get it on in time this year.

We'll hopefully be opening up the farm stand in the next two weeks with all of our produce as well as introducing David Goforth's peaches. Until then, stop by the Elizabeth Ave Market or 4758 Poplar Tent Rd on Saturday from 9-12 and pick up the last of the lettuce, broccoli, kale, kholrabi, and fennel.

I lost my camera last weekend, so pictures will be slow in coming.  Sorry!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Back from Tasmania!

Hi Everyone! Last time I posted, I was going down to Australia to work in a winery. After working in the first vineyard and winery, my boyfriend and I moved to Tasmania to work for Bay of Fires Winery . This experience was great. They produce some very interesting wines. My favourites were the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. Working at a larger-scale place will no doubt help us produce more consistent, well-made wines in the future. I also have a better understanding of winery logistics and design.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, mom and dad were doing a great job of managing the farm and vineyard. Mom was out at Poplar Tent every Saturday (except one) selling veggies, and Dad made sure that all the tractor work was done on time! It's great to see their passion and skills in farming grow.

The season so far has been a busy one. Remember when it got cold around Easter? Well, our little grapevine buds had already broken, and sadly, the Vidals suffered quite a bit of frost damage. A good half of them lost their primary growth. Lucky for grapevines and for us, there are secondary buds, which break if the primary growth is destroyed or removed. We'll probably harvest the Vidal twice this year- pick the grapes that didn't get frosted, and then pick the grapes from the secondary growth a few weeks later.

The Chambourcin is looking great. They experienced very little frost damage. We're looking forward to a great crop off of them this year. The dry weather we have right now is perfect for ensuring great flavours in the berries.

Of course, as luck would have it, our lawn mower is broken. Please don't judge us in our messy landscapes right now. It won't affect the quality of the produce. It might even make it better, in that the vines have to compete with the tall grasses. Fingers crossed for a quick recovery for our beloved zero-turn.

On the veggie side of things, The Community Supported Agriculture starts next week! I think we'll be having some kale, swiss chard, salad mix, spring onions, and rosemary. We've got a lot of weeding to do in the next few weeks, but I think that we're up for the challenge. I can't wait to get our customers out there with us and to share our passion of great food that's good for the earth.

If you're interested in joining our CSA, just let me know. I can send you an email with all the info. We still have about 5 spaces left, so grab them while you can!
A beautiful, healthy Vidal blanc vine 

Frost-damaged vines

Frozen Clusters :(

Maybe they'll break bud again?