|Calabash, the welcoming committee|
|A sample of the 2013 Chambourcin|
In vineyard news, the grapes are all covered. Pierce's Disease is popping up here and there, but so far, no massive losses due to the disease like in previous years. I hope our new spray regimen is helping. It will be a few more weeks before we can really see how everything is progressing. It's hard to tell what's going on in the vineyard right now- the weather is so cool that the ripening of the grapes has slown down. A few weeks ago, when the temperature was normal, or even above average (as it was in June), we were full speed ahead and expecting an early harvest. This rain and cooler weather has thrown a wrench in the works. The weather will always keep you guessing.
|properly pinned down netting and a beautiful blue sky|
For the past two years, after harvest, we have simply rolled up the nets and mowed the vineyard and called it a year. This year, I'm going to attempt to do some pre-harvest care of the grapes. This will make the winter and spring better for the vines and for the employees. If we are harvesting our grapes in the second or third week of August, that means that we will have a little time after harvest to "pre-prune" for the winter. We can begin cutting out the stuff that definitely has Pierce's Disease, get rid of the weakest parts of the vines, (visually) choose canes or spurs for next season, and allow the vines to focus on hardening off the branches that we want to keep. I'd also like to give a dose of fertilizer to the vines right after harvest to help them harden off properly. If I can convince dad to mow the vineyard twice in a row, I'll spread crimson clover as a cover crop between the rows to add some nitrogen-fixing flora to our ecosystem in the Spring. All of these actions will ensure a healthier vineyard for the winter and make work easier for us in the Spring. We've got a long enough growing season that the grapes will appreciate the chance to chill out a bit before the first frosts.
|Villard blanc, under the nets|
The tricky part is making sure that we have finished all of our garden work for the fall so that we have time to do the vineyard work. I've been thinking about ways to time the planting of the fall crops, and I'm hoping that the first or second week of August won't be too early to get our seeds in the ground for the root crops. If we plant our root crops for the first two weeks of August, then harvest our grapes, that means that we can spend the last week in August preparing our vines for the winter.
We might have to put off planting the strawberries until the first week of September and the garlic shortly thereafter.
Last year, due to the rainy weather, there was a straw shortage, so we were unable to properly mulch our strawberries and garlic over the winter. This proved to be an expensive shortage. We had quite a few rotten berries and we had to constantly be weeding the garlic. Hopefully proper mulching this fall will help save us some tedious labor in the Spring.
|The winter squash are coming in strong!|
Well, that's it for now. We will be harvesting soon, so stay tuned for volunteer opportunities in the near future!