Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Adventures of the Vinedresser

It was just two short weeks ago that our grape vine was completely barren at the depths of its dormant season. It was the perfect time to install wildlife netting on it before any leaves grew out.  Now look at it, full of life, already showing little grape clusters.

A chore I need to perfect is pruning for good production. Prune too much and you're likely to lose your entire crop. Not enough, and you get tiny fruit.

I'm still looking for the right balance. This year, I'm going to experiment with a new method. Grabbing the branches, I look for three clusters growing close together.

I'm nipping off the smallest clusters so the plant can put all its strength into the bigger, more robust clusters.  I continue across the vine, cutting of maybe half a dozen small clusters.

Also, I want to keep the bottom half of the vine bare, like a tree trunk, so any little growths like the one above are also pinched off.

I like to keep the vine trained to the narrow space of my trellis so any ranging branches that I can bend without breaking, I weave into the center part of the structure to keep the plant under control.

Lastly, the ruby red grapes are very susceptible to botrytis, a fungus, that causes immature fruit to split open and go bad before ripening. To combat this, I am sprinkling sulphur dust liberally across the soil, trunk, leaves, and branches to kill any spores that might think about growing. I'll hit the bottom half of the plant again when the fruit is ripening.

Now, other than watering and feeding, I'll just let the grapes grow as undisturbed as possible for the season.

Copyright 2013 - Darryl Musick
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