We had a late summer in Sebastopol….most folks around the country called it October…..so I didn’t get to my winter chores until the last week as we were enjoying the weather since it was so cold here this summer.
Until we came to Wine Country and planted “Turtle Vines” we did what everyone else does, clean the gutters, patch the roof, fix the furnace….that kind of thing.
Well, as soon as you are a farmer, you have to get ready for winter. (and always talk about the weather) For us that means getting the vineyard ready for winter. Last year we planted clover as a cover crop but it didn’t work well enough to keep the weeds away. We had a case of nasty flat weeds that covered the entire vineyard by the end of the summer. As you can see above, I rented a very large roto-tiller and spent 2 full days tilling our 2 miles of vine rows. Just image walking and turning with a 400 pound machine for 5 miles. That would be hard enough, but with the weeds, every 30 vines I had to go under the tiller and clean out the tines as they were tangled. That was a good workout for my lats. So a 6-8 hour job turned into 14 hours. Our new strategy for the end of 2010 and early 2011 is to out-compete the weeds. I am going to put 100 pounds of organic seed that will help the soil and hopefully keep the weeds away. Stay tuned for pictures.
If you remember last year, we had a little issue with erosion due to the fact that the soil was bare and vineyard drains were not in place. We put some in place last year, and now this year we have all of the house downspouts connected to a drain that ends up in the neighbors stream. In addition we enhanced the drain for the driveways. I’m hoping this will eliminate our erosion issue.
Now if I could just get the roof fixed and the paver projects done !!!
PS Raining today and so far the roof is not leaking. Will have to wait for a downpour to make sure.
We just had our first real rain of the year……3” this weekend. This will mark the end of the harvest season in Sonoma County.
As you can see from the picture our little vines did well this year. Now they are turning colors and will lose all of their leaves in a few weeks.
Two big projects are left……1) Have to rototill the vineyard to get rid of the nasty flat weeds and replace them with a cover crop. We have to let the ground dry a few days and then start. 2) We have to install a drain to collect all of the water from the driveways so we don’t get erosion.
Never time off in the vineyard!!!
Some new friends of mine think we are living the “Green Acres” life….City folks starting over on a farm. Little did they know that growing up my brothers and I helped my Dad build garage cabinets, rewire houses, paint, pour concrete and other items I thought was just work. At the time I didn’t think would come in handy later in life.
Well, we decided to redo the outside landscaping in the back of the house. We had hired someone but that didn’t work out so Joanne and I took the project over in April and are almost done with the back. The last two projects were putting in pavers and building garden boxes. Having never done pavers I asked the local place H&M and they told me to put down 3” of compacted stone, 1” of sand and then the pavers. Not so bad, except then you also have to cut the pavers to fit the lawn, steps, curves, etc. So we borrowed a saw from John and Chris Mason and have had it for a few weeks. That was a lifesaver as I have probably cut 200 pieces.
In the picture you can see the garden boxes. Vaughn helped me with the design and some “what to do and not to do” so we have 3 done. To the left of the stairs we are going to add one more garden box as soon as I get the cover crop planted in the vine rows. We put in 4 yards of “Super Soil” from “Grab n Grow” , a local compost place. As you can see by our first crop it is great soil.
Joey is not a big fan of reds, so she wanted her own little vineyard with enough grapes for a few cases of white wine per year. So……instead of putting in useless but pretty plants in the front of the house we are about ready to plant 15-20 Sauvignon blanc vines. They should be ready to harvest in 2012. Since Sauvignon blanc is more vigorous, we should get about 10-15 pounds per plant instead of 3, so this should give her enough to drink for the year. We have decided to plant three clones……Clone 1 which is what New Zealand has…..Clone Musque which is what Merry Edwards Winery uses……and finally Clone 376 which is what Rochioli Winery uses. This blend should give us a balanced and not to citrusy wine, or so we hope.