It has been a very busy May so far and I just want to update you on what is happening in the vineyard.
First off, the weather has been warm/hot and dry, in fact our “Growing Degree Days” are running 20% higher than last year. This is a measure of the weather for us farmers. For the rest of you it means I’m 2-3 weeks ahead of last year, so it has been more stressful than last year at this time.
We started the month with bloom. They say that from bloom to harvest is around 120 days, so that will put harvest in early to mid September.
The rest of the month so far has been devoted to thinning shoots on the vines, positioning the shoots so they grow straight and leave room for the grapes, clipping the wires together and weeding. The result is the picture above…well manicured vines! Just have to finish weeding on 2/3 of the vineyard and we are good to go.
One downside of the nice weather is that the powdery mildew is a big concern, so I have started spraying with oil much earlier than last year.
What is next? I have to start leafing around the BB sized grapes so the spraying is more effective and the develop a sun tan so they are better able to stand the summer heat.
I’ve put some pictures below of the work so far this month.
You can see from the picture that the rows on the left have been weeded and weed cloth/mulch applied. Don’t you love the look! The ones on the right still have to be completed.
Nov 8 4 hours
Nov 9 3 hours
Nov 10 4 hours
Nov 12 6 2/3 hours + 6 2/3 hours hired
Total weeding project to date (I’m about 40% done with the weeding/weed cloth and 30% with the mulch)
64 2/3 hours(Doug and Joey) + 6 2/3 hours hired = 73 1/3 hours
Another 90 hours to go and then we will see how this turns out!!!
The plan is to do 133 vines/day which includes weeding/whacking/mowing/laying weed cloth and mulch to hold. Then I’ll get help to mulch it all at once. This will keep the weeds down. Should be done by early January….just in time to start pruning!!!
Nov 14 4 hours (Doug and Joey)
Nov 15 4 hours (Doug and Joey)
Nov 16 3 1/3 hours + 3 1/3 hours hired and 3 2/3 on fencing with 3 1/3 hired
Nov 29 4 1/2 hours
Nov 30 4 hours
Dec 1 5.5 hours
Dec 2 2.5 hours
Dec 5 3.5 hours
Dec 7 7.5 hours with 14 hours hired to spread mulch
Dec 13 4 hours
Dec 14 4 hours
Update….about 80% complete with the weeding/weed cloth (2100 vines) and have put in 111 hours with 24 hours hired and have spread 48 yards of organic vineyard mulch. Another 40-50 hours to go and 20 yards of mulch and then I’m on to pruning!
My first year with weeds I resorted to pulling the big weeds and also flaming in the winter. The flaming was very successful but after you get growth on the vines, you can’t flame anymore, so weeds grow! I know it says second trial…but I’m going to try 3 things this fall/winter if I can get them designed.
1. Sonoma Country Landfill Organic Mulch – put this on 3” thick and see what happens.
2. Put down Ecocover mulch cardboard and then fill in with mulch between the plants.
3. Purchase round weed cloth to put around the plants and then cover with mulch.
4. Design a plastic frisbee like devise that has holes in it and put around the vines. This would be permanent and best for mowing. I don’t know anything that exists like this so might not get done this year.
RESULTS SO FAR AND ACTION PLAN
1. Just mulch is OK, but it will not be enough to keep the weeds away.
2. The raccoons liked the Ecocover composted cardboard product….they think grubs are hiding under them. In fact, they destroyed 30 of them! Including the ones that were covered with mulch. So, not going to work. And, they only last 9 months with mulch covering them.
3. Can’t find a frisbee product to work.
Almost gave up but now I’m going to invest time and money to hopefully fix this for a while.
I found 3’ wide weed cloth that will last 15 years and has markings so you can cut it in 1’ wide sections. I’m going to cut them 20’ long x 1’ wide and cut 6” in where each vine was planted (40” apart). Then I’m going to weed whack the weeds, put on the week cloth, staple where needed, and cover it with 2-3” of organic mulch. I think this should solve the issue of weeds in the vine rows, warm the vines quicker in the spring and save labor in the long run. I figure the return on the investment will be 1.5 years.
Come visit in the spring and see how it turned out
The top picture is with ecocover and mulch.
August and September are normally quiet times in the vineyard. However, this year I had to put up my fruiting and trellis wires. I’m also going to do a demonstration row to prevent weeds this winter and next year. Hope to do that next week….I’m sure you are all awaiting pictures. I’m probably going to do a combination of compost/mulch cardboard and Sonoma County Landfill mulch.
Wires – 109.5 hired
Spray – 5 hours Aug 4-8
Spray – 5 hours Aug 16-19
Aug 22 – 2 hours Mow
Aug 23 – 1.5 hours weed and trial with cardboard
Aug 24 – 2 hours spraying
Aug 25 – 2 hours spraying, 1 hour mulch
Aug 31 – 3 hours spraying
Sept 1 – 2 hours spraying
January 62 hours 66
February 6 0
March 4 0
April 32 18
May 47 24
June 36 23 (2 hours from Clint/Linda!!!)
July 22 0
Aug 22 110
Sept 2 0
Total 233 241
Of the hired work……..90 hours were for weeding and 110 hours for the wires. If I can just figure out how to do less weeding, I’m going to be in better shape!
If you have been reading any of the entries the last year, you know that the hardest part of the vineyard so far is weed control. Well, last week I attended a meeting where a new product was show. In essence, what the product is made of is recycled paper and compost, cut into rolls or circles or squares. As you can see in the picture you put this around the vine and it will help keep out weeds. I’m thinking of putting them around all the vines as circles and then top it with mulch to keep the weeds out of the vine rows. I think that would be the least work for the most weed control…and perhaps it will save 200+ hours of weeding next year. I think putting out 50’ rolls and cutting each of them is to much work.
So how much…..I figure about $1,000 in carbdoard/compost and 60 yards of mulch for $700, plus the time to put them on.
Since Turtle Vines is striving very hard to be organic…..and I have mentioned that weeding is the most difficult issue the first two years…..we are now flaming our weeds! Just started today and I’m a little afraid that I might fry the little vines. So I’m going very fast and will see how it goes. Won’t really know until bud breaks in about 6 weeks whether I hurt them or not. Cross your fingers.
By the way, the reason behind flaming is to get the moisture out of the weeds without burning them. If they burn, then the roots will not die…..so you have to make sure they just look wilted.
The second year of the vineyard is still all about weeding and establishing the vines in the soil to be healthy. So, yesterday we pruned all of the vines back to where they started last spring when we planted them. I just hope that the root system is well established and will provide a base for the coming year. The hope is that this year they will grow to about 6’ tall.
For all those of you wondering if we will have grapes this year…..yes and no. The plants will put out grapes but I’m supposed to cut them all of so the plant will continue its vegetative growth. So sad!!!
Lastly, an update on the weeds. I put some pictures in for your view. Again my process is going to be: pull out the big weeds, remove the weeds from the field by wheel barrow, weed whack the rows, mow, flame the vine rows……and repeat all year long. What fun.
When you have a vineyard, everyone always says how romantic! Well, if you don’t work year round you pay for it later. In the fall/early winter we finished the back landscaping, took a trip to Forks, WA and had company for Christmas. So……didn’t get to weeding except for 3 days…..about 5 hours worth. After an unexpected trip, I’m back at it again. I hope that if I can get it under control it will be a lot better this year than last year.
Above are before and after photo’s of just the weeding.
After weeding real vineyard work begins. I get to remove the grow tubes and prune to 2 buds!!! Then all spring/summer tie the vines.
Here is my strategy:
1. Hand weed all of the big weeds that are in the vine rows
2. Weed whack what is left in the vine rows
4. Flame in the vine rows
5. Repeat #3 and #4
My guess is it will take me about 45 hours to weed the vineyard and about 8 hours to weed whack and another 8 hours to flame and 2 hours to mow. The flaming and mowing will probably be done at least 6 times in 2011.
Status so far for weeding:
2010 5 hours
1/12 3.0 1 hour weed whacking I’m 25% done with weeding
1/18 1.0 1.5 hours mowing
1/19 1.75 1 hour mowing, .75 hour weed whacking
1/24 6.0 +24 hours of “Graton Labor” help
1/25 4.0 +16 hours “Graton Labor” help, 2 hours (+8) of grow tube removal
1/26 0.0 4 hours of grow tube removal
Weeding 28.5 hours weeding + 40 hours “Graton Labor” = 68.5 hours
Now weed whacking and flaming to keep it looking good!!!
1/27 2 hours collecting bad grow tubes, 2 hours collecting weeds from row
1/28 1 hour collecting weeds from rows, 4.5 hours weed whacking
1/29 1 hour collecting weeds from rows
1/31 4.5 hours weed whacking
2/7 1.5 hours collecting weeds, 1 hour flaming
2/8 1.5 hours collecting weeds, .75 hours flaming
2/9 .75 hours flaming, .4 hours mowing
2/10 1.5 hours flaming, .3 hours mowing
2/12 1 hours flaming, 1.5 hour mowing, 5 hours collecting weeds