Thursday, March 18, 2010

The art of pruning

A big task that has to be done and will need continual work is pruning the vines. I worked on a group of grapes called Goldmuskateller. These white grapes are part of the older group of plants at Brunnenburg. Unlike the new plants that are fungus resistant, these need more chemical spray throughout the year. To promote new growth one can prune the branches of a perennial plant so that only one strong branch is left. It is important to not damage the eyes of the branch, where new growth will stem from. Damaging the eyes may slow down the growth of new branches. Pruning is essential to growing grape vines. When coming upon a plant you can see all of the growth from the previous year. I carefully cut the new growth away leaving only one branch to remain. Nik did this part while I stayed behind him and cleaned up the area, getting rid of all the other branches. This task will go on until all the vines are pruned and ready for the upcoming season.


The vine after it has been cut

Same as above but zoomed out

View from the vineyard

After all the plants are pruned and cleaned, they are ready for the next step. The areas that have been cut are like opened wounds for the vine and make it easier for bugs or bacteria to enter the vine and potentially kill it. To protect the vines we applied a glue that was mixed with copper. This physically caps off the open wound and gives the vine some extra chemical protection. I carried the tub of glue around and used a simple paintbrush to apply it the vines. I then went up and down the rows hitting up each plant as I went by. This glue does not hurt the plant, as long you do not apply to the top of the one good branch.

The glue

Applying the glue to the vine
Glue dried

The cut vines must also be raked up and disposed of. Although I did not do this directly, you are basically cleaning up the area and making it less cluttered. The vines are put into piles at the end of the rows and then into crates that are taken away and dumped at another part of the property. As of today, all of the Goldmuskatellers are pruned, about half are covered in the glue and the area still needs to be cleaned up.

Vines on the ground

Bunched up
In the crate

Workday this week was simple and I focused on one task, building a fence by the pigs. I worked with Jordan and Robbie on it. Like many of the other fences that are put up here, we started by digging a hole for a post. The holes had to be about 70 centimeters deep and wide enough for a wooden post. The first two gave us some trouble because there was a layer of the old road right underneath the dirt. We had to really break it all up to get through. The rest of the posts went in easier. By the time we got them all in, it was getting close to lunch. We completed one side before we headed off to lunch.

The first attempt at the fence

The side

After lunch we helped Jane out with a different task. She has been working on the vegetable garden for the last couple of weeks. Putting in raised beds and adding soil. It was decided that dirt from Mira's pen, that has been tumbled around and broken up, would be added to the garden. This meant we had to lug wheelbarrows loads of dirt up into the garden and dump it. We worked through this task but it was a hassle because we wanted to make sure no rocks made there way up to the garden. This meant all dirt loads had to be sorted. To make this go faster Jane and Spencer made a screen to filter out the rocks. This made the dirt almost rock free and will benefit the garden.

Jane giving us the low down

Searching for rocks

The day was coming to a close but the fence still had to be built. Robbie and Jordan went back to the task as I helped finish with the dirt. Things were going good until Nik informed us that the fence boards were to far apart and the animals would be able to get through. This meant we had to take off all the boards and start over. We worked on fixing the fence but were not able to finish it before the end of the day. Even though it was frustrating to have to start over, it was better to do a project the right way however, this also means the fence is not complete and still needs to be finished.

Feeding time

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