Wow, I didn't realize that it had been so long since we had posted an update here on our blog. It's not that we're lazy or just had nothing to write about. On the contrary, we have been quite busy!
The Vines are doing good, or should I say – “As good as can be expected”, considering that we have been through some pretty hot days this past couple of months. It seems that this year has been a difficult year, first we had all of the torrential rains and the related problems. And now, we are getting some pretty “Hot” days that have brought along their own set of problems for us.
One would think the weather would have been good for our plants. But we have had a few struggles to deal with.
- All the rain – the rain really did a number on the vines due to the soil we have here in Baldwin City. Our soil is made up of a lot of clay. When we drilled the holes for the vines we never imagined that these auger holes would act as planter boxes. The holes retained the water, and so our vines sat in a mucky mess for a period of time. After the water drained out then the soil finally dried up enough to allow the plants and their roots to dry out.
- “Hot” Dog Days of Summer – Once all the rains stopped, it seemed like we got about one week of good weather before the heat wave started. Bringing along with it the normal range of insect pests and enemies of grape vines.
- Weed Control – Left untouched the weeds quickly got out of control. Our weed management skills were a little relaxed and it allowed some of our vines to quickly get overtaken by the weeds. We've got it back under control, but it took a lot of work to get to where we are now. Now if we can just keep them in check we should be good. At least all the rain made something grow!
- Japanese Beetles – This is a pesky little critter. I think other vineyards had there fair share of problems from these critters but being more experienced they probably were more pro-active in their battle against them. Once we noticed these bugs and the damage they were doing to our new vines, they had already come out in force. We were a little slow in getting our act in gear to fight off these critters, but our spraying seems to have been effective in eradicating them. Bu unfortunately, not until they had already done some severe damage to our vines.
- Black Rot – After all the spring rains we got, we should have known to be watching out for the beginnings of any fungus related diseases. I think we were so focused on the beetle infestation, that we failed to identify the onset of Black Rot in our vines. We're on our second spraying week for this fungus and we hope that we have caught it soon enough to erradicate it before it causes us any further damage to our vines.
I've been told that it is difficult to grow an organic garden and that it is near impossible to grow an organic vineyard.
Now I understand why!
While a lot of the vineyards in the area are exclaiming how this has been a GREAT year for their vines. Our vines have struggled in their first year and have made us second guess the Organic Vineyard approach. It's been a lot of work getting things back under control and hopefully over the next few months the vines will make a comeback and catch up to where they should be by time the dormant winter months arrive.
These past few months haven't all been about hard work though…
We're sporting around some new t-shirts with The Vines logo (Thank You Kenny). So you may see us running about town wearing some of our new apparel.
BTW – Next month I will have some good news to share, but let's not spoil the secret just yet!
Until next Time…