Saturday, April 25, 2015

Where it all starts

April is always a busy time.  Since I had a Saturday available, I decide to make a trip up the farm in Rhineland on April 25, 2015 to check on the growings on there. I wanted to make sure that all of the plants for the year were getting off to a good start.  My major concerns were the hops, blackberries, and grapes.  Throughout the last few years, with the help of some wonderful volunteers, I have almost completed all of the trellises needs for growing the fruit at the farm.   My major project was to finish the trellis for the Norton grapes since they need a "Geneva Double Curtain" style trellis because of their aggressive nature.  I also wanted to do some pruning and mulching as well.  (and some turkey hunting). 

The first step was to tweak a few parts of the newly built blackberry trellis.  I originally had two plants from Matuz that were donated.  I used one sucker to replant last year.  This spring I planted another sucker and two more plants from Matuz for a total of six blackberries plants on the new trellis. 
Row of blackberries with new trellis and older blackberries in front.

My father (Der Vater von Der Brauer) also acquired 6 blueberry bushes from a local nursery that was closing down.  They are planted next to the blackberry trellis. 

Blueberry bushes. Had bees flying all around the flowers. 
Blackberries and blueberries together
Next step was to check on the hops.  All hops had sprouted and were a few feet high except for the the Golding variety that was newly planted last year.  I pruned the hops back so that there will be 3 vines per plant.  I also set up the drip irrigation system for the summer.  I know it is early but a few years ago there was a very dry May and I didn't have the system set up yet and it ruined the plants for the rest of the year. 

All six hop plants.  Glacier, Willamette, 2 Goldings, Tettnang, and Fuggle. 
An example of the drip irrigation on the Fuggle.
Gravity fed from rain water. Very useful when I can only get up there to check on them about once a month.
The last project was the grapes.  A few weeks ago I had the help of a "red bearded man" to build 2 more of the grapes trellises.  This has definitely been the toughest part of all the projects at the farm.  It has been difficult and expensive to find and buy the equipment and it has been the most labor intensive.  The trellises are about 90% complete.  All that needs to been done now is to string the wire across the posts for the Norton variety. 

The grapes are doing well for this time of year.  The Niagara variety is doing the best.  One Niagara vine is completely attached to the wire and I am now pruning it as a mature vine.  One of the Vidal Blanc vines snapped off in a storm last year and it did not survive the winter.  The only place I have found,  only sells them in groups of 5 and I really don't want to do that again because I have done it in the past and it costs too much.  If anyone finds a single Vidal Blanc vine at a home and garden store please let me know!

The Norton variety requires a "geneva double curtain" style trellis because it is so aggressive.  There will be two top trellis lines and each vine will alternate which line it attaches two so that it will have more room.  The T-Posts have been attached and now all I need to do is secure them and run the wire across which should be pretty easy.
The Niagra variety is doing the best.  No idea why.  No sure if it is the location of the row or the variety itself.
The best vine that I have.  It is a Niagara and it hurt to prune it because it looked so good but it is for the best.  If you can see, it has about 5-7 shoots coming of the 2 main canes on the trellis line.  These will eventually hang down.  Each shoot has been pruned to about 3-5 buds which have created shoots which will eventually produce grapes clusters. (fingers crosses, but I have had much smaller vines produce grapes clusters in the past so I'm feeling good about it)
Complete vineyard
After driving up late the night before and getting up early to turkey hunt, Der Brauer took a much needed nap in the late afternoon while listening to the rain hit the tin roof in the cabin.  

-Der Brauer

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