The two sound the same, but the huge difference in physical exertion is very dramatic! Neither are particularly photogenic though!
|Vines from the nursery|
|Preparing them for planting - the green wax covers the graft between rootstock and vine|
Surprisingly, the planting of a new vineyard is rather unimpressive from an equipment point of view. Of course you can have the vines planted by machine – even a satnav controlled machine to ensure exact spacing between vines and rows, but we opted for the good old-fashioned planting by hand. Well, more like planting with the special fork-like metal rod that inserts the vine roots into the ground as you stamp heavily on it – but not too hard that you actually break the young vine. Of course, all of this is after everything has been measured by hand – or bits of wood and string in our case. We decided to go for 65cm between the vines in each row (so we will have a short shoot and low yield) and 2.2 metres between the rows, so we can fit a tractor between them when necessary.
Planting was quick, fun and very fulfilling….!
Oh, if only a new vineyard could just be that easy….
It all looked wonderful for the first few weeks. Then the weeds started…. With a new vineyard you have a couple of choices – or maybe “cheats”. Firstly you can decide to cover each new vine with a white plastic “sheath”. This protects the vine to a certain extent from hungry foragers such as rabbits and deer (unless you have your vineyard fenced – we don’t) but it also allows you to spray the soil around the vines with weedkiller as the vines are protected. However the downside is that if it gets very hot during the summer, the vines can sweat and wilt in the plastic coverings.
|Notice the areas that have been sprayed with weedkiller|
The other “cheat” is that you can opt not to use plastic sheaths, but apply a pretty heavy dose of weedkiller onto the surrounding soil immediately after the vines are planted – before the new shoots break the wax seal. Again, the vines are in theory protected – and the weeds are zapped.
We opted to do neither – mainly because the old land has not had pesticides on it for about 15 years and we want to try and keep them to a minimum. But the trade-off is weeds – and plenty of them. Not just weeds that grow in the surrounding soil, but weeds that creep, crawl and attempt to smother your vines – hello convolvulus!
The vines are too small to use any form of mechanisation, so the only way to deal with them is to take out a good old-fashioned hoe and start bashing away…
All 1,623 of them…
In rows up a steep hill…..
Clearing an 80cm wide path all the way up…..
In 30 degrees Celsius heat…
At the rate of about 110 vines per 120 minutes…
It’s funny how you can start to see the attraction of pesticides…
|Job done - temporarily....|
Anyway, job done – and the vineyard looked like a perfectly trimmed front lawn! Until the weeds started again….!
|They're coming back....|
But we kept at it – and now as Autumn approaches we’ll get a break – until next Spring…