The vines are finally budding. It's been quite an agricultural weekend for me. I dropped the boys off at cricket on Saturday morning and found myself with a couple of hours to spare. Time to visit the allotment, which I'd carried out a hurried last-minute pruning job on a fortnight previously.
I had some decisions to make. In an ideal world, I'd run my mini vineyard organically. But I'm short of time, and even with just 60 vines, I can't do all the jobs necessary on my limited time budget without resorting to some chemical help. Between rows I allow grass to grow, which I strim. But in the row itself, I've decided (rather guiltily) to spray with glyphosate (a biodegradable herbicide). And the young shoots get absolutely hammered by snails at this time of year, so I used some pellets to protect the youngest vines. Forgive me.
It's a nervous time of year, because the young buds are vulnerable to frost damage. I don't have any way of dealing with this (in some regions, they spend $$$$ on helicopters to invert the air, or use less grand and less effective counters such as lighting burners or spraying water on the shoots to form a protective ice layer), but I still watch the forecasts.
Of course, if I lose my shoots to frost it's a minor annoyance. I just grow vines for a bit of fun, and as an educational exercise. For many wine growers, it's their livelihoods on the line.