jamie goode's wine blog

Sunday, April 23, 2006

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.


At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Ian W said...


Tsk tsk - slug pellets! Not only chemical interference in the rich pattern of life, etc. but not particularly friendly to small mammals like hedgehogs, birds like thrushes and reptiles like toads who eat slugs and snails like they are mana from heaven (another philosophical discussion perhaps?!).

Next time please have a go with some organic alternatives like a band of broken eggshells or grit roung the base of the vines, a French friend of mine uses broken up oyster shells, which gives him the excuse of plying his wife with them at frequent intervals! Alternatively it might be worth a go with wax bands round the trunks. Cost might be an issue for thousands of vines, but fo 60 I would guess that you could grit the lot for less than a tenner.

As for glyphosate, a sharp hoe is a better bet, an hour hoeing is probably better for the soil, definately better for the environment and particularly good for you!

On the issue of bud burst, I was in Tuscany ten days ago, and the buds were only just beginning to burst but even then only in the warmer locations. Everyone was complaining about what a long cold winter they had just had.

At 10:41 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Ian, you are right. I'm embarrased to have gone with the option I chose. Next time I will take the alternatives: I'm acutely aware that at present, time spent tending vines is time taken away from family life, and while a little is appropriate and healthy (we all need to play), too much is negligent. I'm hoping in the near future not to be juggling quite so many balls, and time hoeing could be very good for the soul.

As an aside, I once spent a week of my life radiotracking hedgehogs. They are adorable creatures.

At 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHat you really need is a couple of vestal virgins dancing under the moonlight, that will solve all your vineyard problems, well, doesnt solve them , just distracts you really. The grreks used to whip themselves into extasy, and were able to fertalise the soil, using themselves as a plough. You could try that as it is truly authentic, couldnt get M Chapoutier interested in it when I mentioned it to him though.

try using a water sprinkler on the vines if it is frosting, but you need to start up the water before it hits 1 degree,

Sean H

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

can you believe it, but here in the UK we have a hosepipe ban (in April) and so I can't use a sprinkler...

At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, you are buggered then, tried some COS wines, from near Vittoria Sicily, look them up, interesting wines, bretty but not bad
Sean H


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