Monday, May 3, 2010

Bud Break, Weed Control, and Then and Now

Please excuse my random title for this post.  Too many thoughts and ideas swimming around in my head and instead of pinning down just one topic, I'm trying to put all these somewhat related topics together and segue from one to the next.  Bear with me. 

It's hard to complain about a beautiful and unseasonably warm spring in Minnesota.  We had virtually NO snowfall in March and April has been warm and sunny, with just enough rainfall for a nice start to growing season.  Everything is about a month earlier than normal, including the grapevines.  We were a little worried we'd have early bud break and still get a late frost, which would not be good for the vines.  But as more time passes, that risk decreases.  And the forecast is not giving us anything to worry about at this point. 

These are the first vines we planted that are now on their third year.  These will be the vines that will produce grapes for wine making this year! 

Feels like just yesterday they were just babies in their grow tubes.  But was two years ago already!

And our vineyard shot from this side looked like this two years ago.

Now it looks like this.


Here is a second year vine that we planted last May that has done a lot of growing just in the last few weeks.

They are still young and need to work on growing up, not out.  So we have been spending time "suckering" which is basically pinching off all but a one or two buds on the vine so it will put energy into growing up, instead of turning into a bush which is its natural tendency without training, pruning, and suckering. We even have to pinch off berries or grapes that might develop too early.  That was a hard concept for me to grasp at first, but I am getting the hang of it now.

Speaking of bud break, I got started transporting some of my vegetable flats into the ground.   Peppers, sugar snap peas, zucchini, cucumber, lettuce, radish, and carrots made it in the ground this weekend.  Here are a most photogenic vegetable plants so far.

Sugar Snap Peas

I've mentioned this before, but this landscape fabric over the garden was the best thing to ever happen to me.  After two years of looking like that lawn ornament of the plumper woman bending over showing her bloomers while she is weeding, I knew it was time to find a weeding solution.   Seriously, that's what I felt like!  Weeding is a bit of an obsession. There is nothing more satisfying to me than yanking a weed out of the ground after a good rain.  Love that feeling.   Except for the fact that when you have a garden this size and a vineyard to tend to, plucking them by hand out of the ground doesn't get you very far. 

Two years ago, there was an uncontrollable weed that grew into an enormous bush.  I was obsessed with killing it.  I started by pulling it out and it would grow back.  I doused the area with Round-up and it would come back.  I shoveled a hole 3 feet deep to try and get any piece of root of that weed possible and it grew back.  I took a chainsaw to that garden and that weed STILL grew back.   It was the snaggletooth of my garden.  Growing. Lurking.  I knew it was there and it was only a matter of days before it pop out.

Finally, I put down landscape fabric and I am happy to report the garden has been weed free!  If you are looking for a good weed control for your garden, you will not regret putting this on top.   Just poke holes with a knife where you want to plant.  It should last about 4 years or so and will save you time and back pain.