Sunday, 24 April 2011

Pearl Glands

Pearl Glands on a new shoot from a Chardonnay vine

What appear like insect eggs have appeared on the new shoots of the vines, mainly the Chardonnay. In fact these are what are known as Pearl Glands which are tiny balls of vine cells which result from seepage of stomata on the shoots. They often appear on the stems,tendrils, petioles or leaf veins on vigorous vines in warm humid conditions.

Pearl Glands are harmless but may attract ants as a food source.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Bud Burst and the Dreaded Frost

Bud Burst on the 10th April

Bud burst is now occurring throughout the vineyard. We are probably 3-4 weeks ahead of what we might expect as a result of the recent warm weather. On the face of it this is good news but it's also a worry as any frost from now on is likely to cause significant damage to the new growth.

Last night we had our first scare as temperatures at the bottom of the vineyard dropped to minus 2 degrees. As a result Alex and I were out on the vineyard throughout the night (ably supported by local friends JB and Peter) monitoring the temperature. We started the Frost Guard and lit the Orchard Burners but held off on lighting the Boujies as the temperature started to rise at about 3.30am as a result of some cloud cover. Eventually we got to bed at about 5.00am!

A sleepless night but worth it for peace of mind.

JB, Peter and Alex keep warm by an Orchard Burner

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Spreading the Woodchip

The Mill Creek Compost Spreader

Weeds can be a big problem in organic vineyards as we can't use herbicides to control them. We opted to use woodchip as a mulch which has generally proved to be an excellent solution.

Spreading the woodchip along the rows can be a difficult and time consuming task and so we initially hired a compost spreader from Laverstoke Park Farm to do the job. Initially we thought that spreading it would be a one off exercise but in practice we have already had to replenish some rows and so we have now invested in a compost spreader of our own. We will also be able to use it for spreading PAS100 compost, and possibly organic manure, to add nutrients to the soil.

The spreader (with operator) is for hire if anyone is interested!