Let the battle begin!
Despite it being one of the rainiest Junes we’ve had on record, our vines are growing!
In general, the vines all look happy and healthy! The only problem we seem to have is that about 5-10% of the Seyvel Blanc vines did not make it. When planting, we noticed that some of their roots were looking a little sad, being small and black, but we decided to plant them anyway and give them a chance. Of these vines, some survived but were just a little slower at sprouting, while others simply didn’t make it. But aside from these few Seyvel Blancs, our overall vine survival rate has been really high. All that love we gave when planting them must have paid off!
But, the vines have not been the only thing growing. This past month has been the ‘battle of the weeds’ and we’ve only been able to get a glimpse of just how much work it will take to win this battle. As it is important that young vines get all the nutrients they need from the soil and because we do not want to use any harsh chemicals in the vineyard, we are left with weeding by hand, which is taking hours, and hours, and hours. Fortunately, we’ve been able to hire a little help for this on the weekends… but we still have a way to go. After one successful round of digging up all the weeds by their roots, however, we should be well on our way to victory.
In addition to the weeds growing, we’ve also been worried about mildew, especially with all the rain we’ve had these past few weeks. Powdery and downy mildew are fungal diseases that affect the leaves of the vines and are two serious threats that our vines will face in the Fraser Valley, particularly because this mildew thrives in cool and humid climates. Although the majority of the vines look fairly healthy, the pinot gris appear to have the beginnings of some powdery mildew growing, which is really not much of a surprise. We are well aware that this variety is susceptible to mildew, but wanted to try them anyways seeing as this is probably the only variety that most people will have ever heard of. So, to manage the mildew organically, we’ve come up with a spray plan that will involve a mixture of potassium bicarbonate and kumulus (sulphur) every two weeks to kill and also protect the vines from these mildews.
This past month we’ve had to ward off a third threat from our vineyard – a deer! We rarely have deer that come all the way down the mountain and into our property, but for some reason this one was curious and wanted to check things out. Deers apparently love the fresh new buds on grape vines, as well as the fruit when there is some. Some vineyards are forced to build fences to protect their vines from deer, but we decided not to because deer are almost never seen here. We began to worry that this little guy would come one morning and eat all what we planted. But, thankfully, we haven’t seen him since.
A last update I should note is that we received our Epicure vines from Vancouver Island last week and spent Canada Day (July 1st) planting them. Again, our good friends Sheila and Barbara helped us tremendously as we planted our last vine for the year! Now, with planting complete, we can focus our energy towards winning the battle of the weeds, spraying for mildew, and finishing the trellis system.