Monday, May 21, 2012

Grapes and Vermicompost

Growing grapes has been one of my recent new things. We had a good harvest last year, somewhat surprising since I have been blundering along in terms of pruning, one of the essentials of grape growing.
This year I am trying to observe how they grow so that I have a better idea of what to do at the end of next winter (and also during the year as the grapes vines spread all over the trellis).
At the end of winter I cut back last year's growth leaving about four buds on each of the many spurs and removing the rest. What I noticed yesterday (May 20th) was that each bud has grown out to about 4 "nodes", although I assume they will continue growing longer. At each node (except the first one) there is a leaf and opposite the leaf is what I expect will become the bunch of grapes. This projection has short side branches with little blobs at the end of each. In the axil of the leaf is another small (currently, at least) leaf. This photo is typical. The grapes are closest to the camera and the large leaf, with the little leaf in its axil, is on the opposite side of the vine.
The first node of the vine (and sometimes more) does not have the bunch of grapes branch, but just the leaf with a little leaf in the axil.

We started a new bed of raspberries three years ago and although all three new plants were supposed to be the same it became obvious that one was different. It had thorns and did not develop raspberries in July when the other two did. I began cutting it as if it were an early fruiting variety. It produced early raspberries last year and it is now (May 20th) beginning to flower while the others are still growing taller. In terms of pruning I have always cut our raspberries to the ground in the fall. But the early fruiting one produces berries on the previous year's growth, so that one is cut back to about three feet and berries are produced on the new growth off those three foot stems.

For years we have had composting worms in bins in our cellar from which I periodically harvest vermicompost. This ends up somewhere in the vegetable garden but I have never kept records of what effect, if any, it has on our vegetable production. It is supposed to be very nutritious for plants.
This year I mixed some of the vermicompost with compost from the OCRRA site and applied it to part of the pepper bed. In this photo there are twelve plants of three different pepper varieties. From the right of the photo they are garden sunshine, bullnose, and pepper king. Somewhat unscientifically I applied the vermicompost to the right side of the  bed so that all of the garden sunshine and six of the bullnose plants are affected. But all of the pepper kings and half of the bullnose just have regular OCRRA compost. The pepper kings are also spaced a little bit farther apart than the others. Later I will try to determine whether there is any difference in the growth or production of the plants. [This photo is taken looking west.]