Jack and the Vine Stock Living Mulch Larger in Life with Proper Treatments
Outside the vines have been growing like they were kin to Jack’s famous bean stalks. Despite being concerned about the clover taking over and impacting the vines, they have been so vigorous that I think planting the clover as a living mulch was a very good idea at this point. As you can see in the picture (right side of picture below the cordons), the New Zealand white clover has filled in amazingly well around the vines. I had left some space unseeded below each vine and did not plant any near the new Syrah to avoid competition, everywhere it was seeded it has completely filled in, aside from a few weeds that popped up while the ground was barren the clover has choked everything else out. It is much nicer to walk on than the splintery mulch, makes the yard look much more lush, after getting established the clover is so thick it has needed minimal watering, finally it is supposed to be a good nitrogen fixer for the vines. Some unanticipated outcomes of the clover:
· Speed of growth. It started out splotchy for a few weeks and then suddenly everything was covered (even the stepping stones, laid to avoid crushing bees).
· The clover has grown to about 18”+, had expected only about 12” tops. May whack it down soon, may not.
· Wasps seem to like clover. I knew, and can confirm, bees love it but I just watch my step and we all get along. The wasps on the other hand, they are like petting that friends “schitzo” cat, you know the kind, loving one second, then pet cemetery flesh peeling, possessed, psycho beast the next. Not that I try petting wasps but I just don’t seem to trust the, “leave them be, they’ll leave you be”, they seem to enjoy doing fly-by’s far too close and often for my comfort.
At this point I feel the clover has been a good choice but time will tell.
The picture was taken prior to my pruning and bi-weekly treatment. My summer pruning is mostly aimed at maintaining moderate sun exposure and good airflow to the clusters and next year’s buds, controlling growth and attempting to ensure an 18-20 leaves per cluster ratio. It would be nice if it were that simple for me, perhaps I over think things, but I have some strange stuff going on I didn’t anticipate. When the vines grew too high I topped them off, this of course kicked off the secondary shoot brigade and within weeks they were all over the place. Those secondary shoots up top were soon well beyond the previous topped. They also threw off my leaf count and started new grape clusters of their own. Do I need to keep at these and work to keep strict control on a weekly basis? Or can I relax a bit and just keep the overall shape and maintain proper exposure and airflow to the clusters?
Also in the picture you can see the remnants of my previous treatment. The white is Surround WP. My bi-weekly treatment which has worked, mostly, is the following all mixed and applied every two weeks:
· Surround WP – for keeping away Glassy Winged Sharpshooter (GWSS).
· Neem Oil – Also hoping it will help to deter the GWSS
· Stylet Oil – to control any powdery mildew which has been a problem in the past
I say “mostly” worked because I have found two GWSS this year, but that has been all. No eggs or nymphs at all. As for powdery mildew it is difficult to tell with the Surround, as you can see, but the leaves all seem healthy, though some reddish coloring on some leaves as can be seen.
There is still so much to discuss outside in the vineyard with odd growth/non-growth oddities (see the gaping hole on the cordon of the closest vine in the picture), as well as the planting and rapid growth of my new Syrah. However, next post I will get back to the wine making side, the degassing phase, and try to finish up with my experience through to bottling, the rest will follow.