Original Post: 10th of December 2012
It’s now December and the season so far hasn’t been idyllic. We had beautiful spring weather, with cool nights and warm days and a good splattering of rain. Two weeks ago, we thought all of this had come to an end with 35oC+ days and warm nights, but fortunately it only lasted a few days. It was a good warning of what might lay ahead as the summer season unfolds.
The vines have grown vigorously this year after putting down some chicken and seaweed manure on each vine late in the winter. We had two beautiful smelly trucks arrive, filled to the brim with manure, which proceeded to unload their contents in a big heap (no pun intended). We then observed a boy, around the age of 4 years old, hop out of the truck looking like a miniature version of this Dad (including wearing riding boots, a checkered shirt and a cap) who said, “chook poo stinks, what are yagunna (you going to) use it on?.” When we explained to him that those dead things on the trellis are grapevines, he was certain that his “poo” would make them grow.
The vines have responded as predicted and have grown tremendously. We have de-suckered (i.e. removed lower vine branches), mown the inside of the rows and given the vines a sulphur spray to kill any potential mould. As a result, beautiful tiny bunches have grown and the “poo smell” that wafted down the Tunnel Road has almost gone (thankfully for our neighbours). We did notice that there was an increased level in fox visits to the vineyard, which were on the look-out for the chickens and instead got chook poo.
No irrigation has been required so far this season, but if the growth continues and the temperatures increase, irrigating will have to start soon. Our native grasses are managing the extra nitrogen and nutrients in the vineyard well, keeping the vines in balance. The vineyard rows will be mowed again and the waste used as mulch. We have seen lovely tiny bunches which are tempting us to think that we will have a bumper season. With the variations and temperature swings at the moment, we have our fingers crossed.