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Starting Early

March 5, 2012 Leave a comment
Peach Pits

Peach Pits

I’ve been waiting for several months to experiment with fruit tree seeds, and the time is about right to thaw them out and give them a shot. The seeds have been stratifying in my freezer for several months, which … [ Continue Reading at http://itfarmersblog.com/?p=2523 ]

Tis the Season for Picking

September 26, 2011 2 comments
More Tomatoes to be Picked

More Tomatoes to be Picked

I’ve been trying to keep up with the ripening tomatoes since the first red alert cherries appeared, but somewhere along that timeline I fell pretty far behind, and my garden that used to be a sea of green has been blanketed with reddish orange romas and brandywines.  Davy, Sandy and I spent about 30 minutes to an hour collecting the tomatoes that we hope to give away. You see we are all pretty sick of processing tomatoes, and now that we have 120 jars full, we see no need to continue stocking up.

A Good Harvest

A Good Harvest

Now that I’ve grown more tomatoes then I ever thought I’d see in a lifetime, I’m wondering just how many of these plants I should start in next years garden. While we got far more tomatoes  then we need, none of them will go to waste. I may trim the plant count a bit, but I don’t think 100 plants would be too many.  I can then use the space that would have gone to tomato plants for starting fruit trees in the greenhouse this spring.

Peppers

Peppers

After cleaning up the tomato patch, Jessica and I moved onto the pepper patch, and quickly filled a crate with Chablis, Flexnum and California Wonder peppers. Somehow a Purple Kohlrabi wound up in the mix.

Concord Grapes

Concord Grapes

After a cup of coffee or two, it was time to move onto picking grapes. We picked Concord grapes from three native vines, then sorted them out removing all of the rotten and dried out grapes.

Straining out the Pulp and Seeds

Straining out the Pulp and Seeds

Instead of making wine we decided to try out grape juice production just to see how hard it would be, and how much work was involved. As the photo shows, many hands make quick work. I haven”t yet tried the taste of the juice once it’s been chilled, and if it’s worthwhile, I’ll share the recipe.

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More Cherries and Berries

July 27, 2011 Leave a comment
Tart Cherries

Tart Cherries

I took a look around to see just how much rain we had gotten from a recent storm. I was very happy to see that the soil seemed satisfied for the time being, and I had no obligation to carry 5 gallon buckets of water half way across the farm to cure my plants thirst. I soon found my self with a zip lock bag in my hand, picking some tart cherries, and I thought I’d share the view. These are berries which were planted by the grape arbor near a small crick which runs through the center of the farm.

Grapes

Grapes

Just around the corner, I noticed how good this season’s grapes look. I’ve made my own potion and suggested that it be called wine in the past, but I’d like to make another attempt at fermenting these grapes into a pleasing mixture. This may be the crop that I get to experiment with, so I’m keeping a close eye on the plants, and the grapes.

Blueberries

Blueberries

Just a few paces away grow some tiny blueberry plants. I’d guess they are about five years old, and they sure are taking their time in their vertical race. I’ve been trying to bring the soil to the proper PH, which is lower then most other plants, using wood shavings. The berries are quite good, even thought I am generally not a fan of these berries. They must be a special type of blue berry if I like them !

Better Days, Soon

Better Days, Soon

Just as I was about to put the camera away for the night, I saw this beautiful sunset. If everything does happen for a reason, I’d say this display is clearly meant to suggest better days are coming, and they may just be right around the corner.

It’s Begun

March 14, 2011 Leave a comment
Celery Seeds in Dirt

Celery Seeds in Dirt

I’ve been waiting patiently, restraining myself from starting any seeds till the time is right, and that time is now. The season begins for me with Celery, which should be started 11 weeks before the last frost, several weeks before most other seeds will be started.

This is only my second attempt at growing the crispy garden snack, and last year didn’t go so well. I was not aware of the long amount of time required by Celery for Germination, gave up on the seedlings too soon, and re-used the dirt for other seeds. Later in the season, I found one celery plant by luck.

Chard Under Cover

Chard Under Cover

I ventured out to check on my chard cover over the weekend, taking a few pictures in the dark. I set my flashlight at the end of the small hoop-house, pointing the light towards the opposite end of the tunnel.

View from the Side

View from the Side

This tunnel setup is working so well that I may use it next winter in an attempt to grow Chard year round. The leaves which are not covered by the tunnel are wilting when they are covered with snow, but the plants under the protective cover are starting lots of new shoots, which should be edible in a week or two.

Concord Grape Canes

Concord Grape Canes

I finally got around to cloning a few grape vines. Jenny and I clipped a few canes from two vines on the farm, and I planted the clippings in these small ceramic pots. In the past I would have gotten carried away and started dozens of grape vines, but this year I’m trying to be more realistic, so I’ve only started a few. If your interested in the process for cloning your own vines, check out this post.

Grape Graft

Grape Graft

I’m always trying new things as I figure if I do this enough times, I’m bound to figure out some pretty neat tricks. Since I’ve read about grafting fruit trees, and I’ve heard that the root stock will color the flavor of fruit which the scion bears, I thought I’d try something similar with grape vines. I started with two clippings, from two different vines, and fused them together as a apple scion would be fused to root stock. I used some candle wax to seal the bond, and prevent air from drying out the canes. I’m hoping the difference in the two types of grape vines will cause the grapes to have a very interesting flavor.

Fruit Experiment

Fruit Experiment

Above is my latest experiment with cloning fruit trees. I put this together in haste, and it shows as my taping is very sloppy. You can see the buds beginning to open on the peach canes, and all of the other clippings are showing growth when you look close. I’ve gotten this far in the past, but I remain hopeful for this batch as I’m shielding the roots from light this time. Soon the clippings will deploy new leaves, and with some luck, they will grow new roots, which would be a step forward for my experiment.

Here Comes The Work Part of Winter

December 9, 2010 Leave a comment
The Farm

The Farm

I’ve been thinking about getting a jump start on the winter season by pruning my fruit trees and grape vines before it gets too cold, but Mother Nature apparently has a different plan. This morning, just as the sun was raising itself in the sky, I noticed the temperature at 5 F;  Several inches of snow cover the ground, and I’ve found my plans for getting ahead of the season thwarted. I guess it’s for the better, as I’m still in need of my yearly Youtube pruning instructions for a quick refresher of the do’s and don’ts of tree trimming.

Fruit Trees Await Their Yearly Pruning.

Fruit Trees Await Their Yearly Pruning.

When I’ve finished pruning these trees, I’ll have lots of cuttings to experiment with, so I’ll need to get some new ideas for cloning hard woods. I have yet to find a source which states that cloning fruit trees is possible, but I can be quite stubborn, and I won’t let this idea go. I’m going to try a sandy soil base this time, and mist the cuttings more so then in the past. I’ve learned that too much top growth can be bad for clones, so I’ll try to encourage root growth more then anything.

Grape cloning is another possibility for this time of year, and I’ll try not to get carried away again. I’d love to start new vines, as it’s one of the few signs of growth in the winter, but I simply have too many grape plants to tend already.  I’m sure rational thought will go out the window however;  when I’m knee deep in grape vine trimmings. I’ll wind up with a room full of grape vines, with no where to plant them. I’ll just have to pawn them off on neighbors and co-workers….

Categories: Fruit Trees, Grapes, Planning

Mapping Progress

November 20, 2010 Leave a comment
Blue Concord
Blue Concord

In the long term, I hope to clone most of the grapes which I’ve planted near the garden. The cloning part isn’t that difficult, but keeping track of each specific vine’s name over the course of several years may prove the hardest part. That’s where my Tiny Vineyard Map comes in. This morning, I walked around all of the now dormant vines, and noted each varieties name on a small map.

Vine Map
Vine Map

I also decided that this blog may be the best place to store maps of various plants, so here’s a map of my small orchard as well:

Small Orchard Map
Small Orchard Map

I may need to amend this orchard map, as two of the small trees didn’t seem to be doing that well this fall. There are also two new sweet cherry bushes which would be on a third line below the Red Delicious and Cortland apples on the left hand side of this map.

A Few Good Grapes

September 15, 2010 1 comment
Concord Grapes

Concord Grapes

The last two years, have been brutal for grape production. I’m not sure if it is something I’m doing wrong or if the weather is too blame. Last year all of the grapes withered before they began to turn purple, and this year, there were not many actual grapes. I’m thankfull for the bunch above though, because it’s at least an improvement from last year. The vines have grown out of control on the trellis by the small creek, and I need to spend a day retraining them to grow up the trellis, rather then every other direction. 

 These vines were planted about five years ago. When they were placed in the ground, they were about the same size as the small plants I’ve been cloning the last two years. So I can expect five years of growth before the first grapes are produced from my little clones.

All in all, Even though there are few, they taste Great !