Chronicles of the Long Shot Farm

The Asparagus Project and More

Last weekend we had snow, and just 7 days later we all have our first sunburn!  It was in the mid 70’s all weekend and we got a LOT of our garden planted.

We started off with tackling the “1000 Asparagus Root”project (yes, Jeff, Jens and Zach decided this was a good idea and promptly ordered 1000 roots).  We planted about 1/4 of them in our garden, but the remaining 750+ roots were planted in Zach and Rachel’s new Asparagus Patch.

For a break, we trimmed grape vines … down to the last few rows of Corot Noir.  These grape vines are nearly as far along as the Concord vines, with imminent bud break.  Luckily we are pruning them last!

The garden is disked, and several rows of plastic with irrigation lines are already laid down.  Getting ready to plant!!  We did get seed potatoes, red beet, carrot, spinach and lettuce seeds….plus some parsley and cilantro plants for the herb garden.  Sadly we ran out of time, and the potatoes will have to wait until next weekend.

Berry Patches Revived

Despite the unseasonable cold weather (and snow), we managed to get a lot of work done on the farm this weekend.  The most important task was to plant the remaining 100  Niagara grapes – so that plot now has 150 grapes in about .5 acres.

We planted 14 new blueberry bushes, slightly enlarging the patch near the barn, and replacing some of the previously planted bushes.  We also applied aluminum sulfate to the blueberry patch, to keep soil acidity low in order for the bushes to thrive.

Our strawberries started shooting leaves over a week ago and the colder weather has not slowed them down.  We cleaned up the patch and then covered it with straw, letting only the new leaves show through.

The elderberry patch also got a good “thinning out”.  They need to be pruned almost like brambles (just not as often).  Old fruiting canes need to be removed so that new canes can grow and bear fruit.  And yes, we are still cleaning up and pruning in the blackberry patch – just two more rows to go!!

Planting Traminette

We had lots of helpers this weekend to plant 200 new Traminette grape vines.  It did not take us that long at all!

Anja and Leif are planting
girls taking a snack break

We stuck to our “proven” method of planting vines, but this year, we surrounded each vine with cardboard (which we had been saving all winter), and then we covered the cardboard with mulch.  Hoping that this will keep the weeds a bay and allow the grapevines a head start.  It certainly looked pretty when we were all done.

Half the vines were grafted, using rootstock #3309, the other half was not grafted.  We’ll try and document the difference in growing habits, disease resistance, winter hardiness etc.  

Welcoming Spring with Mulched Flower Beds

Saturday was spent weeding – yes, the weeds are poking through already! Followed by mulching the flower beds around the house as well as the herb garden.  Seems that we had a great opportunity to get this done much earlier than in past years, and just in time for Spring to arrive.  Actually had to double check when the first day of Spring happens in the Mid Atlantic region – found the answer on the Farmer’s Almanac website.  It happens at 12:30 am on March 20th, 2016.

Eastern Winery Expo

Jens and Tina each took a day off work to attend one day of the Eastern Winery Exposition – which is held in Lancaster every other year (the odd years are held in Syracuse).  We split up for the educational sessions, so that we could cover the double track of seminars.  Luckily we did, as there was a lot of good information! We also had time to walk through the exhibit area and talk to a lot of vendors.

Sessions that were especially useful were a track dealing with the chemistry, processing and fermentation of fruit wines; and a session devoted entirely to Chardonel,
which is a variety we recently planted.  Other sessions dealt with filtering protocols for winemakers, and fungal disease prevention in the vineyard.

We ran into several winery owners we knew, met new ones and also met several of Tina’s former “classmates” from the HACC enology/viticulture program. Definitely a worthwhile day!