Ode to the Blackberry Patch

There is a natural order to things. A progression that life, land, nay, even civilation itself must traverse. Things are born, they grow, then they must pass away. Such is the world we have.

And like all things of this world, our beloved patch of blackberry also went through the inevitable development: wrestled back from the wild, converted into productive farm land, thus yielding bountiful berries. But then the disease set in, and drought, and floods. We fought with ingenuity, with science. We fought with sweat and toil. We pruned and picked. But alas, it succombed to the fate of all our land: from beautiful rows of delicious brambles, to a parking lot.

We loved you blackberry patch. We will miss you. You taught us much, and now we park our trucks on you. But beneath the gravel, we also buried a piece of our hearts.

Posted by Duff Neill and Anja Weyant

Trellis Repair

Zach, Lars and Jeff have been working hard today! They are replacing broken wood trellis posts in the concord patch with metal posts.  This is a three man job minimum; someone to drive the tractor, someone to hold the post, and someone to drill the post into the ground.

Jeff expertly drives the tractor down the rows and positions the bucket.  Lars drills the new post next to the failing one.  The neat tool Lars is using is a Skidril. It fits over the top of the post, held by Zach, and is jackhammered into the ground in just a few seconds. It is loud and heavy work. 

Posted by Anja Weyant

Blueberry Time

The blueberry harvest is in full swing.  The blueberry patch features several varieties of plants and is just next to the barn.  From the Winery deck you can view the patch. We added shiny metallic tape as a bird deterrent this year and the harvest is significantly larger.  Fortunately Anja’s family is in town and Rachel’s children were game to make some headway on the patch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Anja Weyant

Trimmin’ Traminette

Duff and Leif set about getting their field north of Possum Lake ready for summer. They have several rows of Traminette vines that were planted last year, but due to a bad case of downy mildew at the end of last summer (which had a never ending monsoon of rain, great for fungal diseases!), the vines had lost almost all growth.

Beyond the mildew, one must also contend with the voracious appetites of the Cumberland County white-tail. One would think that with the fields of oats, wheat, soybeans, hay, and sweet corn that cover Cumberland County, plus the odd manicured lawn, the deer would not have much use for grape vines. But as Duff’s father would say, that’s what you get for thinking. Deer will try and eat whatever is before them, even if they don’t like it, out of sheer boredom it seems.

This year is going to be different!

First Duff taught Leif how to trim back the vine to three or four healthy buds.  As it is early spring, the interior of the cane where it is still alive is green. Often there would be up to 6ft of dead vine from the downy mildew before one started finding green stem. After Leif got the hang of finding the living part of the vine, he would count three or four buds up from the roots, and prune the rest off. This was so the plant would focus its energy in making those few buds into long canes, not making 10 or 20 short little ones.

Meanwhile, Duff played John Henry, pounding oak stakes next to all the vines. This is for deer. Well, not so much for the deer, but rather to spite the deer. Tree tubes are placed next to the stakes and around the vines. The top of the tube is zip-tied to the oak stake. The base of the tube is buried mulch, and the vine after being trimmed is at the bottom.

Leif was a real trooper, and due to exercising at 7000ft regularly, thought running the oak stakes and tree tubes up and down the rows was easy work, even with the hard winds coming off the mountain. Enough light can still get through the blue tubes for the plant to grow.

So far, the deer have not taken to eating plastic tree tubes, which will protect the poor vines up until at least mid-summer, when the vine should poke out the top. When coupled with a bit more judicious spraying and a bit less rain, the vines should do well.

 

Posted by Anja Weyant

2019 Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention

This week the 2019 mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention is going on. Rachel spent time learning and taking the Private Pesticides Applicators exam (Good Luck Rachel)! Tina, Lars (Majoring in Plant Science at PSU), Rachel and Toben learned more about fruit and vegetable growing.  And growing grapes!

Toben even got an approved day off of school and is taking notes on early basal leaf removal and its affects on the health of vines.  As Jeff always says, “If you learned something today, it was a good day.”

Posted by Samantha Weyant Shaffer and Anja Weyant