We’ve had a good autumn here, nice and warm through September, turning chiller in the mornings and evenings in October, but mild and dry into November, all of which helped the harvest and wine making. It has also given us some wonderful colours out in the vines and in the garden as you can see below.
We’ve made a start on our winter jobs, in the photos below you can see we have already started on the weeding. Being organic, weeding is a critical but time consuming job and it is necessary to get the timing right. At this time of year we heap the the soil up beneath the vines, using the plough tine attached to the side of the tractor, when the weeds grow through in the spring, we use a blade which takes away the heap of soil and after that, when the ground is too hard we use a brush to remove any remaining weeds.
Other winter jobs which need to be done as a matter of urgency are the ploughing, this decompacts the soil and breaks up any surface roots. Another job is the fertilising and last year we also put down a cover crop of barley and broad beans which helped get the vines in tip top condition which in turn helped us get good quality and good yields this year. Cover cropping with broad beans helps to fix nitrogen in the roots and the barley helps with soil structure. Ideally this will be planted out before the first frosts.
The other big winter job is the pruning, we like to wait until after the first hard frost before starting so that the sap has retreated into the roots which helps to protect from any potential infection in the pruning wound. After pruning we pull the pruned wood off of the wires, then there is the the removing and replacing broken posts and wires, the wires also need tightening, then we need to attach the new cane to the wire.
In other words, plenty to keep us busy!!