February 26th, 2012

cap, captain miss america

I heard it through the grapevine

It’s getting to be the time of year when, for people who like to create food from the ground up, we need to be preparing for making food.

A lot of people ask me why, when I live in New York City, arguably one of the most always-on places in the world, I spend so many of my weekends in Connecticut at my parents’ house– especially in the winter, when the garden is not producing, and the bees are hibernating their little hearts out.

Here are one of the things we do in the winter. This year, I did it singlehandedly, because both of my parents were busy with other work.

This is what a grape arbor looks like in the winter.


It’s basically a whole lot of bare vines, in a great big tangle.  Grape vines are a lot like roses.  Every year, you want to cut back most of the new growth from the year before, leaving only the “main vines to sprout new growth for the coming season.  This needs to be done in the winter, before the vines begin growing again.

We also put up an arbor mid-season last year, because this was the first year our grapes had enough growth to really need something apart from the fence.  So, as you can see, the vines were sort of selective about whether they wanted to grow on the arbor or not.  Some grew on the arbor.  Some grew on the fence. Some grew on the arbor and then turned around and grew on the fence.  Some just decided to be stubborn little brats and grow on the rhubarb.

So, today, I went in with my clippers and pruned the heck out of the arbor.  Basically, you want to prune off pretty much everything but the main vine, and you want to do it as close to the wine as possible:


It took about an hour to trim everything back to where we wanted it.  I had a little difficulty because the snow had frozen shut the gate to the garden, so I had to do most of the work from outside the garden, reaching my hands through the wire fence.  The chickens were very, very curious about what the heck I was doing.  After everything was trimmed, I trained all of the remaining vines onto the arbor, with one exception– there was one vine that was very thick and heavy and mostly growing on the garden side of the fence, so it was difficult to move.  I also got all the grapevines untangled from the hops vines, which was very exciting.    This is what it looked like when I was finished:


By early autumn, believe it or not, this will be back to looking like the “before” picture– only with lots of leaves and fruit on it!!


Mirrored from Nommable!.