November has arrived and brings some welcome warmer weather, at least initially! This is good for us and for the vines but no so good for the dogs. The snakes are stirring, so the dogs have to begin their summer confinement in the house garden, allowed out only under close supervision.
I cut tracks through the grass that is our lawn so we can see where we are walking in the morning and do the same with the tractor through the paddocks. We used to mow everything but I soon came to realize that we were probably doing more harm than good, particularly to the frog and insect population.
The soldier beetles came in their hundreds last week. They are fantastic at devouring the thrip on the roses and any other unwanted pests, so they are very welcome. They hang about best on the long grass, so I leave it for them. Less mowing for me!
We have plenty of other welcome visitors to the garden.
And the swallows have returned to their old nesting site to raise the family.
The vines are growing well, tips reaching to the sky.
We raise the trellis wires as they grow so that the shoots are supported and positioned as vertically as possible, hence the name of the trellis type is VSP: vertical shoot positioning.
The vines are flowering, beginning with the pinot and chardonnay. I have tried to find out how pollination occurs and it turns out that it is a vexed question and no-one really knows! Really?!!
Then the rain came, initially still with warm weather, then gradually cooler until we have been back into lighting the fire at night and rugging up during the day. Much as the water is welcome in house water tanks and on the garden, it brings the risk of fungal diseases in the vineyard. Downy mildew is always a possibility in this sort of weather and we make daily inspections of the vineyard looking for telltale signs. The first sign may be a lighter spot seen on the upper surface of the leaf: an oil spot.
Then it may develop further so that the fungus is clearly visible on the under surface as a white mould.
A curative systemic spray needs to be put out at this time, even though only a small section of the vineyard is affected. The fungal spores can spread very quickly though the rest of the vineyard given the right conditions.
Within the week we see good results.
It is disappointing to have to resort to systemic sprays but we are hopeful that this will become unnecessary as we emerge from our transition period into full biodynamic practice.
The first of our open weekends was this weekend and we have been busy sorting, tidying, labeling, mowing and generally rushing about. I have decided it is like having a whole lot of friends for dinner as it makes you do all those tidying jobs that you never seem to get around to doing otherwise!
The weather was perfect and it was lovely to catch up on news and let people enjoy getting out of town for the day.
Best wishes to all,