Oh, I was so excited to see tiny flower heads on the grape vines.
As I’m not very familiar with growing grapes, and thinking I might have to thin the flowers somewhat, I consulted the RHS and discovered that I have to remove ALL the flowers as the vines are young. No grapes this year.
Ah well, plenty of other good things coming through. The broad beans are flowering in the polytunnel…
and the first spears of asparagus have appeared, so I shall console myself with a soft boiled egg and asparagus soldiers tomorrow.
The lovely OH is hard at work handweeding the main vegetable growing area and we even managed to squeeze in harvesting some young nettles for soup before the leaves become too tough…
The recipe was one from River Cottage.
Reading this week: Kew on a Plate by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew & Raymond Blanc
I love wrens, Troglodytes troglodytes – they’re such punchy little birds, completely fearless – and so loud. I got quite close to this one on my way to and from the polytunnel. He/she completely ignored me.
This post is a little bit of a round up on progress in the tunnel. The produce is coming along in leaps and bounds. Without the tunnel, we would not be able to have such treats as:
Melons. Both the cantaloupe and watermelon are setting fruit now.
Chillies. These have done so well this year. I planted out into 10L pots and the display is fabulous. This is a growing approach that I will definitely repeat next year. All they need is a weekly high potash feed.
Grapes. The vine survived its move from outdoors to in and we added another 2 dessert grapes for good measure. We don’t expect any fruit this year, (well I might leave one bunch on), but we look forward to delicious crops in a few year’s time.
Tomatoes. Nothing compares to a ripe tomato, freshly picked and warm from the heat of the tunnel. I don’t grow tomatoes outdoors anymore because of blight. Growing undercover means that we can reliably produce a decent crop of the heritage varieties we prefer.
We also have cucumbers, sweet peppers and aubergines to look forward to.
Outside, we have started to lift the garlic, the onions and shallots have bulked up nicely and we are picking peas, french beans, chard
and tiny courgettes; the latter destined for our favourite summer pasta dish.
And of course….lots and lots of sweet peas.
Though it is still a bit mild, the leaves have dropped from the grape so I decided that now is the time to crack on with moving it to the polytunnel. As the sap of a grapevine starts to flow very early in the spring I didn’t want to leave pruning back until later because there is a risk of weakening the plant from sap bleeding from the cuts.
Everything was pruned back to a single cane, which I shortened. We lifted the vine trying to conserve as much of the root system as possible and placed the it in a large trug of water.
The lovely OH dug a hole about twice the size of the rootball outside the far end of the polytunnel. We added a substantial layer of grit in the bottom of the planting hole. The vine was fed through to the inside of the tunnel, tied in to a cane and the hole backfilled.
Grapes grown ‘indoors’ benefit from having their roots outside where it is cooler, and have access to more water, (rain water), though we may get a lower yield because it will be more difficult to restrict the root run.
Of course this is what we are hoping for in a few years!
This summer a Japanese chef paid 1 million yen, (around £5200), for a bunch of 26 grapes. I have to say the fruit does look lovely.
The Ruby Roman grape is grown exclusively in Ishikawa. The variety was bred about 14 years ago and the fruit first went on sale in 2008. An extraordinary level of care is lavished on every single grape in the bunch with strict controls on size, weight and sugar content.
Here on the holding we have a muscat grapevine that I bought a few years back for a couple of quid. The muscat variety is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, known named grape. I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t lavished any care on the vine, let alone the grapes, and it shows.
In fact I was amazed to see that the vine did have a few bunches.
The woeful neglect is due to ignorance on my part – I just haven’t, as yet, got to grips with pruning a grape vine. So this winter the muscat will be cut back hard, lifted and replanted next to the polytunnel. The roots will be placed outside the tunnel and the vine trained, according to the rod and spur system, inside. Whilst I don’t think the growers of Ishikawa will lose any sleep over the quality of our grapes, I’m hoping for a bigger, sweeter harvest going forward.