I have been working on this update for a few weeks now and as you local folks know, the weather has alternated from snow on the ground to mud, from snowflakes to rain, from brisk wind to balmy-like spring air within a matter of days, like it seems to have done all winter! Many of you have been asking about this unusual mild winter and if the crops are okay. We are watching things very closely and so far do not see any signs of winter damage, but certainly our fruit trees, vines and other perennials like blueberries and strawberries are pretty confused about what they should be doing.
How long before you can make a BLT? We have 900 tomato plants thriving in the greenhouse which we planted mid February. We hope that means we’ll have tomatoes for you late April or May. I have to admit on some of the real winter days it’s been great to work in the tropical-like atmosphere of the greenhouse. It’s a great place to sneak away with a book, as long as no one discovers you!
Grape pruning: In January, we finished trimming our 100 acres of grapes, a big thank you to the crew that worked a solid two months on this. Now the crew is going back through the vineyards tying the vines to the trellis system. The annual grape pruning is the longest job we have here on the farm (and you thought we were just taking it easy this winter!!)
You are never too old to learn…during the slower paced days of winter, we try to stay current with the ever changing world of agriculture. Last month I attended a 2 day seminar at MSU which reinforced good horticulture practices, provided some new information on various fruits and vegetables, and gave me the incentive to try growing a few new things this year. (It’s a secret until they are planted and growing!)
Earlier this year, my son Jay and I got involved with the Grape-A system certification, which is a structured approach to ensuring viable viticulture and environmental sustainability for our grape vineyards. As we move forward to achieve this certification level for our farm, this means you can rest assured that we are doing all of the “right things” possible to ensure that our vineyards produce good quality grapes while ensuring that the land is taken care of as well.
Last, I have started working on a viticulture degree, (the study of vines.) I am attending classes weekly plus doing “hands-on” apprenticeship work under the mentorship of an area viticulturist. I am really enjoying learning the scientific aspects of what takes to grow grapes. I know this is going to help me better identify problems as they occur and prevent them in our vineyards. Plus, for those of you who come to the market asking questions about caring for your own grapevines, I’ll be better equipped. So, that “good book” I am reading when I sneak away to the greenhouse is actually one of the textbooks!
With the “real” spring quickly upon us, we are already picking up the pace to finish our winter pruning jobs so we can begin the spring planting. We hope you have had a good winter and we look forward to seeing you in a few months when we will have plants, asparagus and hopefully our greenhouse tomatoes for sale!