Irrigation

After busy season, I went out of town to Dallas for my cousin’s grandfather’s 90th birthday. When I got back, Joe had done all the irrigation. It was amazing. He dug all the trenches and installed all the piping. He did it all by himself, so I do not know anything about the piping or tools he used.

Go Joe! Go!

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Planted

The vines are planted! The vines are planted!

Thanks to the help of some wonderful friends and family we got 47 vines planted this weekend. The planting went really well. We had one set of two guys running the single person post-hole digger (which had a good bit and worked wonderfully this time). We then had two teams of two people planting the vines, and finally one person with a bucket going around and watering the new plantings with a mixture of H2O and vitamin B12.

The B12 is important. You are supposed to let the dormant vines soak in a combination of water and B12 for 12 to 24 hours prior to planting. This wakes up the dormant plants. Once the vines are in the ground, you add the same mixture to help them establish themselves.

We used two person planting teams because there is more to getting the vines in the ground then just sticking the plant in the hole and covering it with dirt. Once the plant is in the hole, you need to add a little dirt and tap that down. Then you pull up on the plant slightly, allowing the roots to straighten; and while one person holds the plant slightly lifted, the other adds the rest of the dirt and taps it down again.

Once the plants were in the ground, we covered each one in a blue grow tube. It might not look too pretty, but the tubes should protect the plants from critters and should amplify blue light which increases beneficial photosynthetically active radiation.

My only regret from the whole day was that I did not get a group photo of all the wonderful people who helped out. It would be nice to have a picture of all the people who helped out. Even though I do not have a group picture, here are a few photos taken throughout the day.

Planting This Saturday

The vines are here! Two bags arrived this afternoon. When I ordered 50 grape vines, I expected some giant shipment. Not so. Only got two small bags each filled with 25 vines.

Tomorrow is planting day. I have suckered a number of my family and friends to come help me out. Hopefully we can get all 46 planted along the rows. The rest will be planted along the fence, but that might not happen for a little while.

This is what got delivered today. I am so excited to plant these suckers into the ground!

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Vines!

As a blog designed to document my travels, this is going terribly. I will post about my wonderful trip to Hawaii soon, I promise.

As a blog documenting my attempt to plant a mini vineyard in my back yard, this blog is going swimmingly.

Last weekend Joe & I took a 1 day course on starting your own vineyard hosted by Tom of the Thomas Kruse Winery in Gilroy. It was a great class and we learned so much. My only regret is that I did not know of this class last year when we started this whole endeavor. I would have done several things differently, including possibly choosing a different support structure for my trellising. My wooden posts will still work fine, but Tom recommend a metal structure system that seems a little better. Also, it might make better use of the light in my back yard. I still like my system and I do not regret going with the wooden posts.

The two most useful  bits of knowledge I got from the class was 1. how to properly plant a 1-year old grapevine that you get from a nursery and 2. how to train and prune the vines. I have been very worried about the pruning of the vines. Grapes only grow from 1 year old wood, so you have to be very careful about the pruning of the vines in order to ensure that you get good quality and quantity fruit.

After taking this course, Joe & I feel so much more confident about our future vineyard than we did the day before. In fact, we are feeling so good that we went ahead and ordered our vines for delivery. The vines will be arriving Thursday, March 13th. Since the fear of frost is over, ends about Feb 15th in our area, we are going to plant the vines that Saturday and Sunday. We will be renting a post hole digger and calling on the kindness of friends and family to come help us plant. I am so excited I can hardly keep from jumping all around. Yay vines!!

Vineyard #7

Cross another thing off the To Do List; the holes are dug and the poles are in the ground!!! This weekend Joe & I spent Saturday digging the remainder of the post holes that we were unable to get to last weekend.

This time we rented the two person auger. It was so much better than the single person auger. The machine is way more powerful and the bit on this one was different than last weeks, so it actually cut into the ground. After using the one today, I am convinced that the bit we got last week was faulty. Either way, if I ever have to dig more post holes I am only renting the two person auger not the single person auger.

Joe and I had trouble getting the auger initially. My car is in the shop so I have been driving Katy’s. We took her car to the local rental place but they didn’t have a two person auger. They called around and the Campbell location had one so we drove down there. We got the auger and signed the paper work and the guy told us how to use the machine, but when we tried to load it into the car, it didn’t fit. Frustrated, we checked the internet and it said that the car shop opened at noon. Believing I could get my car at noon, we drove from Campbell to Palo Alto (takes about 40 minutes). We got to PA right before noon and no one was there. We waited and waited but no one ever showed up. After an annoyingly long time I needed to pee, so we to my parents house a few blocks away. There I commandeered my dad’s SUV. We then drove back to Campbell, finally got the auger and made it home. In all, it took 3.5 hours to get and damn machine. I was starting to worry because last week the post hole drilling took so long, but this machine was so much better that we got just as many holes done in half the time! Woo Hoo!!

A special thanks needs to go out to my dad. He showed up and was a huge help. My dad and I took turns running the auger with Joe, while the free person dug out extra dirt by hand, moved around the trash can that we were using to stand the auger against, etc. Dad was a great help and the three of us were able to get it all done quickly and easily. Thanks Pop!

We rented the auger for 24 hours, and since we only go it around 1 on Saturday, we had all Sunday morning to do a little clean up. Sunday we took twine and strung it along all the rows in the back yard. This allowed us to see in the rows were straight and if any of the posts were out of alignment. It was good we did this because there were several posts that needed adjusting. Joe and I tried to adjust the holes manually with shovels first, but that was not really effective, so in the end we used the auger to adjust the holes as needed. We had residual soreness from Saturday, so the work Sunday seemed a lot harder, but we got ‘er done.

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Sailing & Vineyard #6

Over the weekend I went sailing for the first time. It was me, Joe and Joe’s mother. I had never been sailing before, so I was really looking forward to this. Turns out, I HATE sailing. Sailing involves a number of the things I loath: being cold, being wet, and having wind blow on you.

I tried to keep my whining to a minimum, so that Joe’s mother did not think I was a bitchy, whiny cow; but it was really hard. I was freezing the entire time. I was worried about being cold so I brought along a whole lot of layers, but they did not help. The wind just blew right through them all. The boat we went on is considered a U.S. National Park (don’t ask me how a boat can be a park), and it has no inside section where you can get away from the wind and NO bathroom. What kind of dumb boat tour expects people to be cool with being on a boat for 4 hours with no way to get out the wind and no way to pee/vomit in private.

I just looked it up. The boat we went on was the Alma, and tours cost $40. It might be fun if you are into sailing, but a better (and cheaper) trip is just to get on the ferry that goes around the bay. There are several ferries but the one I really like I believe is called the Golden Gate Ferry. You get to see the same views, you have the option to get off and walk around cute little bay towns, AND there is a nice bar with great bloody marys. Yum.

 

Sailing was Saturday. On Sunday Joe and I did more work on the vineyard. We rented an auger and started drilling the holes for the posts. We bought 8 foot wooden posts. We needed to dig 2 foot holes, so that 6 feet would be above ground and 2 feet below. We rented a single person auger, hoping that would make digging the holes easy. We had seen YouTube videos where people easily dug 2 foot holes using the single person auger. I don’t know if we were doing something wrong, my ground is too hard, or if our auger just sucked, but it did not work well.

The auger would dig through the first several inches of loose top soil easily, but then it would spin around worthlessly. It seemed like the ramp section was set too high, and it would not catch the soil, so the drill portion would just spin around on it’s tip on top of the soil and not actually lift any soil up/dig down. We reviewed some of the YouTube videos, and on the videos the little ramp portion appeared longer and lower, so I really believe our auger just sucked.

Joe and I were determined to get something accomplished, so we struggled with our crap auger and, after a full day of working, got the outside post holes dug. It was so satisfying when we finished the last hole and got to see all the posts standing in place. Near the end I was stupid and too tired to control the power tools and ended up hurting myself. I lost control of the auger and ended up whacking my left shin & knee several times. It is currently swollen and I expect to have an epic bruise in a few days.

We still have the inside posts to do. We hope to get those done next weekend, and we plan to rent the two person auger. I have no idea if the two person one will work better, but it can not be any worse.

#homevineyard

 

Vineyard #5

Over the weekend we re-did the marking out for the vineyard posts. We originally used landscape flags to mark out where we wanted the posts to go, but my naughty puppy figured out that it was fun to rip the flags out of the ground. This time we redid the markings with wooded stakes. These are heavier and get planted further into the ground, so hopefully she will not be able to rip them all out.

For figuring out how to mark out the posts, we determined that it was easiest to determine where the corner posts go, and then work backwards to figure out the placing of everything else. We are doing a 6 by 6 arrangement, 6 feet between rows and 6 feet between vines. Our lot is not quite perfectly North-South aligned, so our rows are running at about a 105 degree angle rather than perfectly 90. I actually prefer this, as I think it is more aesthetically pleasing.

Next weekend we are going to rent an auger to dig the post holes. Hopefully that goes smoothly and we can get all the posts in the ground. After that comes the landscape fabric mulching. I am not looking forward to that part. I did the mulching once several years ago. It was extremely hard work and because I did not use landscape fabric, it did almost nothing against my weeds. This time I should have more help, which will make the job go faster, but I am still bitter about the last time being so un-successful. I am also getting the most heavy duty landscape fabric I can find so that the weeds hopefully never return.

#homevineyard

Vineyard #4

This weekend I bought the wood for the trellising and Joe and I started to prep it. We purchased 12 4x4s, 11 ’8 round posts and 3 2x4s. All the wood is pressure treated but we still need to treat any part that will be in the ground with sealant. Pressure treated wood with sealant should make for trellising that will last about 20 years. We are in this for the long haul.

We got the wood from Home Depot. We purchased from Home Depot because the prices were in line with the other stores we price checked, but Home Depot has the added benefit of having trucks you can rent for 75 minutes for only $20. Since the boards are all 8 feet long and would not fit in our cars, the ability to rent the truck was a big plus.

After we got the wood home and the truck returned, we went to the local pub for some lunch and football watching. The Cowboys were in true form yesterday and managed to blow an 11 point lead. After the game we returned home and painted on the first coat of sealant. We are using Bear Paint deck sealant. There are many different kinds of deck sealant, and I did not know which to choose, so I went with the one that said it lasts the longest. We have to seal all parts of the posts that will be in the ground. This should help keep the wood dry and delay rotting.

The first coat of sealant is now on the wood. Will will likely do one or two more coats before we put the stakes in the ground. Before we can plant the stakes, we need to till one more time and auger holes. After the stakes are in place, we can order the landscape fabric and mulch.

Here are some pictures of us prepping the wood.

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#homevineyard

Vineyard #3

The vines are ordered! The total cost is only $306. 25 Syrah and 25 Cab. I paid a deposit of half of that and pay the rest 72 hours after the vines have been delivered. I am very pleased with the price. I saw vines for about $10 a vine at a lot of places, so $6 is almost half that. Woot!

It is busy season and I am going to be busy this weekend, so I doubt I will get a lot done on the yard. I did find out about a local nursery that is going out of business this weekend, and they are having a 40% off everything sale. I am hoping to get over to that sale this weekend to see if they have landscape fabric or anything else I can use.

The next big steps are re-tilling the land and buying the wood for trellising from Home Depot.

I am so excited for my future #homevineyard.