Monday, April 6, 2009

Free Range Grapes

It's a shame I probably won't be staying here at Dog's Plot long enough to see pears on Davey's grafted trees, Dog help him . But I've got an idea for another project: a project which might even bear fruit before I ship out.
And this time, I'm going to do it myself.

I'm no student of wine, but I can drink a jug of it now and then, and one of the first things I learned from Alan Pike ....and which any beginning student of wine history also knows..... is that when the native European vines developed a root blight back in the twentieth century, it was found that the New World vines were resistant to the disease. So our New World root stocks were exported to Europe for the Chablais and the Chardonadys and all that to be grafted onto. Now, by virtue of these roots, French Champagne is as American as Jerry Lewis.

You know where I'm going with this: I am going to graft cultivated varieties onto the wild grapes.
It should be even easier than the pear grafting. All I'll need is the machete to split the stock, cuttings from the survivors among the half dozen vines Davey redundantly planted a couple of years ago, and to seal the grafts, some tar from one of his abandoned cans behind the trailer.
I'm pretty sure that I get better results than the one-in-four success rate Davey got by doing it in too early spring , when he got prematurely excited about the reproductive process. I can hold the enthusiasm until things are really growing and no frosts are expected.

I won't have to plant, I won't have to water, the vines I graft onto will already be well established, and I won't have to support or prune or cage them. I'll graft above the reach of deer and rabbits, and just let them go right back up the trees they are based on.
I know from the heavy-bearing, never-pruned old vine that wrapped around the south west corner of the house at Edgewood Place, that a single vine can occupy as much space as half a dozen are allowed in a vineyard, and even if it won't produce as much as six vines...a third of that will be fine. About a ton. If it hadn't been for the coons and possums which came into town to harvest them, the weight of the grapes alone would have brought the arbors down.
And anyway, it isn't as if I was going into business here, or had to pay for tractors, yard help, harvest crews, fences, nets,, and electronic protection, etc.. etc. etc. So there you go: Free Range Grapes.

Well, it's as cold as a witch's grapes today and I can't even push the chickens out of here.... but the season is close to the turning point, so I'll go out and cut some bud sticks off the chicken house vine today before they swell, then stick them in some baggies in Davey's fridge until the time is right.
And this afternoon I'll get back to grubbing out some more buckthorn stubs before Dangerous Dave finishes up his obsessive peening and whetting and comes a whacking with the brush scythe.

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