Pruning grapevines

These past few days we’ve been spending a lot of time with the grapevines. The vines were planted as cuttings, with several cuttings set in one hole and the hope that maybe one would take. We’re finding that, in most cases, 4 or 5 vines took. Really well.  Wire cages were put in probably in some efforts to keep the plants growing upwards. They grew upwards, and then spilled out and over the sides, they wound round and round, and through, and in between. With the ground still frozen, we can’t pull the cages out completely. But we can “unzip” them enough to reach in and start trimming.

We’re being very severe with these vines. More severe than either of us is comfortable with. We keep reassuring ourselves that this is what’s best. We’re cultivating a healthier, more sustainable vineyard. Maybe crop yields will be lower this year, but they will beef up the following year. There is much deliberation over which to keep and which to cut. Lot’s of back and forth: “Cut that one.” “No you cut that one.” “But it’s so strong and happy.” “Why can’t we keep them both?” “We can’t.” “Don’t be cruel, they like each other- look how they are all tangled.” “We have to do this.” “Fine, but I can’t watch.”

We’ll save cuttings with 2-4 buds for new plantings. If anyone would like some grapevines (Valliant, and Concord), we have a few.

 I’ve tried to take some before and after shots here to show the extremity of our grapevine situation.  There are five vines growing in the clump to the left. The little, lonesome vine on the right is all that’s left afterwards. Conjures images of riot police dispersing protesters, Viking raids, Nurse Ratched, buzz cuts – all things cruel and unjust… doesn’t it?

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