I had a phone call this morning from a gentleman who was looking for advice on what to do with the vines on his allotment. (Actually, I have to gloat just a little here – he found us a result of our very spectacular front page colour photograph in this week’s Guardian Newspaper – that’s the Wimbledon Guardian, not the national…yet. Interested in seeing it? Drop onto our social media sites here>
Back to the vines… our conversation revolved around whether to cut back the foliage at this critical time of year. And if so, by how much?
It did get me thinking that with a warm winter and great summer (let’s ignore much of August), even England (normally quite late to pick) could be gearing up for a slightly earlier harvest.
So, for all you folks lucky enough to own a vine, here are the critical points to think about :
- taste, taste, taste – simple enough, but very important. The grapes must have ripeness, ie natural sweetness. If they are green, leave them on the vine and hopefully they will come round
- foliage – after some rain in August, the forecast in the south is pretty good now. Cut back excess foliage and ensure the grapes are warmed (not burnt) by the sun. Important they should dry out after rain, or they’ll attract unwelcome rot
- triage (selection) – look for unripe bunches (ie those that really haven’t sprung into action), cut them away – they are no good. Bunches should be even, fat and healthy.
- black grapes – break the skins and check for colour pigment. Ideally you want plenty!
- talk to the vines! Well, why not!
That’s it for now. I’ll be back later in the week once I’ve looked for myself at the progress of local vines.