Once again, the long haul down from Germany to southern Australia, and from high summer to deepest winter…
In the vegetable garden, chaos.
The down-side of rich soils and the coming of the winter rains is the coming of the prolific growth of nettle seed, swamping all other crops. All my carefully planted onions have been submerged in my five week absence, and their rescue requires painful and careful weeding. Only just in time too – seedlings are severely weakened by this sort of shading.
The most frustrating aspect of these long plane flights is the jetlag; it has taken all of two weeks before I can function well enough to tackle the more difficult task of pruning almond trees and grapevines.
These young grapevines are essentially only a year old, having born their first ‘Isabella’ table grapes last summer before running riot. That chaos is apparent now that the leaves have fallen off; its time to train these youngsters onto the two-tier cordon wires and to strip away all those extra canes.
Reading books on how to prune things makes my head spin; the neat and tidy shapes found therein belies the utter confusion facing the gardener when confronted with real plants. So I’ve been pretty brutal this winter, and have chopped these young vines back hard to a double-T; from each trunk, one set left and right onto the lower cordon, and one set on the upper. Some of the long canes I retain but wrap them in another direction or at a different height. All the rest is cut off.
Fortunately, the winter days are short and I get off early to sit reading by the fireside. Now exactly what have I done with all those pruning books?