Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Our Vineyard Site

Our vineyard location presents a challenge. Since we already own land, we don’t have the luxury of shopping around for the best site. Our site is less than 10 feet above sea level, with a water table that comes up to 18 inches from the top of the ground in the winter. Less than 300 feet from the vineyard we have a virtual swamp, where water lays most of the year.

To counter the water, we have installed tile drainage under the entire vineyard. The site we picked is 4-5 feet higher than the surrounding ground, so we had the ability to put pipe down 4-5 feet and still have it drain above the pond water level. The tile drainage is 4-5 feet down, and will bring the ground water down to that level. A PVC pipe carries the water out to our nearby pond. The pipe was installed in May 2006, and water has run out continuously since then, even through the 6 week drought we experienced in July and August. This tells us that the investment was well worth it!

We planted Sudex as a cover crop in the summer, to add some organic matter to the ground, even though the ground already had decent organic matter from it’s many years in no-till corn, soybeans, and wheat. We did a nematode test and found no deadly nematodes in the sample. Based on our soil tests, we added lime in the fall and chisel plowed it to incorporate it deeper into the soil. We then planted our permanent vineyard ground cover. I debated what to use, and eventually decided on Kentucky 31 Tall Fescue. This is a very aggressive and competitive grass, but I picked it over a less competitive grass to try and mitigate the fertility and moisture in our soil.

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