Our June focus is on the magic of compost and the important (and very satisfying) task of disbudding.
We usually spread our recycled compost underneath the vines in the spring. Each vine gets approximately 25 kg around its base, which amounts to a layer about 10cm or 4 inches thick.
The compost plays multiple roles - during the first year after spreading, there is a slow release of nutrients from the compost and a beneficial suppression of annual weed seed germination. In the second year, nitrogen take-up by the vines combined with increased soil micro bio activity gives a boost to vegetative growth and overall vine health. In the third year, what’s left of the compost on the surface will be incorporated into the soil with our mechanical cultivator. We aim is to apply compost to a quarter of the vineyard each year.
As well as muck spreading, late spring and summer is also the time for disbudding - when we remove erroneous buds from the vines. Disbudding helps with canopy management as there are less canes crowding the space and makes pruning easier and healthier for the vine as less cuts are needed. We're currently crown thinning (removing the canes growing up from the central portion of the vine allowing for better ripening and aeration) so that we maintain good balance, and when we come to prune in the winter, we'll have a strong and well-placed selection of new canes for next year's fruit to grow from. With an average lifespan of 50 years, we always need to consider the health of the vine well into the future.