The Plumpton Patch

Sunny. 21C. THIS was the day to be working in an English vineyard. Except the sweaty bit in the tractor.

I worked at the small (0.3ha) Plumpton College (on site) vineyard today, though only for the morning. I spent the first hour mowing – not the first time, but the first time I’ve done a decent stretch. It was pretty straight forward once I’d remembered the order of things: clutch, gears, make sure PTO is disengaged, select PTO speed, engage PTO, use hand throttle to 540rpm (mower is loud when it’s going), then start heading down the row with no use of the accelerator (in the Fendt I used tortoise, medium, 2, which is fairly sedate) remembering to put the position lever down at the right time to get the mower into action. The hydraulics allow the mower to be moved left and right, which is very handy when the turf and weeds extends under the GDC trellising. Oh, what was interesting when we had initially set up and attached the mower to the 3-point linkage, we lowered it to the ground and then adjusted the top-link such that the front edge of the mower was about 5cm above the ground – not doing this results in the mower scalping the turf, apparently. So, between me and the others all turf, weeds and prunings are mowed and mulched.

After the mowing I joined the others for various trellis repair work. No pictures, sorry. It was the normal sort of stuff: checking for broken posts and removing them and all their nails, lugging new ones around,  knocking them in with the hand-torpedo and reattaching nails for the fruiting and foliage wires. All straight forward, and the posts when in easily since they were quite slim.

The vines were really in full bud. I did not see any budburst, but there was probably some somewhere. Certainly at the Rock Lodge vineyard site there’s some budburst going on at present, particularly in the sheltered areas, and in some of the younger Ortega vines. But I missed all this to bunk off in the afternoon to head to the library to do some work: it’s the last few days before the Easter break and the rest of the week is stuffed with assessment hand-ins, presentations and exams. Fun, fun, fun. I’d rather be in an English vineyard.

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