Saturday, February 26, 2011

Learning about vineyards and nut trees for Plan Bee & bees

As we ponder what we want to put on Plan Bee for us and the bees, my queen bee thought a vineyard would be great. 

WE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT VINEYARDS.

The old expressions goes "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."  We aren't angels so I guess I know what that makes us.  My queen is a wide reading and researching machine and it wasn't long before we were members of the NC Muscadine Grape Association.  Yep, we looked on line and discovered that that a scant week away the NCMGA was holding a meeting at Gregory Vineyards and if we would get up early we could attend the all day event.  So we did.

Beeing Beekeepers we have discovered something interesting about people.  There are horse people, bee people, football people and grape people.  Some of the groups mingle well with others and well, some don't.  If you are a grape person and make wine, most everyone loves you except the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) people.

As we stood in the midst of grape people and thought oh goodie we have bees and surely every plant loving person on the planet felt the same, we were, how shall we say, educated. Grape people are not real fans of bee people as many of their grapes are hermaphrodites, they prefer the term self-polinating.  It also turns out that many grape people spray their grapes with a fungicide every two to six weeks.  Most spray an herbicide below the grapes to keep the grass and weeds down.

Pause--  So let's see.  We spray a grape friendly version of roundup underneath the grapes which is sucked up by the 2 - 6 " deep roots to the leaves, then to the grapes and finally to your glass of wine. Yum!

We also heard about all of the spraying done for insects except near harvest time and the chemical companies are actively working to reduce the window of time between spraying and harvesting.  More time, more spray.  Still liking those grapes?

Cute factoid about grapes -  They should be planted North South so as to maximize the sun on the fruit.
Cute factoid about bees - Hives should face Southeast so they would be roughly lined up with the grape rows/vineyard.

Muscadine grapes are native to the Carolinas and can require no spray depending on how your want to run your vineyard.  Our great Grape orientation will be to worry about bees first and grapes second.  Whatever grape juice/wine we eventually get will be "gravy" or is that grape juice.  Oh, well.

So we will plant our little north south rows of muscadine grapes with clover beneath them to keep the weeds down knowing that some of the vitality of the grapes will be sacrificed to the clover.  Our bees will enjoy the clover and the grape blossoms, we hope.  Sounds like we are creating bee heaven to me.


Above is the first layout proposed by our Land Planner, Brandon Price of Wildland Forestry.
Note that the little grape  vineyard is lined up with a Northwest/Southeast orientation.  In our next pass we will change the proposed layout to reflect our great grape knowledge.

Nuts - A Quick word on this before I end this post.  Turns out that trees like Pecans don't share well with other plants.  At a gardening class, I know we spend too much time in classes on this stuff, we learned that trees like pecans really diminish the growth of other plants underneath them.  It is unwise to use their leaves when composting because of the chemical in the leaves.  When we plant our pecan trees, which have a 30' reach, we will plant them where we don't want anything else to grow.

Sure hope my bees like all of the trouble my wife and I are going through to provide them a nice place to live.

Final thought,


WE KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT VINEYARDS
& NUTS NOW