Using permaculture ethics & design principles to transform an old energy guzzling bungalow into a showcase of sustainable design. It's about energy cycling, building community, self-reliance,creatively using & reusing materials... all without spending heaps of money.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bumper grape harvest

Principle 9: Use small and slow solutions

My mate Brian gave me a grape cutting that he'd nurtured as a house warming gift not long after we moved in. Two and a half years later we got our first harvest, 9.2kg for the season - not bad... and they were superb!

Seedless grapes on a two and half year old vine
Fortunately we didn't need to harvest all of the grapes at once, as they weren't all ready at the same time. By planting the vine along the laneway on the east side of the block, near the water tank / cellar / carport, different parts of the vine were shaded at different times - which (I think) helped distribute the harvest time. Still, there were times when there were more ready than we could eat, so we gave some away and decided to dry the rest in our solar dehydrator.

Grapes picked off the bunch and spread  into an old seedling tray, then stacked in our solar dryer.
I first tried an experiment of drying some grapes on the bunch and some off. The ones on the bunch took longer to dry and were challenging to remove from the fragile stalk (once dried). I felt that removing them from the stalk before drying was a better way to go.

Picking the grapes off the bunch takes time, but is quite a relaxing job and something that the kids could help with. About 500 grams worth fitted into one of our old seedling trays. During the hot weather we've been having it still took about a week for them to dry out. The dried weight was about 100 grams - we do this for love, not money. The whole process has given us a lot more respect for how much good food is really worth - and the end products is delicious. A great addition to our porridge over winter - if they last that long.

After a week or so in the solar dryer we get sultanas, about one fifth of the fresh weight

Blog Archive