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|
I'm not sure how much time I spend in the garden? It varies so much. Heaps this summer watering - nearly every day for up to an hour. I try to do a little bit every day and only have a fairly small area to manage.
It was my pride and joy, so you can imagine my amazement when I sold my farm and found the new owner had it destroyed.
Continued success to you!