Archive for the ‘Garden & Allotment’ Category

Pruning technique for a mature “vertical cane positioning” trained (guyot) vine

Prune every other cane back to the basal buds- these will become next years ‘renewal spurs’. The remaining canes, prune to 5 buds- these will be next years ‘fruiting spurs’ (you’ll prune these a little more later..)


1.Weigh the vine’s pruned material.

2.Prune next years fruiting spurs so that you keep 20 buds per plant plus 10 buds per pound of pruned material. Each fruiting spur should have 3-5 buds and each renewal spur should have 2 basal buds. There’s an equal quantity of renewal and fruit spurs. Example: I remove 2 lb of year-old vertical canes, so I keep (20+ (2x 10)) 40 buds. I have 16 spurs per plant- 8 renewal & 8 fruiting. The renewal spurs account for (2×8)16 buds, leaving 24 buds to be divided between the fruiting spurs, which results in 3 buds per fruiting spur.

3.At bud break, snap off the weakest branch per spur, leaving one branch on the renewal spur and x-1 branches on the fruiting spur, where x= the number of buds per fruiting spur as calculated in (2) above

Alternative, simplified version:
cut the fruiting canes out totally, down to the swollen base at the bottom of the stem. Cut the renewal stems back to 3 inches to create the new spurs. Next year, allow two uprights to grow from each spur, pinch out the lower, weaker ones. Allow each fruiting cane to crop one bunch only. As the vine matures, if the growth is very vigorous you can allow more than two bunches per spur.

4.As soon as possible after bud burst, rub-out the flower clusters from the renewal cane to stop this cane from fruiting.

5.Summer pruning: each bunch of grapes needs about 15 leaves to ripen- any more and you shade your fruit, limiting its sugar content. Any less and you weaken the vine. At 4inches between each leaf, this works out roughly at 50cm of cane per bunch of grapes on a fruiting spur (based on the inclusion of leaf canopy on the renewal spur). Once the canopy reaches this height, trim it. Also trim the side branches that may grow.
So if you allow 2 bunches per spur, trim the canopy to 1m above the old wood.

6.In late summer, take off the big leaves at the bottom of the fruiting canes to allow sunlight and air to get at the fruit- all leaves below the fruit and 2 leaves above the fruit is recommended.

7.The following winter, cut this years fruiting spur down to 2 basal buds (at the very bottom of the stem, where it joins the old wood), and leave 5 buds on what was the renewal spur canes. These become next years fruit spurs.


Softwood propagation of vines

• Make green cuttings from any vigorously growing shoot.
• Avoid shoots that have stopped growing and are starting to harden off and turn brown.
• Take cuttings as early as possible in the spring
• Cuttings should be 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) long, with two or three leaves.
• Remove all but the top leaf and cut that one in half if it is full size, but leave it alone if it is a young, undersized leaf .
• Dip the green cutting in a paste of rooting hormone
• Use a 3:1 perlite / potting compost mix
• Plant into a black plastic pot to encourage warmth in the root zone and cover with a clear plastic lid to maintain humidity .
• Spray regularly to keep up the humidity until healthy new growth appears, then start to remove plastic bag.

This summer, I took some softwood cuttings from my vines.

First up, I tried a test cutting with madeleine angevine roughly using the above technique. The cutting was about 8 inches long, from the growth tip of a new green shoot. I stripped all but a couple of small leaves. It worked, but was quite slow. The weather was very hot,and the plant suffered a bit, but it was proof of concept. With hindsight, I think the loose compost doesnt work to well in the early stage of root formation, while the new cutting is forming an embolism. Well oxygenated water is good for this.

Then I tried a cutting from a vine in a local park. I’ve had my eye on this vine for a few years- very ornamental leaves. I’ve never seen it fruit, however, probably because the park keepers hack it right down to the ground in late summer each year, so the poor thing never develops enough stored energy. I also never get to take a hardwood cutting. So I took a green wood stem cutting (8 inch, most leaves removed, base of cutting just below a leaf, slightly scratched) and plonked it straight into plastic milk bottle filled with rain water. This worked well- possibly faster than in the soil. The cutting now has roots and is potted up in perlite rich compost similar to the cutting compost above, and is sending out new growth.

Finally, I tried 3 air layered cuttings on the red wine variety “Rondo”. A leaf was taken from the stem about 8 inches from the growth tip, the area around the leaf scratched, and a pad of moist vermiculite rapped around the leaf scar, held in place by a few layers of clingfilm and then aluminum foil. A few week later, I took off the raps and didnt notice any roots, but did notice that the stems appeared rougher textured where the vermiculite had been. I then cut the stems from the plant and put them into a milk bottle of rain water. They’d carried on growing, so what was an 8″ cutting was now 16″, so I cut each in half, one having the previous air-layered bit, one without. They were all put into rain water to root. The 3 stems that had previously been air-layered showed massive embolism very quickly. The other stems showed less embolism, and later, but also rooted.

All the above green wood cloning were done early in the the season.

Useful Fencing and Hedging links

The British Trust For Conservation Volunteers provide online handbooks on, amongst other things:

hedging including how to lay Midland, Welsh and South-Western hedges)
Dry Stone Walling
Woodland management (including coppicing, greenwood working, and charcoal making)
Wetlands & Waterways