Recovering vines and a dusty bicycle

A vine with battle scars

A vine with battle scars

After a short bike ride on a sultry evening it’s time for an update on the vineyard.   Two rows of grape vines won “official” status by gaining their own trellis wires, and two more short rows are ready to make this step next year.  Frequent spraying apparently left a discouraging taint on the vines since by mid-July the beetles were mostly feeding on nearby weeds and more distant wild grape vines.  The new leaves that emerge after the onslaught of beetle savagery are always small and pale, but vine growth has resumed.  A nearby organic gardner blogged that the thumb and forefinger pinch of their well-gloved hand was the favorite weapon in the bug battle.   I felt overwhelmed by the number of targets and resorted to a pump sprayer and non-organic “perfumes”.

Growth on the new trellis

Growth on the new trellis

So cautious optimism is the tone for the outcome of this year’s war on the beetle and also for my long-delayed return to a touring bicycle.  Wiping the dust off the neglected bike was prompted by the sale of a well-loved motorcycle, hanging its gloves and helmet on the “used to do this” hooks in the garage.  Now 2-wheeled cruises down the country road and the circle home will be shorter, leisurely, and provoke less anxiety from loved ones.  A once-fantasized solo tour of Michigan by motorcycle has been forgotten before it was planned, but cycling opportunities from various campgrounds can substitute so long as there’s air in the wheels and wind on the road.

Celebrating green in midSummer

IMG_0984This Summer the Bluecircle is washed with green.  There is impressive new growth on almost all of the pines that survived the drought of ’12, and on a few hundred Scotch pine replacements.  It is almost lost in the rapidly rising tide of ragweed, wild grape and even poison ivy – wherever it has escaped the mower.  The Japanese beetles, brown with a little green, have emerged to challenge the upwards growth of the cultivated grapes.  Ironically, these guests with no natural predators seem prefer wine grapes and roses over the wild varieties.  Overnight new leaves and blossoms were lost and it was time to break out the pesticides.

The grasses have already produced seed and now mostly subside, growing dryer by the day.  Random sunflowers seeded here and by the birds and rodents are weedlike but will evade culling if they lie within the rows of pines or infant oaks.   So far, regular rains have improved the appearance of essentially everything on the Bluecircle.