Four Arm Kniffin System for Growing Grapes
David Handley: I'm David Handley, vegetableand small fruit specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Today we'regoing to be talking about a simple system for pruning hardy grapes here in Maine. The pruning system I like to use is very simple.It keeps the plant open, so it gets light in the summer time, but it also protects theplant a little bit in the winter. This system works best with concord type or labrusca typegrapes, which are the grapes that tend to grow best in Maine. There's really a couple of systems that willwork well for labrusca type grapes. The first
one I want to talk about is the four arm kniffin,and that's what we're going to prune first. The four arm kniffin consists of a perennialtrunk, which goes from the ground right up to a top wire, which is set at about fivefeet. Coming off of this trunk, we will have four arms, or canes, oneyear old growth.Two on the top wire, running each side of the top wire, and two on a lower wire. Thislower wire should be set at about two and a half feet off the ground. Every year, we're going to come in and pruneit so we continue to have a perennial trunk, but only four one yearold trunks to producethe fruit.
Here is our permanent trunk. You can see here,this is a cane from last year. Two yearold cane, this was our fruiting cane last summer,and you can see the difference. Here's this year's cane, that nice chocolate brown colorand smooth bark, and here we go with the older cane, the two yearold cane. The bark is startingto peel, and has more of a gray look to it, so we know that this particular shoot isn'tgoing to fruit again. It's the one yearold shoots that come off it that will fruit. This is going to get pruned out, so that wecan keep our fruiting wood closer to the trunk. We'll just take that back to a good fruitingshoot, and we'll start to cut it out. This
is where it gets fun. We need to wrestle thisout of the trellis, and of course, all these little tendrils have tied it up and aroundmost of the growth that's there. It takes a little bit of cutting, but be careful notto break the fruiting canes that you want to leave behind. Pull it off, and that will open the plantingup so we can see what we have left for good fruiting wood for this year. We've taken offthe four fruiting canes that we left last year, and you can see pretty much all that'sleft, at this point, is the green shoots from last year, that will provide us with goodfruit for this year.
Now we need to choose which four we want toput up. We're going to have four canes. One, two, three, four. Two for the lower wire,two for the upper wire, each heading off in different directions. What I want to look for in this case is canethat's got this nice chocolate brown color, and is about 38 of an inch in diameter. Aboutthe width of your little finger. If it's thinner than that, if it's very weak, it won't producegood fruit. Thin stuff like this, less than 38 of an inch in diameter, we'll just cutthat right out. Here we've got one that's going to go in thisdirection, that looks very nice. I'm going
to count, remember we want about 10 buds onit, so we'll count our buds. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. ThenI just cut out beyond that, because the weaker stuff at the very end isn't going to producevery good fruit. I have my four arms, but you can see I stillhave some leftover canes. What I'm going to use these for are what we call quot;renewal spurs.quot;I'm going to cut these back so that they just have one or two buds on them. What I'm goingto use these buds for, the green shoots that will emerge from these buds and grow out,will be the canes that I'll be putting on the wire next year for fruiting. We call thesequot;renewal spurs.quot;
Grape Hyacinth Muscari armeniacum How to grow Grape Hyacinth
I love a patch of Grape Hyacinths. You cansee that they get their name from the color in the clusters of flowers on the little spikes.Actually the tops of these have been a little frost blasted, but they are still a wonderfuldisplay. Muscari armeniacum is the botanical name for this particular type of Grape Hyacinth.There are other species as well. There are some that give you a larger bloom, some tingedwith white, some are even in the hotter color frames, the pinks and the reds, yellows andorange. We may have one blooming down below. It is a Fall planted bulb. Plant these inthe Fall like you would a Crocus or a Daffodil and then what happens is it spends the Winterdormant and it comes up in early Spring and
gives you this great display of dark blueto purple flowers. Then after the flowers have died back the foliage still hangs around,it's continuing to gather nutrients and send sugars to the root bulb for flowering nextyear, to get it through the long Winter and for it to flower next year. I have some Muscarihere at the garden that are almost evergreen. Their leaves stayed around all Winter long.This is not one of them. This actually came up this Spring. The honey bees are workingit, it's fragrant. Its a wonderful, wonderful eyecatching contrast to the yellows and thewarmer colors of the Daffodils next to it. Muscari Grape Hyacinth are a carefree, veryeasily grown Spring bulb. Again, you plant
them in the Fall. No problem coming up. Youdo want to avoid wet, swampy soils and other than that, you're good to go. Not many thingswill mess with the Grape Hyacinth. I suppose that moles and voles may be a problem in someareas, but I haven't even had squirrels mess with ours. Muscari armeniacum.
Your Tomato Growing Questions Answered Tips For Growing Great Tomatoes
in the gardening QA series today we'lllook at some tomato growing questions so let's jump to the first questionAkif writes, my tomatoes have grown more than 8 feet tall and i'm not ableto find a tomato cage that big and the branches are falling out so what do i doso as you can see here we've been using these cages these are the standard cagesthat are available in most home improvement or garden stores and theycan easily support tomatoes up to eight or ten feet now the key is to make surethat they're not installed this way that you're seeing here you need to make surethat the prongs on the bottom are
pushed all the way down into the groundand as you can see in the diagram here this is where you will need to make surethat the stakes are pushed totally inside the ground and they're a cheapoption to create good tomato cages if you wanna see more details please docheck out our tutorial on tomato cages where we've covered all the types ofcages in detail our next question comes from Christopherand he asks whether we prune our indeterminate tomato varieties now Ionly prune tomatoes that are growing in containers and i usually only growdeterminate varieties in containers as
you can see here we are pinching off thesuckers of this tomato plant so that the plant grows straight and producestomatoes as it grows and it can be tied to a stake now for the tomatoes that Igrow in raised beds or in the ground which usually are indeterminate tomatoesi do not prune a lot but i do remove the dead leaves and branches as the plantgrows and this is especially true towards the end of the season where youneed access to the tomatoes so you need to prune a little bit now one thingthat's true for both determinate and indeterminate tomatoes whether growing incontainers or raised beds is to make
sure that you prune around the base ofthe plant and towards the ground where the foliage can touch the water or theground by doing this by keeping the plant clear at the base youwill be able to prevent most tomato diseases so this is a very importantstep determinate or indeterminate you need to make sure that you prune thebase of the plant and keep it very clean our next question comes from Mary andshe says for me it's a no no to fertilizers and this is a very interesting questionbecause I know a lot of you that do not like to use fertilizers so the first thingthat you need to use is to make sure
that you use compost which not onlyconditions your soil but also provides a lot of nutrients that your plant needsnow other than compost or worm castings you can also use a fertilizer designed fortomatoes and vegetables and you can either mix it when when you're preparingyour container mix which is the easiest way to do it or you could just scatter italong the base of the plant and then work it and very well into the soil sothis is an easy way of using fertilizer and I don't see any reason why youshould not use organic fertilizers for your tomatoes especially because theyprovide a lot of nutrients to your plants
our next question comes from Aniketand he asks whether for growing a healthy plant why we're taking the lifeof an animal by using fish blood bone of animals in organic fertilizers and ifsynthetic fertilizers are an option and this is a great question now fertilizersare available as organic as well as synthetic or saltbased fertilizesorganic fertilizers are usually made up of animal products like fish blood boneand feather like dried blood of cows and pigs and other animals and synthetic orsalt based fertilizers are made with salts so they contain nitrogenphosphorus and potassium in the amounts