Plant selection and spacing are intricate details that need to be incorporated into any vineyard ecosystem. For Solar Innovations, Inc.’s vineyard project, specific plants, seeds, and layouts were used to ensure the successful and continual growth of the vineyard. White, red, and purple clovers were installed around and between the trellises to increase the pollination of the fruit plants. Late crops were planned for this year and installed to produce a September harvest without sacrificing the potential death of the plant from a late bloom and early winter combination. Slower growing plants were spaced approximately 6′ apart between the trellis’ posts while some of the faster growing plants were installed approximately 8′ apart. This will maintain their growing rates and thus support the entire ecosystem. These plants were specifically chosen for a few reasons, but primarily to surround and accentuate the flavor of the grapes. Clover honey is the most sought after and helps to maintain the health of bees, which we hope to host in the near future. The white clover grows closest to the ground, while the red and purple grow approximately 6-12″ above the ground. The bees always select the white clover first, while deer prefer the purple.
Corn and soybean plants will be added to the surrounding area for the promotion of healthy wildlife while soybeans are also planted between the trellis rows to refurbish the nitrogen content in the soil. This allows the grapes and raspberries to continue to grow in future years, maintaining the necessary nutrient content in the soil. The surrounding area, not cleared for the installation of the vineyard, maintained its cover and was left to protect the nearby wildlife and incorporate the planned rabbit habitats, slated for installation this summer.
These steps are taken to ensure the integrity of the ecosystem, while adding to the quality and flavor of the fruit itself. If the vine produces too many grapes overall or at too quickly a pace, the soil is robbed of the necessary nutrients to sustain the fruit and they do not produce nearly as pleasant a flavor. Proper pruning techniques are required to create both growth in the proper direction along the trellis and to create proper shading for the fruit from the surrounding leaves. There is a fine and delicate balance between harvest and taste and the two must remain in constant tension to produce the best quality product.