PO Box 2458, Tijeras NM 87059

Mountain Gardens--finding success with plants for the high desert and East Mountains of New Mexico

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

New Grape Cuttings

 Spent the day getting my new grape cuttings on the heat mat.  As soon as they arrive, I start them soaking to rehydrate the wood. Juicy wood supports good callus which is what forms the new roots. This morning I mixed up perlite with a bit of peat potting mix then dipped the cuttings into rooting hormone and stuck them in the two inch pots. Then they all went on a heat mat at 85 degrees.

I've tried a slightly different method on each batch of cuttings, and I think either I'm getting better, or the refinements in the techniques are helping. I used all my six inch pots on the osage oranges, so I'm using a shorter pot, but it should heat better. In a week, I'll start checking the bottoms of the grapes for callus, and when it forms, I'll move the cuttings into gallon pots to finish developing roots.

I could plant the callused cutting directly into a prepared bed, and I've done that in the past, but our soil is so cool (and so hard, and so alkaline, and so many critters are out there) that I think the grape gets a better start growing out in loose potting mix.

My favorite reference for grapes is The Grape Grower--A Guide to Organic Viticulture, by Lon Rombough, which I heartily endorse--it's clear, and truly comprehensive. I have always ordered my cuttings from Mr. Rombough. Sadly, he passed away last winter, but his family was able to supply my grapes. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

 Flea beetles are emerging now, and doing serious feeding damage. Those of us who are familiar with the tiny black beetles that leave minute shot holes in cabbage leaves may be surprised at the size of some of our New Mexico species. A 1/4 inch or more long, they're capable of eating entire leaves, virtually defoliating plants. We found them this morning on a dozen pots of fireweed. A further search revealed the skeletonized leaves of my grapes. But only a few were on the garden veggies.

Good sanitation is the best defense against these little eating machines. Clear all plant debris from the vegetable beds (why didn't I make the time to do this?!!!!). Stir the soil around plant roots to expose eggs. Cover favorite plants (this would be all veggies!) with floating row cover--the best course after a new planting.

After they emerge, dust with diatomaceous earth or rotenone. On ornamentals try Sevin (carbaryl) or malathion. remember to follow directions. Any chemical can be dangerous. While carbaryl is considered safe for food crops, systemics like malathion are not.