Now that the vineyard has begun its new life with trellis training, the vines have more foliage, and the moisture accumulated during the winter is gone from the soil, it is time to provide the vines with the water they need. But irrigating a vineyard during these hot, dry days of summer takes more effort than just turning on the garden hose. First, we have to walk the vineyard, checking the irrigation to each and every vine, exactly 6,816 plants. The soil has been broken up by a spader, so it’s very light and high. Stepping into it causes you to sink three to four inches. That’s quite a slog.
As we look at each plant, we check the connection from the emitter to the spaghetti hose and the end of the hose to the plant. Is the water landing where it needs to be? Is it coming out at all? Have the crows managed to disconnect the hose so they can get a taste of the irrigation water? Jake loves to run up and down the rows, often ducking underneath the trellis wire, which can also knock a hose from the emitter or from the proper placement at the vine.
We figured we could do this microscopic inspection once at the beginning of the irrigation season and then spot check later for problems. Unfortunately, when we rechecked an area, there were already loose hoses. Looks like it’s an every time job.
One issue that’s easy to see is when a hose has sprung a leak or has been pierced by one of our thirsty neighbors who like to chew on the hose for water. These include opossums, raccoons, skunks and even fox and coyote. You’ll see a tall geyser spraying into the morning sun. Clay has become an expert at hose repair.
Keeping the well running is also a big job. All of the system that is above ground (filters, manifolds, computer controllers, and so forth) is new and state of the art, but the well and the well pump are old. Clay has to clean the sand filters and the Arkal filter, reset circuit breakers, and monitor line pressures to make sure the well is keeping up with the demands we’re placing on it. He also has to get up in the middle of the night to change the system from one block to the next.
It’s a tough job. We’re glad we’re the ones doing it.