Pruning grape vines for shade

My grovelling apologies for the silence.

If I had to calculate the time spent this month on two chores….


Portrait of a typical French taxpayer trying to finish the taxe habitation survey before the deadline.

And pulling grass seeds out of one’s socks.

The French administration is enjoying a nation panicking right now as we all try to conform to the ‘how many buildings and outhouses do you actually own?’ question. And of course when you find out that your converted barn has never been declared and can you please supply floor plan, site plan, cadastral plan, photos and reasons why it was never on the income tax declaration until now…

The concept of one farm house having another house as a ‘dependence…’

Yep. At least I declared the stables and the potting shed. Hopefully we will be ‘legal’ from now on.

Have a picture of a bouquet of flowers to reduce the blood pressure in the room.

I’m experimenting with lots of new amaranth varieties this year for flower arranging. Quite taken with this rose one.

I will spare you the picture of grass seedy socks.

Actually I am still in communication with the tax office, so I’m not out of the admin woods yet. But I’m optimistic it will all be sorted soon.

But one job I did manage between dramas of the indoor paperwork variety was pruning the growth on the vines.

I am trying an experiment this year.

We only use these vines as a shade cover for the outdoor table. The grapes are deliciously sweet, full of pips. And if you eat more than a bunch you race to the loo. (I was going to say ‘monstrous labours in the water closet’ but it’s the opposite in fact.)

I normally cut back hard each winter to the thick old growth.

But this spring I just left the vines in the hope that I will get longer stems this year and more cover to protect us from the sun. It is not deep shade where one needs it most.

I will normally have a good cut back of the leaf growth that crowds out the view around about now. But I’ve never seen this much nascent fruit.

Solene suggested I cut back hard. It’s what Monsieur Perrochon was doing this year as the brilliant spring rain meant everything is fluffy and way too abundant. So I shall be like the neighbours and spare the plants and lose the fruit.

This would be wasp and hornet heaven mid summer if I left all the bunches on the vines.

And it would probably exhaust the plants.

So I made an almighty mess.

At almost 10pm at night.

I left everything where it was overnight and by the next afternoon everything was nicely desiccated in the blasting heat.

Sweeping up and chucking onto the compost heap was a doddle with all the crispy bit.

And now it looks much neater and ready for the summer of house guestery that is almost upon us.

We have had two lots so far and many more to come.