Thinning is a strange thing that’s mostly restricted to this time of year –late spring/early summer.
It’s strange because we seem to have spent a GREAT deal of effort encouraging plant growth through a myriad of land-mine moments, such as late frosts and gale force winds, only to then start pulling off and out said growth.
Because its been so difficult to get to this point there is a huge amount of trepidation about ripping anything off or out at all!
I feel as if we need just another month or so. A chance to get used to the comfortable-ness of abundance. I’m not ready to let go of what may not be useful, but would rather luxuriate in excess for a while longer.
Life doesn’t really work this way though does it? A puritanical attitude now will yield long-term benefits. A stitch in time saves nine. Etcetera Etcetera. Sigh.
Fine. But I refuse to do this with gusto or excessive joy. There will be much hesitation and soul-searching. A vine shoot here, an apple there, yearning looks at carrot thinings and wanton glances back to the pile of tomato laterals.
We thin grape vines at this time of year as they may have grown more than one shoot from a bud, and we can see which shoots are fruitful or not. This opens up the canopy and creates more air flow.
There is an advantage to all this removal though- consuming what you’ve removed. Not so tasty with unripe fruit, but a total treat with baby carrots. It’s also the perfect time of year to harvest grape vine leaves, preserving them for future dolmades and anything else that needs wrapping.
Preserving Grape Vine Leaves
50 grape leaves, palm-sized. I like Pinot Noir over Sauvignon Blanc, but that should surprise no one.
125gms of salt
1 litre of water
Wash & pat dry the leaves. Layer them into groups of about ten and wrap cigar like.
Secure with string. Now I’m sure if you’re a Greek Yia Yia (grandmother) you probably don’t need this step, but then I’m assuming if you are, you won’t be getting your preserved grape leaf recipe from me! So secure with string and put in a bowl.
Bring the salt and water to the boil and pour over the grape vine leaves. Leave for a minute or two and then fish out of the hot brine and remove the strings.
Then put the cigars of vine leaves in a suitably sized preserving jar and pour the hot brine over the top, making sure they are well covered (they will float).
In theory they should last this way for up to a year, but in our family it’s never past Autumn.
Remove them as needed and fill with any mix that takes your fancy!