Greg Schultz
 
December 30, 2013 | Greg Schultz

Line stakes

Line stakes are placed every 20 feet in the row.  They are 8 feet tall, made of steel, and have several notches on 2 sides.   Each line stake will ultimately support a lot of weight—drip irrigation lines, trellis wires, and most of the weight of the vines themselves.  To carry this load, they are pounded into the ground 18 inches, leaving 6 ½ feet above ground. 

Tools for installing line stakes include a post pounder, measuring stick, level, and gloves. 

Calluses are optional — they come later if you don’t start with them!    Our soil is sandy loam--only once or twice did we strike a rock large enough to halt the downward progress of the stake installation.  But, as we learned, that did not mean this was going to be easy.

With 2013 turning out to be the driest year in recorded history for Medford—9 inches of rain all year, we learned how hard sandy loam soil gets when it’s dry.  Not knowing what to expect, we struggled to pound a stake into the ground to its required depth in any time under 15 minutes.  So for our first hour’s efforts, we had successfully installed a grand total of 4 stakes.  Hmmm—4 stakes in 1 hour, the hands were feeling it, and we needed to install 400!  Something had to change.

This is when having a relatively small 1 ¼ acre vineyard close to the house comes in handy.  By stringing all of our garden hoses together, we were able to reach many of the locations.  So, when we were short on rainfall (which was most of the time) we watered the spots to soften the soil.  The results?  10 stakes an hour—still with sore hands, but better! 

They are now all in (just in time for winter), and we are…

 

                                    …one day closer to a vineyard.

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