I have to admit that the idea of naming plants is pretty silly (but so is naming animals to someone who grew up with animals filling a utilitarian, rather than a social role).
Some time ago, after the vines I had planted put out shoots, I photographed them all to document their progress. Looking over the collection of photos with me, Irene jokingly asked if I had names for all of them. In a moment of subsequent lighthearted fun, we came up with names for the vines -the more archaic and biblical, the better.
And so, that brings me to Kenny. This smallest, weakest, quite possibly disadvantaged and most unfortunate of my 44 Aglianico vines, is circling the drain. Admittedly, this name came to mind as I watched this vine begin to fail while others thrived.
I think there may be one or more things going on with Kenny.
Jeff Miller speculates that this vine’s shoots are from the rootstock and not the scion. There may also be a pH issue with the soil where Kenny was planted. There may be a potassium deficiency at play- though this is a bit far-fetched, given that adjacent vines are thriving.
There is something about the very small area where this vine is planted that suggests low fertility. When I went to check in on the vines and pull weeds after the recent rainstorm which moved through California, the basin around this failing vine had very little grass growing in it.
Following the rainstorm, the flora of Mount Washington has sprung to life. The basins around each plant collected the run off, allowing the soil around each vine to become saturated. The grasses, weeds, flowers and wild oats which cover the hillside each spring began to grow. Everywhere except around Kenny.
It may also be the case that the neighborhood cats are not controlling the gopher population and the critters have made a snack of Kenny’s roots. Since none of the adjacent vines are having any problems, I am not inclined to think that this vine’s failure is due to insects, nematodes or microbes.
Ultimately, speculation is useless. Something must be done. In the coming days, I will gently extricate Kenny from the ground. I say “gently” because I do not want to literally pull this vine out of the ground. I plan to take some soil samples, observe the roots and look for signs of gopher tunnels. I’ll try to collect some soil from around the root ball as well.
Dealing with problems intrinsic to the soil may be within the scope of practicality. How I will deal with microbes is less clear. Hopefully, putting in one of the back-up vines I have will be the end of the problem.
But if I will ever know who or what killed Kenny, remains to be seen.