STAR-GAZETTE | by Thomas Pellachia |

I spotted a lonely tractor in a barren Keuka vineyard, showing me that Doyle Vineyard Management (Doyle Vineyard Management) workers were out there in the frigid air during Christmas week because growing grapes is an all-year job.

It wasn’t a mound of snow the plow was getting ready to tackle – it’s lime, a necessary mineral in Keuka soil.

Gardeners among us know the value of proper soil pH. When out of balance, soil pH can hinder nutritional development in plants.

Keuka soil is generally acidic and so, local grape growers need to keep up with proper soil pH levels, especially after a wet season like 2009, which carries with it acid rain and all that it can do to increase the soil’s acidity.

High acidity usually interprets into low pH. Lime is alkaline and it raises pH.

During the week of Dec. 21, Doyle Vineyard Management workers were in the frigid Catawba vineyards that lie between county Route 76 and Middle Road to apply lime.

Early winter is a good time to spread lime, since it allows the mineral to be covered with snow and then slowly infiltrate the soil during the spring melt.

But these fellows were out there during a nasty, cold week, one which got me thinking fondly of retirement to maybe Cartegena, Columbia, and I am sure, they had similar thoughts.