I looked around and found one place that sells a vineyard kit, however, that only covered a few square inches of land for around $30. I figured to purchase enough of these kits to get a vineyard worth looking at would cost $100s.
This past friday an article in Model Railroad Hobbyist magzine had this AMAZING article - you have to at least look at his pictures - How to plant an N-scale Vineyard. It goes over a very inexpensive way to build a vineyard for N-scale. Near the bottom of his post, before the comments, he has a video that gote through the entire process from beginning to end.
I read through it, and watched the video, took notes, and thought up a plan. In his article, M.C. uses stranded wire as the vines, twists, bends, coats them with a stucco paste, paints them, covers them with floss/fiber, sprays and foams them, and finally plants them. That's all after he's put in all the posts, wire, static grass in between. This is a lot of work, but you can't argue that its not worth it. His results are nothing short of spectacular.
I model HO, so I couldn't follow this exactly. I looked around at what I had and realized - I don't have stranded wire, don't have stucco paste, Mr. T pins, or the ez-line he uses. So I'm back at square one, kind of, but not really because now I have something to go from. That bug of an idea in my head that its possible to scratch build a vineyard. Something I didn't thnk was possible for a new modler like me. Seeing how he accomplished the final product was invaluable. So I started thinking how I could achieve something even close to what he did.
I was out mowing and the field next to me has weeds, shrubs, random types of trees and bushes. I hear all the time in podcasts about people taking real branches, and twigs and using them to make realistic trees or using them somehow on their layout. Looking at the mess that the neighboring empty lot is, a plan started to form in my head.
Since M.C. took the stranded wire, stripped it, twisted it, bent it into a T shape, added stucco paste, then painted it a dark grey - all to get them to look like real grape vines (and they do!). I figured - since I don't have those supplies, nor really anything that coudl substitute for them, what if I "short-cutted" all of those steps that and used real wood for my vines? I walked through the bushes shown in the picture and cut a large bouquet of weeds of various sorts, figuring something in this mess has to work. When I went down to the basement to work that night, I looked through what I had cut. I found that one of the weeds (have no idea what its called) looked like the perfect thickness for HO style vines. Since its natural, it has slight bends, texture, color, and a look that will surve my purposes, AND saved me from that labor of love M.C. went through crafting his vines and trunks. My only hope at this point is that they look half as good as his do.
Now - I proved I could build the basic vine, but I had to figure out where to plant the vineyard. I knew basically where I wanted one, but it wasn't prepped or anything. Since I've decided to remove the upper track (you can see that in the top-left of the photo), I had more room for a vineyard. I may sculpt a nice hill and add more on that plateau as well. Anyway, I cleared out all the miscellaneous items from that area, and gave it a base coat of paint that I happened to have laying around. I grabbed an old country house I had just to get an idea of where I might place a structure and how much clearance to leave, etc. Looking at my notes again, M.C. put his posts 24' apart and spaced the rows 10' from each other. I drew some lines and since I didn't have T-pins I grabbed some thumb tacks. The green are the end posts, and yellow are the straight middle posts (Yea, I'm a little OCD like that)
I had some HO 4x4 balsa wood that I had played around with weathering quite some time ago, which looked perfect for the vineyard posts. I cut those to 8' lengths as well figuring I'd bury 2' of it when I placed them. After I had a pile of posts, I dipped the ends in an india ink mix to turn the ends grey where I had cut them.
I then took a large finishing nail (my post hole digger), removed a thumb tack and shoved the nail in the hole at an angle. Took a post, dabbed a small bit of wood glue and sank the post into the hole. It may be important to note that I have a 2" foam base. The foam board I use was from the 'cull' section at a lumber yard (this was free!) and it has a thick fiberglass paper on both sides (grey above). This paper is great for holding things in place and adhering items to, however, it does have fiberglass woven into it, so if you run your hand, forearm, etc along it, you'll end up with little dots of pain all over (experience).
The picture above, shows my post hole digger and a couple posts I placed already. My lines and bad ground paint job is apparent as well. That's another thing about the paper backed foam board, it absorbes everything, so if I really wanted a nice constant coat, I'd have done a 3rd coat. I actually had applied a 2nd coat on this when it was still wet. I think the variation gives it a nice ground look, and really, its mostly going to be covered later anyway. thinking about it, I guess I should have added that before my posts, I was just so excited to get going. So live and learn, that's what the hobby is about when you're new like me.
Once a post was placed I measured to make sure it was 6' high to match the rest of the posts and vines to come. I worked my way around, pulling out the green tacks, digging the post hole with my nail and planting posts. Eventually I made it around the vineyard and placed all the end posts.
It went pretty quickly and I think its looking good. I need to cut more posts for the rest of the field. Then I have to figure out what to use for the vine wire.
That's as far as I've gotten. Not bad for a night's work.