With the conversion of our vineyard from a hilling-up vineyard to a geotextile vineyard, we began planting cover crops between our vineyard rows.
Why, you might ask?
Cover crops have a variety of functions, from cutting down on weeds, to attracting beneficial insects to building up your soil! As an added bonus, many cover crops make your vineyard look beautiful!
We put down a clover cover crop and mixed in a bit of thyme and chamomile. Check our vineyards when the clover is flowering and the ground is alive with bees. Happy, buzzing, little guys, moving from plant to plant. The clover in our vineyard out-competes weeds, which are always difficult to maintain without the use of herbicides (which we don’t use). It’s a very quick to establish crop so gets the job done, making it easier for us to get a handle on our weed problem.
Continued on with our clover, seeding more rows than in 2019
We embarked on the real start of our journey and chose a blend of plants with various benefits (breaking up compaction, attracting beneficial insects, drought resistance, crowding out weeds)
Our 2021 Blend:
5% Alyssum (lobularia maritima)
5% Shasta Daisy
50% Annual Ryegrass
Radishes break up compaction. They create holes that water can infiltrate. Annual ryegrass has a good root system that helps breakup hardpan compaction. Brassicas are natural biofumigants which can help reduce nematode populations. Phacelia attracts beneficial insects and also provides some nutrients upon breakdown. Shasta daisy not only looks pretty, but attracts plenty of beneficial insects. Alyssum has shown signs of breaking down copper build up, which in an organic spray program is a problem that needs to be addressed.
The 2021 cover crop plan was our starting point and we will go forward from here. Planting various crops, mowing and perhaps tilling from time to time. We will monitor the 2021 cover crop vintage and plan again for planting in 2023.