Mustards and yarrow and beans! Oh, my!
Pretty colors light up our vineyards right now. The winter cover crops are sprouting after the rains in December. Yellow mustard, green barley, orange calendula cover the space between the rows of vines. The plants are not only beautiful but they also play a big role in creating the best grapes possible for our wines. There are so many ways in which they contribute.
The plants are not only beautiful but they also play a big role in creating the best grapes possible for our wines. The roots perforate the soil and when some roots die, canals are created which aerate the soil so the overall composition of the soil improves over time.
Beans, mustard and clover plants provide nitrogen and other nutrients are left by a number of plants as they decompose. It is all transported to the vines through the soil by water and mowing and tilling. And the more cover crops the less space for weeds to settle in.
Cover crops also improve water holding capabilities, which is something we really need in the dry California climate and of course in our steep upper vineyard off of West Dry Creek Road it helps erosion control.
Yarrow, fennel, sweet clover, and chamomile come later in the spring and they create a nice habitat for our friends, the benevolent flies and bugs which go hunting pest insects.There is biological warfare right in our vineyard between the good and the bad guys, just like a Hollywood movie.
As you can see the combination of all these great plants creates an eye-pleasing backdrop while they work hard on all the other tasks for us. We are lucky to be part of this ever-changing landscape.