In the vines…..April 5, 2012
In late December, we plant a cover crop which consists of peas, barley and grasses in order to protect the soils from heavy winter rains and run-off. The cover crop also provides organic matter and nitrogen for the soil and vines. We plant this cover crop in every other row so that during our February/ March pruning, we can toss the cut canes into the non-planted rows. Then we can go through with a mower-shredder that can easily mulch the canes back into the soil. We then disk those rows in order to get a good mix.
The cover crop row is mowed just prior to our first spring frost. This allows the colder air, which settles to the ground, to move underneath the vines rather than be held close to the new buds. The newly mowed cover crop row provides continued soil protection for unexpected rains, beneficial areas for native insects and easier access to the vineyard during harvest if we receive heavy rains in the fall. We alternate these planted rows every other year in order to maintain the most optimum soil conditions and erosion control. This is just one of the many sustainable vineyard practices that we utilize here at Still Waters Vineyards!
This is a picture of a root of a Dundale Pea plant. This is a legume which stores nitrogen in small nodules that look like sand. The nitrogen is used in the development of the pea. In our case, the peas are mowed prior to bloom and the nitrogen is left in the soil that is eventually broken down and used by the grape vines.