Showing posts from June, 2010

Organics - Doing the right thing.

I sometimes wonder whether non interventionist organic agriculture is a ruse from the big oil companies to encourage consumption.
You can use one spray of one litre of glyphosate weed killer and go off and find something better to do or, you can invest in kilometres of plastic mulch, buy a gas weed burner and mow ten times a year using gallons of diesel pumping loads of Co2 into the atmosphere. It's the same with plant sprays - you can go through your vineyard burning up gas every day with compost teas and biodynamic treatments but one single spray of a chemical like CBZ will do the job.
How organic can we be when oil gets too expensive or runs out? The amount of work that you can acheive in spraying, mowing, trimming and general transport of heavy stuff with one small tractor is amazing and you really appreciate the back breaking toil that agricultural workers had to go through. Trust me, I've shovelled enough shit to know what it must have been like!
I rejoice that we have…

When I'm 64

This picture is of what was once Pilton Manor Vineyard. It is now planted with an orchard so maybe it has reverted to its true self. The wine they made was truly excellent and there has been a lot of talk in the UK wine business about why so many of the vineyards planted in the 70's and 80's are no longer around. What with all the new plantings I suppose people are questioning whether they will last.The first thing to say is all credit to those pioneers who were really experimenting in a brave new world with varietals and trellising methods. The reality was that for many of them the vineyard was a retirement hobby and the produce only had to reach a basic quality level. They were also told that only obscure German varietals would work and that anything else was a waste of time. Funnily enough, I was also told this by a self proclaimed English Wine expert in the early 1990's.
Once they became too old quality often wasn't sufficiently good to make it worthwhile anybody e…

Ice in the Veins

2009 is looking good so far with the vines catching up after a slow start from the cold winter. We are hearing that a lot of people were hit by frost which will set them back with a smaller crop. The sap in new buds feezes and it kills them. Secondary buds will grow but they are never as good. This has affected good as well as bad sites and it reminds you that some years you may just have to accept that the climate is against you and you aren't going to get a crop despite all your work. Luckily here we never went below 2 degrees but mentally some years you have to be prepared to lose everything.The next step for us is getting our antiquated sprayer running. You have to complete training courses to use it which sounds a bit nanny state until the practicalities set in of getting the right dose for 3200 vines and not killing your self overturning a third of a ton of liquid in a tank on the back of a tractor.