Tag Archives: cover crop

Weird Weather or Climate Change

A week ago on Sunday 6/11/17 we were thinking that June has been a cool month and it looked line rain.  Well, later in the afternoon we had hail!  This is not an unusual occurrence in many parts of the country, but for us in Russian River Valley, we don’t even get much rain in June.

Now a week later we are having a heat wave.  It was 97 yesterday and will be 96 today.  The next 5 days look to be 96, 89, 92, and 95!!!  We don’t get this kind of heat in August.

So, is the vineyard OK?  So far…the picture below shows we still have green grass between the rows.  It is looking to be a good year!

Just so happens I was speaking to someone this last week about climate change and the subject of “The earth is cooling” from the 70’s came up.  So I decided to do a little research and looks like those research papers assumed we would increase sulfurs in the air by 4X.  But…we changed regulations and the greenhouse gases have taken over…so, I do believe in climate change and now can understand the “cooling” argument from the 70’s.  Check out my link above for a little information.

Weed Control and Cover Crops


A few years ago when we started the vineyard we had almost 2 acres of weeds and grass.  Then when we tilled, it seemed like the mustard and radish took over.  Since we are farming organically, we did not use round-up…just pulled weeds and then in 2011 we put down weed cloth in the vine rows.  In additionally, we have put down red clover the last few years to out compete the weeds.  You can see in the above picture that this year it is almost where I had envisioned 3 years ago.  A thick, healthy cover crop.  However, we still have some dandelion weeds.  So last week we went up and down every row and shoveled them out.  I’m sure we will have to do this again in a few weeks, but at least without 5 wheel barrows of weeds, I hope this will prevent weeds later in the year!


This is what the weeds looked like in 2010 before we planted the vines.  What a difference to what we have today!



Weeds, Cover Crop and Erosion

vine 7 8 11We had a late summer in Sebastopol….most folks around the country called it October…..so I didn’t get to my winter chores until the last week as we were enjoying the weather since it was so cold here this summer.

Until we came to Wine Country and planted “Turtle Vines” we did what everyone else does, clean the gutters, patch the roof, fix the furnace….that kind of thing.

Well, as soon as you are a farmer, you have to get ready for winter. (and always talk about the weather) For us that means getting the vineyard ready for winter. Last year we planted clover as a cover crop but it didn’t work well enough to keep the weeds away. We had a case of nasty flat weeds that covered the entire vineyard by the end of the summer. As you can see above, I rented a very large roto-tiller and spent 2 full days tilling our 2 miles of vine rows. Just image walking and turning with a 400 pound machine for 5 miles. That would be hard enough, but with the weeds, every 30 vines I had to go under the tiller and clean out the tines as they were tangled. That was a good workout for my lats. So a 6-8 hour job turned into 14 hours. Our new strategy for the end of 2010 and early 2011 is to out-compete the weeds. I am going to put 100 pounds of organic seed that will help the soil and hopefully keep the weeds away. Stay tuned for pictures.

If you remember last year, we had a little issue with erosion due to the fact that the soil was bare and vineyard drains were not in place. We put some in place last year, and now this year we have all of the house downspouts connected to a drain that ends up in the neighbors stream. In addition we enhanced the drain for the driveways. I’m hoping this will eliminate our erosion issue.

Now if I could just get the roof fixed and the paver projects done !!!

PS Raining today and so far the roof is not leaking. Will have to wait for a downpour to make sure.

Erosion Control

IMG_5427Well, the rain gods were testing us at Turtle Vines last week. We spread 75 pounds of Crimson Clover all over the vineyard in anticipation of the upcoming rain. They said it would rain hard but we were not totally prepared for 4+ inches this early in the season. I didn’t notice it last year, but all the rain from the driveway and the house and barn gutters ends up behind the barn. With all this water it runs down the field near the neighbors fence and out the back of the field. It must do this every year as the folks behind us have a large culvert to catch the rain. Only issue this year is that we got a little erosion in the field.

So, I ordered 30 bales of hay and 8 wattles and hired a guy from Graton to help me put it on the field and repair the dirt. Took a day and a half but I think we are now set for the rains. Looks like an El Nino year as it rained again on 10/19 another inch. We really need it here as they keep telling me we are in a drought. Coming from San Jose where it only rains 12 inches a year, getting 25 inches last year did not feel like a drought. However, as I’m learning in my Viticulture classes, this is the rain that will help the little plants next spring when we plant.

Cover Crops

mini gradingIn order to get my Crimson Clover in before the rains come…..I made a little ground smoother with some fence posts and fence wire and dragged it around the vineyard for several hours. It worked pretty well, although not as well as a tractor. Then I spread about 75 pounds of crimson clover by hand going up every other row with a seed spreader. The tough part was pushing a grass roller up and down each row twice (about 4 miles) in 1 1/2 hours. What a work out….6 miles of walking in an afternoon, but at least the grass is in!!!