Our agricultural endeavors seem to be veering along two separate and distinct paths. With two radically different outcomes. Perhaps the difference is that one is being run along the lines of a corporation i.e. good and knowledgeable professionals are brought in when needed. The other farm is run by a rank amateur desperately trying to learn “on the job”. Who would that incompetent be? [Guiltily raises hand.]

First let’s talk about the successes. Because if we start with the failures, I won’t be able to finish the post. Did I say success? How about an excess of success? That’s what’s happening at Two Terrier Vineyards.

 

I know we look like the farming equivalent of the bad neighbor who doesnt mow his lawn. But there is a scientific reason behind this scraggliness.

I know we look like the farming equivalent of the bad neighbor who doesn't mow his lawn. But there is a scientific reason behind this seeming neglect.

In the past few years, as the vines were planted and maturing toward first harvest, our vineyard management company has been seeding the land between the rows with nitrogen-fixing cover crops like red clover. Periodically they hauled in mulch and spread it between the rows. We did our part dutifully returning the pressings and cuttings as further mulch to the vineyard.

As this season has gone on, I noticed our vineyards becoming decidedly seedy. Grass was growing wild as high as the vines and no cover crops had been added for over a year. I brought this up with the vineyard manager who comes here on an ad hoc basis. Let me just digress on this vineyard manager business. I’m not talking a snooty Frenchman who wears a beret and waffles on endlessly about “thee terroir“. I’m talking a great guy named Clarence who has some tractors and vineyard equipment. In other words, this guy is a farmer. And a good one. In case you ever forget, or I do, let me remind both of us: 99% of this winemaking game is farming.

So Clarence, or rather his equally knowledgeable partner Linda, told us the surprising news. Our grapes are doing entirely too well. That’s why they’re letting the grass go wild. They’ve got to suck some nutrients OUT of the soil. And furthermore, they’re shutting off the water. We knew grapes needed to suffer to produce good wine grapes (instead of big fat watery table grapes which will take all the pampering you can give them). But our grapes are heading into their own Abu Graib. Call it waterLESSboarding. Yeah, what doesn’t kill them will make them stronger. In the end, when I pour you a glass of Vintage 2009 Estate Grown Two Terrier Cabernet, you’ll thank me for taking a Dick Cheney stand on this.

 

Even more draconian and Darwinian, were advised to cut half the fruit off the vines and throw it on the ground. The foxes are already rejoicing.

Even more draconian and Darwinian, we're advised to cut half the fruit off the vines and throw it on the ground. The foxes are already rejoicing.

 

The scenario is completely different in the little kitchen garden down the hill. Let’s call it Stumblebum Farm. I’ve done everything for those crops. I irrigated. I cleared out aphids. I brought in worms and ladybugs. I’ve mulched and driven to Santa Cruz twice for organic compost tea. I tell ya, I’ve worked my fingers to the bone for those vegetable kids. No respect.

 

Say, why is there a big hole in the middle of the tomato bed? Is it because the marigolds and tomatoes on the right were starts planted by someone else? The middle? Thats where I planted seeds. Nada.

Say, why is there a big hole in the middle of the tomato bed? Is it because the marigolds and tomatoes on the right were starts planted by someone else? The middle? That's where I planted seeds. Nada.

The melons are way behind in their development. Im thinking of calling the teacher and having them held back.

The melons are way behind in their development. I'm thinking of calling the teacher and having them held back.

 

Maybe it’s time for a little Tough Love in the vegetable patch.

 

At least Im getting some Vegetable Love from my corn. You can hardly tell the difference between the starts and the seeds I planted.

At least I'm getting some Vegetable Love from my corn. You can hardly tell the difference between the starts and the seeds I planted.

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