Advancements to the Cause
Slowly, but surely, I sense a true movement taking hold for a more environmentally sensitive approach in vineyards here in the East. An article in a recent issue of "Wines and Vines" magazine, a trade journal for the industry, spoke at length about the meeting I attended in Lancaster, PA on sustainable viticulture. The author discusses in greater detail some of the issues I touched on in an earlier post. For further reading: http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=news&content=75503&htitle=Solutions%20for%20Eastern%20Winegrowers
In the intriguing world of biodynamic sprays, there is an interesting assortment of concoctions that assist the vines and the soil below to enhance life in the vineyard. Biodynamics is a homeopathic approach, only proportionately minute applications are used. As I mentioned, I certainly am not an expert in the field. A few years ago I sent my sister, Cindy, to a biodynamic workshop to learn about this "slightly mysterious" approach to farming practices. She was reluctant, but eager to learn more about it. Over that weekend, she experienced and learned enough to come away enthused and convinced in her mind that the principles behind biodynamics are worth applying in our vineyard. My way of thinking goes about like this..... If one thinks of the role the moon plays on the forces of the earth, pulling and moving entire oceans I suppose other celestial bodies could play a role as well, albeit a much more subtle force. And don't we inject minute amounts of vaccines into our bodies so that our system develops the desired response of immunity? The left brain, skeptical part of me questions the validity of many BD practices, but I suppose when centuries ago someone first starting talking about the planet being round rather than square, people were skeptical as well. Until we develop the technology to prove new theories, I suppose it is healthy to be both skeptical and to have an open mind, which is where I am. I rely on Cindy to study the biodynamic calendar and inform me of what to spray when, based on the lunar and celestial cycles, and the purpose of that particular spray, which is the basis for timing of all biodynamic spray applications.
So, what is this Willow Tea? In my readings and conversations, I had come upon the use of this tea, not only in biodynamic farming, but for general farming use. Willow is a source of salicylic acid, the base of common aspirin. The theory is that this will stimulate the SAR response (discussed in my previous post) to generate cellular protection and increase flavors. So last week, we picked some bark and leaves from one of our willow trees, a tree we planted to mark the year our first grandbabies were born, three years ago. We let the willow tea soak overnight, strained it and stirred it for the required one hour. Then we sprayed it on the fruit. How do I know if it works? All I know is that my fruit is healthy and disease-free, and we are a nearly organic vineyard with dense planting. In Virginia! And if biodynamic practices are good enough for one of the greatest vineyards in the world, Romanee-Conti in Burgundy, it's good enough for me!
You might enjoy this very interesting and informative article on SAR, salicylic acid and Willow Tea: http://www.bluestem.ca/willow-article1.htm
Off to go pick some more willow bark now! Ciao!
Owen and Kaegan
Under the Willow Tree, 2007