Quantcast

Beneficial/cover crops for small vineyards?

Wine Making Talk

Help Support Wine Making Talk:

sremick

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2019
Messages
183
Reaction score
45
So I have a very small vineyard. 42 vines, 2 rows. So really only a single "middle" row.

Right now it's just grass. My intention is to torch down a swath down each row killing what's there, then covering with weed-block fabric. So that'll eliminate a bit of competition down each row. But I'm wondering what other things are worth considering, keeping in mind my small scale.

I'm strongly considering planting some peonies, to attract beneficial parasitic tiphia wasps. Maybe a forsythia too, for the same reason. How many, spacing, and location are TBD.

Is there any benefit in planting a cover crop down my single middle row? Buckwheat? Clover? Something else? Or down the rows of vines themselves? Since it's not a traditional cover crop that goes in the same beds as the main crop, I'd be content to let it go to seed and reseed itself each year, reducing maintenance and costs.

Open to suggestions, that have realistic benefits. The ideas of natural pest maintenance and permaculture are extremely appealing to me.
 

garymc

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2011
Messages
958
Reaction score
214
I don't have a good answer, but I can tell you some mistakes I made. I used landscaping fabric in the row, pinning it down every so many feet and covering it with wood mulch to keep the wind from blowing it away. The wind blew dirt into the mulch and it, of course, decayed and became better soil than what was under it. When weeds and grass sprout on top, the roots anchor into the fabric. What a mistake! I'm still spraying and pulling weeds by hand in the rows, but they're harder to pull. Another thing I did once was plant clover in the middles. I just went to the local seed store and bought one of the 2 clovers they had. The stuff grew mid-calf high. If I dropped a shovel or rake in it, I might search for it forever. Clover sends out runners and when they got thick around the trunks, I sprayed it. Trans-locating spray like glyphosate will kill it back into the middles. I should have gotten a clover that doesn't get so tall, so it wouldn't have been hurt so bad by mowing and it wouldn't have been such a nuisance. I should have sprayed with something that just kills what it touches. I may do the clover again with a miniature variety if I can find one that will thrive there. Otherwise, I need some kind of grass or something that doesn't have to be mowed so often.
 

srcorndog

srcorndog
WMT Supporter
Joined
May 14, 2012
Messages
93
Reaction score
9
Location
Carrollton Georgia
I keep my rows clean underneath 2 feet on each side of my vines flowering plants bring bugs and fungus I spray with glyphosate I have roses at the end of my rows to warn my of fungus.
 

garymc

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2011
Messages
958
Reaction score
214
I keep my rows clean underneath 2 feet on each side of my vines flowering plants bring bugs and fungus I spray with glyphosate I have roses at the end of my rows to warn my of fungus.
What do you do in your middles?
 

srcorndog

srcorndog
WMT Supporter
Joined
May 14, 2012
Messages
93
Reaction score
9
Location
Carrollton Georgia
In the middle of the rows I have very short trimmed grass I mow on 2 inches height
Like to post a picture but having problems sorry
 
Last edited:

Ct Winemaker

Supporting Members
WMT Supporter
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
79
Reaction score
45
Location
North East Connecticut
Sorry. Meant to add a note. This is what we did. This is our first year with our vineyard. Roundup under plants, mow grass between.
 

JoP

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2019
Messages
90
Reaction score
36
If you have a small vineyard, cover crops are easier to manage and beneficial.
If you choose the right Clover, it will keep weeds away and it will reseed, as well as provide Nitrogen to your soil.
The crimson clover is a good choice, it is not too tall and looks nice too. Don't use any chemical pesticides in your vineyard if you care about your health and the health of your environment, yes they kill weeds, but they will kill you too.
 

Dennis Griffith

Supporting Members
WMT Supporter
Joined
Jun 16, 2018
Messages
629
Reaction score
374
Location
Hillsboro, Ohio
I just keep grass in between the rows, but clover could be a good idea as it helps with nitrogen in the soil. The rows I keep clean for the first couple of years (or maybe 3, depending on vine vigor) and I use glyphosate (carefully), as well as hand weeding. I do put down a cypress mulch after planting, but don't maintain it after a couple of years. The after 2 or 3 years, the rows just get the weed eater treatment (what doesn't get mowed).

Old row

IMG_9126.jpg

Newer rows

IMG_9133.jpg
 

JoP

Member
Joined
Jun 19, 2019
Messages
90
Reaction score
36
I just keep grass in between the rows, but clover could be a good idea as it helps with nitrogen in the soil. The rows I keep clean for the first couple of years (or maybe 3, depending on vine vigor) and I use glyphosate (carefully), as well as hand weeding. I do put down a cypress mulch after planting, but don't maintain it after a couple of years. The after 2 or 3 years, the rows just get the weed eater treatment (what doesn't get mowed).

Old row

View attachment 55691

Newer rows

View attachment 55692
I took similar steps to keep weeds in check, except for the pesticide. Covered the rows with weed blocker and wood chips, but after two three years the weeds started growing on top of it. Now I just do hand weeding (I have only 49 vines) and this keeps me pretty busy.
This year I planted clover between the rows and will see how it goes.
I don't use any chemical pesticides because I don't believe that any amount is safe for you.
Glyphosate is particularly questionable in my opinion. It is the main ingridient in Roundup and although it was recently re-declared safe by the EPA (the new deregulated EPA) I stay away from it. Just a day ago in the News, Bayer is facing an incredible number of lawsuits
Better safe than sorry.
 

Skashoon

Big hat, no cattle
Joined
May 10, 2020
Messages
47
Reaction score
7
Location
N KY
Was looking at some vinegar-based weed killers, such as ‘Eco Garden Pro’ on Amazon. No harmful chemicals, eco friendly and safe for kids, pets and bees. Never used it yet but I have made a homemade batch of vinegar, Dawn and water for weeds last summer. It killed weeds in my patio spaces quite handily.
 

sremick

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2019
Messages
183
Reaction score
45
Was looking at some vinegar-based weed killers, such as ‘Eco Garden Pro’ on Amazon. No harmful chemicals, eco friendly and safe for kids, pets and bees. Never used it yet but I have made a homemade batch of vinegar, Dawn and water for weeds last summer. It killed weeds in my patio spaces quite handily.
Pretty sure vinegar isn't just a weed-killer... it's an herbicide. So those homemade "weed killer" mixes will actually kill anything that grows. Probably not what you want to be pouring next to your grape vines.

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong.
 

Skashoon

Big hat, no cattle
Joined
May 10, 2020
Messages
47
Reaction score
7
Location
N KY
True, I just sprayed a little on weeds and let the sun desiccate them. Seepage into the Vine roots would not be good.
 

Dennis Griffith

Supporting Members
WMT Supporter
Joined
Jun 16, 2018
Messages
629
Reaction score
374
Location
Hillsboro, Ohio
I tried the citrus based weed killer last year (not around the grapes) to see how effective it was. Took way too much to be effective. I know folks also use vinegar mixed with Epsom salt to kill weeds. I won;'t try it until I see some research on it. I may plant a vines just for testing this year as I'm always worried about residuals in the soil. As for Roundup, I've read some research that leans toward thinking the additives in Roundup, and not the glyphosate, may be responsible for the reported cancer cases. Hard to say due to all the misinformation these days. As for pesticide, I don't like it, but have to rely on it to stop the JBs from devastating my vineyard. I can list a long line of stuff I've tried over the years (like tobacco tincture and dish soap), but the tough critters doesn't seem bothered by anything non-nuclear.
 

Skashoon

Big hat, no cattle
Joined
May 10, 2020
Messages
47
Reaction score
7
Location
N KY
Agree, the JB’s are a constant struggle. I’d sure like to find something with a residual effect. With all the rain we’ve had of late, it’s hard to get any residual repellent. Sevin kills them but I only get a day or two after effect. I wonder if it could be mixed with Stylet oil to keep it on the leaf surface longer? I’ll need to check the labels.
I too have tried nicotine spray which only repels them for a day. There has to be an answer somewhere to kill them. I can use milky spore but my neighbors don’t, so the JB’s just keep on coming. Let me know if you find anything that works.
Skash
 

Dennis Griffith

Supporting Members
WMT Supporter
Joined
Jun 16, 2018
Messages
629
Reaction score
374
Location
Hillsboro, Ohio
I have a 3 pronged strategy. I treat different areas each year with milky spore. I set traps out and away from the vineyard and orchard. And I spray with Garden Tech Sevin. It not carbaryl based, but is Zeta-Cypermethrin based, which I find most effective on the little buggers. I'm slowly whittling their numbers down.
 

Dennis Griffith

Supporting Members
WMT Supporter
Joined
Jun 16, 2018
Messages
629
Reaction score
374
Location
Hillsboro, Ohio
I agree with the ineffectiveness of the Carbaryl products. It's like seasoning on their salad, grape leaf salad that is. I used to use Bonide Fruit Tree Spray (carbaryl, malathion, captan) once a year on trees and vines. One year, 2 days after a spray (no rain in this period), JBs popped out of the ground and went to work, and by lunch had eaten half my leaves. It was a bad year, but I ran to town and purchased the Zeta-Cypermethrin based Sevin and the little buggers had lost their appetite by late that afternoon. Sold me on the product. Here's a shot of a trap from that year after being up for a mere 6 hours.

DSCN3664.JPG
 

Latest posts

Top