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Thursday, 7 January 2016

Attack of the Rock Roses (Part 1)

Not so long ago in a vineyard not so far far away, all was in harmony and equilibrium. The dominant life-form (Garnacha vines)  were busy producing beautiful, aromatic, complex and well-balanced must, in collaboration with all the other minor life-forms who also lived in the vineyard. All lived together, the many species of grasses, plants, flowers and thistles and the many species of insects and assorted beasties, all the way down to microscopic size and even the invisible yet important unicellular life-forms like bacteria and yeasts; and also the occasional macro life-form which either lived in or just passed through the vineyard, like spiders, worms, birds, goats, sheep, cows, all the way up to the vigneron himself!

Old vine Garnacha vineyard, in El Tiemblo (Sierra de Gredos) Spain:
Harmony in the vineyard
But then, one day when the vigneron went to the vineyard to start on the annual pruning, he found that the balance and the harmony had been lost; for one of the minor life-forms (the Rock Roses) had invaded the vineyard and were starting to dominate it, to the detriment of the rightful species, the Garnachas.

Invasion of Rock Roses
Most of the rock roses were concentrated in a patch at the bottom of the vineyards out of sight of the top gate, hidden by a dip in the land.

Rock Rose patch at bottom of vineyard

What had happened? How had this come to pass? Was this a case of too little intervention by the vigneron? Perhaps. Some of those rock roses were quite tall and must have been there for at least two years. Others were small, less than one year old.

A tall deep-rooted 2-yr old rock rose
Rock roses are OK 'near' and 'around' the vineyard as they provide a habitat and biodiversity, and they look nice and smell good, and make a positive contribution to the quality of the grapes and must and wine. But no way can they be allowed to grow 'in' the vineyard among the vines. This is because rock roses and actually bushes and can even turn into small trees if the conditions are right for them. They are perennials, have long deep roots and would directly compete with the vines for water and nutrients.

Too many rock roses in the vineyard

This is totally different from life-forms such as grasses, plants, flowers or thistles, which are annuals (ie die off and decompose within the year), have short roots and don't directly compete with the vines.

So, there's no doubt about it in my mind. They have to go! But how? Having renounced the use of chemical weapons of mass destruction, I will just have to uproot them all by hand! By crouching down and/or bending over, then grabbing and pulling.

I can feel the pain already - all those muscles that I don't normally use, in my feet, bum, back, hands and fingers!!!

So the plan of action is one or two days of mobilization of muscle power (situps, pressups, toestands, ankle rotations, hand and finger exercises, etc) then launch a counter-attack on the rock roses.

They're everywhere

Rock Roses invading Garnacha vineyard

I hope to be done in one or two days!

Happy New Year, btw :)

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