Biodynamics: grapes, cows and new shoes

book coverBiodynamics is the new buzz-word in wine making and French wine producer Nicolas Joly of Coulée de Serrant vineyard is one of the strongest advocates of this super-organic growing system. In his book What Is Biodynamic Wine?: The Quality, the Taste, the Terroir Joly explains that only by putting back into the soil everything nature produces, and I mean everything, can vines can grow and wine be made in harmony with the earth’s rhythms.

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Vines love to be green

grapesReclaimed wastewater - domestic wastewater that has been filtered, treated and disinfected - is healthier for vines than fresh mains water according to a new study by The South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI). They found that soil irrigated with reclaimed water had fewer harmful pathogens and higher microbial activity than soil watered with mains water in a McLaren Vale vineyard.

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Best Shed boasts best wine

shedInstalling a wine rack in his shed will now be top of Glyn Harrison’s list of jobs to do at his Griffithstown allotment. Winning Best Shed category in the National Allotments Week’s (13th - 19th August) competitions, Glyn accepted bottles of Chilean sponsors Caliterra Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc wine as part of his prize.

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Vines may love Vivaldi

musicItalian scientists have discovered music helps grow healthier plants. The classical music of Mozart, Haydn, Vivaldi and Mahler relayed from an iPod to vines through 15 speakers was found to have a positive effect on shoot growth. Sangiovese grapes growing near the speakers had a greater number of leaves per vine than those growing in a silent area of the Tuscan vineyard Il Paradiso di Frassina.

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English grapes threatened by foreign foe

Harlequin ladybirdGardeners beware - harlequin ladybirds have been spotted in eastern-England. Unlike its British dark-red counterpart, the Asian Harmonia axyridis is no friend of fruit-growers. When frightened or attacked it drops a noxious smelling liquid. If it happens to be standing on a bunch of grapes or perry pears at the time these pick up the ‘ladybird taint’.

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Last legs for the rhubarb

rhubarbBolting rhubarb is not a good sign. The twenty year-old rhubarb patch in my neighbour’s allotment is showing all the evidence of being old and tired. Flower-heads are produced when a plant feels its life is threatened – a lack of water or nearing the end of its productive life are the most common reasons. But this is not a time to be down-hearted.

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Rocket Science

Rocket is a first-time and last-time gardener’s staple. A sprinkle from your watering can or a shower of rain will prompt this salad necessity to pop-up after only a few days.

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