Vol. 1, No. 3 April, 2002
In this issue Ed Popham, who is interested in organic growing, has very kindly
offered to include a piece on Organic Farming. We are hoping to include in future
issues a section called the Organic Cornerif Ed can be arm-twisted into contributing
a regular piece on that subject.
Well....what about that snow! I guess we thought winter was over and spring had begun. But I can remember some past March's with snow, though it was usually a single fall and didn¹t keep coming like this lot. I thought for a while we had made a mistake about the name of this month. I suppose the only assumption we can make about the weather is that it s unpredictable. There's more.... Sci. News reports evidence that a new El Nino seems to be gearing up to begin again this year in late Summer and early Fall. Of course we still don't know exactly what this will mean in terms of our winter weather in this region. But I think it can be safely said that the weather next winter possibly might be warmer than "Normal"(whatever that means). On the other hand, it might be cooler, or more dry or wetter. Take your pick, but don¹t count on it.
I recently came across a small book in my library called Country Winesby Mary Aylett. The writing is philosophical, and I thought there might be some reader-interest in a few quotes from it, as well as the odd sketch. We are also including this time a brief excerpt from the first draft of John Schreiner's forthcoming book (no title yet) on wines. It is from a section in the book on grape-growing regions in the Gulf Islands.
This issue of the Graper will cover a rather busy time. What is happening
with the vines is predicated by the amount of heat we get and the amount of
precipitation. Dormant oil sprays and soil analysis should have been completed
by now. If you are adding lime be sure to get it down as early as possible so
the winter/spring rains can wash it in, and also so that when you apply your
fertilizers it doesn't bind to the lime.
Prepare for fertilizer application. Those who are adding nitrogen should apply it on a day when it looks like rain or while it is raining, as it tends to blow off into the atmosphere if it is sunny. In our climate there are a few things to note about plant nutrition. As our soils are quite waterlogged they do not warm rapidly and as a result there may be an apparent lack of nutrients during the early growth stages. Magnesium and to a lesser extent potassium uptake seem to be slowed by the cool soil temperatures.
The Organic Corner
Here is Ed Popham's first offering below*. It is a good reminder about what
we are all trying to achieve in our farm operations, with various degrees of
The heart of organic farming is the objective of sustainability in its widest sense. It encompasses not just the conservation of non-renewable resources of soil energy and minerals, but also issues of environment, economic and social sustainability. The term "organic" is best thought of as referring to the concept of the farm as an organism, in which all of the component parts: soil minerals, organic matter, micro-organisms, plants, animals and humans interact to create a coherent and stable whole.
The key characteristics of organic-farming include:
(a) protecting the long term fertility of soils by maintaining organic levels,
encouraging soil biological-activity and careful mechanical
(b) providing crop nutrients indirectly using relatively insoluble nutrient sources which are made available to the plant by the action of soil micro-organisms.
(c) nitrogen self-sufficiency through the use of legumes and biological nitrogen fixation, as well as effective recycling of organic materials,
including crop residues and livestock manures.
(d) weed, disease and pest control relying primarily on crop rotations, natural predators, diversity, organic manuring, resistant varieties and
limited thermal, biological, and chemical intervention.
(e) attention to the impact of the farming system on the wider environment and the conservation of wildlife and natural habitat.
The Philosophy of Wine
The making of fermented drinks is largely a preoccupation with a living substance.
It is intimately connected with the natural life of mankind and the recurrent
cycle performed is that of a living entity. To make the best wines, and it is
rooted in the nature of man to want to make the best he can of what he undertakes,
will refer man back to this essential mystery. He must search about to get his
raw materials in the finest condition, and for this he must make some contact
with the living world and, if possible, must grow fruit himself. He must study
the weather and learn to judge of the effect of it upon growing
things. He must take the fruits of the earth at Nature¹s time, ferment them at temperatures natural to them and not made by himself. He must learn to wait while they mature, and judge them by human, not social, standards, and to take his reward in the pride of achievement and not in cash.
It is because brewing has within itself all these elements of the eternal human mystery that it can become an absorbing passion; certain people find in it just that release from mechanized living for which they have been consciously or unconsciously seeking.
-from: Country Wines, by Mary Aylett;
Odhams Press Ltd., London, 1953.
Quote of the Month: "Hard work pays off in the future.
Laziness pays off now".....anon.
The Gulf Islands
Even with agriculture history to draw on, the winegrowers face challenges unique to the islands, from finding enough irrigation water to ripening grapes in vineyards chilled by cool sea breezes. Because this is a new wine region, vineyard and winery supplies are not easily available. The owners of the three wineries being developed on Salt Spring intend to share such equipment as the bottling line, wherever practical. On the sparsely populated islands, there is a shortage of vineyard workers and too few residents to drink all the wine that is made.......from John Schreiner
More On Red Wine
Wine dissolves behavioural inhibitions, but it may also inhibit a problem
substance in the blood, says a report in Science News (Jan.5, 02). Too
much of a substance called ET-1, normally produced by cells lining the walls
of blood vessels, can become a problem by constricting the vessels, causing
heart disease by making it harder for blood to flow. New evidence suggests a
substance in red wine can reduce the amount of ET-1 produced in the blood.
Scientists at the University of London set out to test whether drinking red wine might inhibit ET-1 production, thus reducing constriction of the vessels. They added various amounts of alcohol-free (to eliminate its effect) extracts of red wine to cows¹ blood-vessel cells. They found that the more extract the cells received, the less ET-1 they produced.
The effect could be caused, they report, by Polyphenols. Red grape-juice, however, had a less dramatic effect on ET-1 than the red wine extract. White and Rose¹ wines had no effect. A scientist, Peter Ganz, says this suggests a benefit specific to red wine, and this might make this drink especially good for the heart. (So......DRINK RED!)
The Graper is published regularly by the Vancouver Island Grape Growers'Association. We welcome articles, comments or questions from members and non-members. The deadline for receiving material is the first of the month in which the newsletter will be issued. Copy for inclusion in the Graper may be sent to the Editor via VIGGA contact information.