Tag Archives: vineyard

Removing Caltrop from your vineyard

Removing Caltrop from your vineyard

Caltrop (Tribulus terrestrilus) can also be called bindi eye, GG’s, Cats head

Removing Caltrop, an obligate summer grower in the Swan Valley area, so it will only appear after summer rains. In some years it is really bad, in others it will not be seen. There are also several similar native species, but these generally have less spiny fruits.

Eradication is essential, and vigilance against introduction is critical.

Readily controlled by herbicides in most situations, as few other pasture plants are alive at the same time, and selective control is easy in lawns and grass pasture. It generally grows too low to mow, but could be controlled by solarising.
It is definitely a plant against which an eradication campaign is worth mounting. Incidentally, the original caltrop was a weapon of war – an iron device with four tetrahedral prongs that was strewn in the path of enemy horses. Which ever way it fell, one prong was always upright, ready to lame the horse.

Charming – but walk on the plant with bare feet and you will agree that it has been well named!

Removing Caltrop
Harvested Caltrop

Caltrop in an Organic Vineyard.

Occasionally, Duncan finds some caltrop in the vineyard. It grows after summer rains and we have had a few showers this year.

In row three in the shiraz plantings, right in the middle of the row, was a larger plant 800mm diameter, with lots of dried seeds besides some 20 other smaller plants.

What is an organic vigneron to do? He can not use herbicide.

A wheel barrow, pair of snips and a dust pan and broom is all required besides some patience.  Watch the video to get a better idea of what we do.

Firstly, spot the bright verdant green caltrop plant in the late afternoon sun. Using the snips cut the tap root, then lift the plant carefully and remove it to the wheel barrow. Then with the dust pan and broom sweep up all the loose sand and seeds from the plant area. Most dried seeds are within a hand span of the crown.

The removing caltrop job is nearly done.

Next is the hard part, walk all the rows to check for other plants, then return in two weeks to check for new plants again before the Autumn rains.

https://youtu.be/KWNBlK5hMqo another video.

You may ask, what do you do with the contents of the wheel barrow? Duncan puts it in the waste bin for the local tip to compost it. Once he tried to burn the plants. The local authorities saw the smoke and believed that a conflagration was occurring.

Questions & Answers – Interview

Questions & Answers

How long have you been operating Harris Organic Winery?

We invited Duncan Harris to give some questions and answers about his venture into winemaking.  He purchased the property in 1998. He has always grown organic grapes and made organic wine, however, only became certified by ACO in 2006. Prior to  him  purchasing the property the land had 13 years of rest as the vines were removed in 1985. The Baskerville property was sold by the original owners who held it from the 1920’s in approximately 1985.

Obviously you grow organic grapes, do you grow anything else or are you a mono crop?

I grow lupins, sour sobs, turnip, radish, vetch and grasses of varying kinds between the 30 rows of vines. I use these plants to create green manure. That is there’s a lot of goodness in the plants, I chop it up and turn it into the soil which provides nutrients to the soil. In the summer time I grow watermelons, and pumpkins. I also have olives and oranges growing in the orchard.

Organic wines
Organic wines

Do you do companion planting?

Yes and No. I plant lupin which produce nitrogen for the soil. There are nodules on their roots which are released to the soil microbes and plant roots to use. I grow it and harvest the seed for the following year. The plants take in carbon dioxide and produces cellulose, a carbon based material, which in turn returns carbon to the soil.

Do you sell anything other than wine?

Yes, certified organic vodka and an un-oaked brandy I call eau de vie and three year old wood aged vintage brandy.

Have you ever had a year wine where you didn’t have any grapes to harvest? No, the Swan Valley is a most congenial place to grow grapes.

Swan Valley vines
Organic vineyard

How long does it take to create wine from beginning to end?

From the planting of the grapes it takes 7 years for the best vintage wines. You can get a crop of grapes in 18 months but it’s not very good for high quality wine. From the picking of the grapes to the bottling of the wine can take anything from nine months to two years.

I grow 24 madeleine vines that produce delicious table grapes that go to organic retailers between Christmas and New Year. If you keep the grapes in a cool room they can last up to a month.

What do you do to manage pests?

I employ a variety of techniques. Chooks help to manage the weevils and other soil based bugs, usually the larva of such and we love the spiders in our vineyard – they eat some of the bugs and some of the bugs eat them! They also catch lots of different flies.

What are some sprays a conventional grower could use on their crops? Any known side effects? Ask Monsanto about herbicide resistance and residue levels in domestic animals and humans!

Would you personally ever drink conventional wine?

There are lots of conventional wines I have tried. This gives a good basis to understand what good wines are available in particular styles. All part of a good education!

What kind of nasties can you find in there? Heavy Metals?

See our page on additives:
Wine Additives and the mean residual level in the grapes can be found here: Some of the greatest users of chemicals is the table grape industry. Poisons

What do you use to preserve the wine? There are natural preservatives in wine, they being alcohol, tannin and sulphur dioxide (SO2). SO2 is added to keep the wine fresh, clean and clear appearance in the bottle and give it longevity. Australian Organic standards allow up to 150 ppm SO2 even more in dessert wines.

Question: Do you have any preservative free wine?

What does this entail?

I have unique preservative free dessert wines, mainly Pedro Ximenez and Tokay made from muscadelle grapes. These are preserved by the sugar and alcohol in the wine. The winemaking process is a slow natural process to make a ‘real” tasty natural dessert wine.

Question: Have you seen much growth in the organic wine market?

The organic industry continues to grow, promoted by the amount of exports to other countries, including the USA and EU.

Question: If you turn back time would you do anything differently?

No, just keep learning from my mistakes.

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