Caesar is taking things in strides at the Orchard Cottage. Having 3/4 Border Collie blood in his veins pretty much means he is 3/4 as active as a Border Collie. At just 9 weeks old I noticed his herding instincts whenever we are walking on grass. It’s good that he gets the message I don’t want him on my tucker beds.

I took him for a 45 minutes walk yesterday and that worn him out right away. After all, he was running and stopping and running and stopping. In the end, he was running and laying down and running and laying down. This is the puppy that learns how to run before he learns how to walk.

We have a minus 3.4 this morning. The mustards looks like they are ready to give up. I hope they do, then the blue lupins will have their opportunity to come through.

We are starting work on the vineyard now. In a bid to improve winter pruning efficiency, we are installing additional clips a hand span below the fruiting wire to hold the middle canopy wires. Doing so gets the middle canopy wires out of the way and allow pruning to fall off easily as now you only have to deal with the top canopy wires instead of both of them.

We’ll also trial some spur pruning this season on selected rows as we have been doing VSP all along. During the recent Bio Dynamic Conference 2012, I spoke to some winegrowers who swear by spur pruning. This method has its merits where it takes the wrapping of a new cane onto the fruiting wire out of the equation, thus making winter pruning faster. You can even do it with the barrel pruning machine, which essentially becomes a one person job. The argument against that however is that as the fruiting wood gets older, it will be a place for spores to reside in its cracks. In that, its a judgement call based on disease pressure in the area and vine health management. Ultimately, it is a cost saving measure and with the added benefit that bunches don’t develop secondary shoulders that ripens later than the primary bunch. My trials with the vineyard will be on the first row, last six rows, all end bays of the Okana Vineyard. I have a gut feeling that spur pruning on the end bays might have its plus.

I just finished reading Teaming with Microbes (Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis 2010) and How to Grow More Vegetables (John Jeavons 2002). Both are amazing books which I picked up from Kay Baxter’s recommendations.

It interesting how rototillers are invented based on the notion that plant roots have mouth to eat the soil, so you have to break the soil into fluff so that it is more edible, and thus enhance plant growth. However, every time we put the machine through or double dig the soil we disturb the soil structure which can be detrimental to the microbes living within it.

What alarms me is to find out that the current agricultural practice uses 16,000 sq ft to feed one person a year. However, the Biointensive method introduced by John Jeavons only utilize 4,000 sq ft per person. Talk about international food crisis. I also like the idea of hexagonal planting instead of tight inter-plant and wide inter-row spacing method. The Biointensive method is a combination of French intensive techniques (1700s-1800s) and Biodynamic techniques (1920s). It also claims that 100% sustainability is impossible based on the Second Law of Thermodynamics, all systems proceed toward a state of entropy or disorder, but instead strive for 99% sustainability, which ultimately means that one day, we will starve to death, just not as soon. However, the current method does not involved any Bio Dynamic preparations (incorporation of cosmic forces) at all, which I believe is the true essence in creating abundance. Still, for its growing method, its a book to be read and put to use.

Was the BD preparations taken out because it is meant to be a very logical method to ensure wide uptake and acceptance? That the incorporation of the forces will just put it as out there weirdo stuff? I personally felt that Biointensive method has bastardize Rudolf Steiner’s Bio Dynamic techniques reducing the philosophy to mere “holistic growing environment for plants”.

However, it is totally up to us to recombine both methods to try to achieve true sustainability and abundance. Intensive Bio Dynamic Agriculture perhaps.

Woot! Finally finished weeding my wildflowers meadow of grass! Its a forest in there, if I faint no one will find me for weeks. Quite a task indeed to wade through meadow, but it also allow me to get closer to the meadow, to the soil, and the life within. Look forward to doing it again next Winter.