Sunday, August 31, 2014

Trimming the vines

This is the back end of a vineyard tractor fitted with a spray attachment. You can see how the tractor is built to ride up over the tops of the vine rows. The spray nozzles are directed at the sides of the vines to ensure complete coverage. Some of the nozzles on this sprayer are folded in against the top of the tractor. When he's spraying, the grower swings those nozzles out to the sides so he can spray nearly five rows with each pass. The whole thing in action looks like some kind of alien creature.

The cutting machine sounds a little like Edward Scissorhands doing his thing.

This time, however, the grower is not spraying. On the front end of his tractor is another attachment that holds half a dozen or more rotating blades. As he plies the rows, the spinning blades cut long vine stems from the sides and tops of the plants without touching the precious grape bunches hanging below. If I'm not mistaken, this is a parcel of sauvignon blanc grapes.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

All is not lost

Even with the blight taking out much of our tomato crop, I still managed to pick a good-sized basket of tomatoes on Friday. They're mostly not finished ripening, so we've put them in paper bags with apples to help them along. If I left them on the vine to ripen, they'd probably succumb. The cucumbers are doing very well; I picked four of them yesterday. And the green beans have been wildly successful.

We got 4 or 5 of these potimarrons (red kuri squash). They have a nice chestnutty flavor.

The three sisters garden plot is okay. There are winter squash, but not as many as I thought there would be. That's probably just as well since we still have three squash in the cellar from last year's crop. The corn stalks have ears, but they look rather small. The climbing beans are producing, too.

The Swiss chard is amazing. We've had one harvest already and there is plenty more out there. The peppers have set fruit, so it's up to the weather as to how well they do. The eggplants are not so good, with leaves dropping off. Some of them have blossoms and there are a couple of tiny eggplants. But, like with the peppers, it's all up to the weather now.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sad tomatoes

This is, I think, what tomato blight looks like. Our wet summer has been particularly cruel to the home gardener's tomato crop. We've heard from a lot of people about how their tomatoes are pourries (rotten) this year. Many gardeners have destroyed their whole crop to keep the fungus from spreading. Still, I see some gardens around the neighborhood with gorgeous tomato plants, probably part luck and part diligent preventative care.

You can see how the blight affects the stem and leaves of the tomato plant. Yuck.

We've still got some healthy tomatoes, so we're hanging in there and destroying infected fruit. I dumped a 20-liter bag of rotten tomatoes into the garbage can last week. So sad. The blight shows up in the leaves first, then moves into the stems. When fruit forms, the fungus quickly infects it as well.

Two infected tomatoes before I removed them. The stem to the left is completely brown.

I read about blight and there's not a lot a home gardener can do once it sets in. The best measures are preventative: remove infected plants at the first sign of the fungus (I didn't  do that),  bag or burn infected leaves, plants, and fruit, and spray bouillie bordelaise (a copper sulfate mix) on the plants before blight appears (I didn't do that, either).

I usually rotate the crops around the garden plots so that I'm not growing the same thing in the same place every year. That will be especially important next year. I will also have to be vigilant about removing volunteers and removing excess leaves from the plants to allow a good air flow. I will also use bouillie bordelaise or some other anti-fungal treatment early in the season to help keep the blight at bay.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Throwback Thursday

When I was a kid in the 1960s and 70s, my family did a lot of camping in the summertime. We never went too far from home, usually to campgrounds in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. After I left home I stopped going. My first apartment out on my own was camping enough, I suppose. It wasn't until the late 1980s that I started to go camping again, this time in California. Ken was reluctant at first, but he got into the spirit and came to enjoy sleeping in a tent on the ground. We did a lot of camping in Northern California, in the mountains, on the coast, and in the Southern California deserts (including two camping trips in Death Valley). We also ventured into Nevada and Utah at one point.

The truck belonged to a friend of Sue's from Nevada who came along with us.

It was our friend Sue who got us into it, at first letting us borrow her old tent and sharing her camping supplies. It wasn't long before we had our own tent (which we still have) and collection of camping gear for our trips. This photo is from around 1988 or 1989. We were with Sue in the Tuolumne Meadow campground at Yosemite. The mornings were chilly up at that altitude (about 2,600 meters or 8,600 feet) and we enjoyed warming up with our morning coffee next to the campfire.

We did a lot of hiking on that trip and spent a day down in Yosemite Valley. We also enjoyed cooking dinners and eating and drinking (we always took a good supply of wine on camping trips) and star-gazing late into the night. Good times.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Make tracks, part two

This small field was mowed a few weeks ago. Now the grasses are growing back, but you can clearly see the tracks that the tractor made when it pulled the mower over the previously tall growth. The grasses, wildflowers, and small shrubs were waist-high before they were cut down.

Tractor tracks in the grass.

Our temperatures are on a slow upward trend. I'm really hoping that as we move into September we'll get better weather. Of course, the south of France is having sunny skies with highs in the 80s F. That must be where summer is spending it's vacation this year.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Make tracks

Certain sections on the edges of certain vineyard parcels have a tendency to collect water and drain slowly. Consequently, the ground can be a little soft and the growers' tractors leave deep ruts between the rows of vines. When the ruts finally dry out, the clay mud starts to crack.

Deep tracks made by heavy tractors on soggy ground.

Today, however, this track will have become a puddle once again. It's rained most of the night; not torrential rain, but a steady light rain. With the damp weather, I'm not hopeful for our tomato crop. The blight has taken hold and we're losing fruit. It seems to be affecting the large tomato plot much more than the smaller one, so we may get some more good tomatoes. There's nothing we can do now but wait it out and remove infected fruit. The fungus is destroying the stems as well, so they'll also have to go. Not into the compost (where the fungus can survive), but into bags for the dump or into a burn pile. Still, we had enough ripe tomatoes to make five containers of tomato sauce for the freezer yesterday.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Release the hounds!

On Sunday morning I went out with Callie for our usual morning walk through the vineyards. As we made our way, I started hearing some serious dog barking off in the distance. It got louder and more raucous as we walked. Callie heard it, too, and was interested. Then I heard men shouting and horns blowing down in the ravine next to the vines. It sounded like some kind of medieval battle, but there was no clanging of swords.

If you look closely, you might see a single strand of a spider's web between the stem and the tendril.

Turns out that it was une battue, an organized hunt. I could see hunters' cars stationed along the road through the vineyards in the distance and the hunters standing by with guns, waiting for the pack of hounds to flush their prey from the woods. Callie and I turned back and headed for home. The hunt went on for a couple of hours and eventually the hunters gathered right outside our back gate. We've seen them let the hounds dip in the pond to clean off before they get loaded back in their trucks. It's quite a sight -- those dogs are huge! But this time they got a call from another hunter and sped off to pick up the pack on the other side of the woods.

The season for foxes and roe deer opened back in June, but from what I can tell, they can only be hunted by organized, licensed groups, not by individuals. I suspect that this was a fox hunt because I recognized a couple of the guys from a previous fox adventure a few years ago. The regular hunting season (for rabbits and game birds) doesn't open until later this fall.

Here is another grape vine tendril. This one hasn't found anything to curl around yet. It's still reaching. It's been a while since the vines have been trimmed and the tendrils are doing their thing. We're supposed to have rain again, so I doubt any trimming will be done in the next few days. It's more likely that spraying will happen (again) to help prevent mildew. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if there's one more trim before harvest time.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

August blahs

We're trying to make the best of this lousy August weather. I blanched a sizable harvest of green beans on Saturday and packed them into the freezer. Ken incorporated what may be our last zucchini into our lunch; the plants have more or less stopped producing. The vegetable garden thinks it's fall. I'm keeping it watered (between rain events) in the hope that the pepper and eggplant blossoms will become fruit. We've picked tomatoes, but there are many more green ones still on the vine. I'm hoping for some sunny weather to help them along. And while the corn stalks have developed ears, they're still pretty small.

Colorful grape vine tendrils. As fall approaches, there should be some nice color developing out there.

The cucumbers seem happy, as do the green beans, and there are a number of winter squash on the ground. Add to that the beautiful crop of chard that we're about to start picking and we can say that we've had a successful season. But it certainly doesn't measure up to some of the better gardens we've had in the last ten years. I find myself planning for next spring's planting.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Wild thing

Here are some more of the ubiquitous carotte sauvage (wild carrot, or Queen Anne's Lace) that is the dominant wildflower out around the vineyards right now. This pink one is growing up through a more common white one. I don't know if the pink one is a different variety or just a newly opening flower head that hasn't turned white yet.

More wild carrot. They're everywhere! Too bad they're not very good to eat.

Summer vacations are ending for schoolkids and adults alike. The television news is filled with stories about people packing up and heading home this weekend, sad little faces saying good-bye to summer friends, the start of another school year, and people readying themselves to head back to work and to the gray skies of Paris. Not to mention all the predictions of horrible traffic in all of the usual places.

None of that for us retired folks. We just keep puttering in the garden, continuing our harvest and processing the produce. We're hoping for une belle arrière-saison (indian summer) since the actual summer kind of petered out at the beginning of August.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Blue sky

Sort of. There's not much to recommend weather-wise this August. We're having October temperatures. And the first half of the month saw more rain than we normally get in a whole month. When the sun shines, it feels like a crisp fall day. If there's no wind. Thankfully, the past few days have been calm with some sun and we've been able to spend pleasant afternoons on the deck.

It still looks like summer, but it's starting to feel like fall. I can tell that the days are getting shorter.

Today I have garden chores to do. There are beans to pick and tomatoes to gather. I've also got to water some now that the surface soil has dried out. We have a bounty of peaches (from a neighbor) and plums (that Ken gathered from trees that no one is tending). Yesterday, Ken pitted the plums and froze them for use later making pies and other things. I'll probably make a peach tart today or tomorrow. And we may be ready to make our first batch of tomato sauce for the freezer this weekend.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday

This week I didn't forget Thursday. The year was 1987. Ken and I had moved to San Francisco the year before and a friend was visiting us from Washington, DC. We hit a lot of the tourist destinations (we were still exploring, too) and on this particular day we headed over the Golden Gate Bridge to Muir Woods in Marin County.

Walt and Ken at the base of a very old redwood tree.

It's a beautiful park nestled in a foggy coastal valley and filled with redwood trees. The woods are eerily quiet, a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the city just a few miles away. If you're ever in the Bay Area, I recommend a visit.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


We had a lovely lunch on the deck Tuesday with some friends. It was so nice to be able to sit on the deck and be comfortable; mostly sunny, no wind, warm(ish). We ended up having the whole meal outside. I actually remembered to take some photos of the apéro and starter courses, but then totally forgot the camera for the rest of the meal. Oh well, too much fun!

Finger food: deep-fried zucchini hushpuppies with a curry dipping sauce.

We started out with zucchini hushpuppies. They're a cornmeal batter with finely grated zucchini mixed in, then deep-fried to a golden brown and served with an Indian-style curry sauce. The original recipe uses chickpea flour and it's good, but this twist with cornmeal works well.

Summer salad of garden cucumber and tomato with sheep's feta and fresh basil, dressed with balsamic vinegar.

Our entrée (starter course) was made with produce from our vegetable garden: chopped cucumber and tomato with cubes of feta-style cheese, topped with a chiffonade of basil and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Tasty! After that we had a bolognese lasagna followed by a salad of our garden green beans with shallot and tomato in a vinaigrette dressing. Our guests brought a fantastic blackberry and apple crumble topped with an English custard for dessert.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Through the woods

During one of our recent morning walks, Callie heard something and bolted after it into the woods next to one of the vineyard parcels we walk around. I never saw what she was chasing, but I assume it was a chevreuil (roe deer). I followed her into the woods and could hear her barking ahead. This patch of woods is one that Callie knows well as we walk through it often; the path through leads to where the Artsy Organized Neighbor keeps his piles of stuff and continues on to another familiar vineyard parcel that we walk around frequently.

Ferns love to grow in dark, damp, woodsy places.

On the way through, I walked by this clump of fougères (ferns) next to a pile of branches (no doubt stacked by the A.O.N.). Nearby was a small pile of large stone or concrete squares, maybe paving stones of some kind. I didn't take a picture of those. Yet.

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's starting

Some of the grapes out in the vineyards are beginning to turn red. The red ones, that is. I think these are côt (also known as malbec) grapes, but they could be gamay. I'm not sure. There are three red varietals grown in our area, the third being cabernet franc. By looking at the leaves, I don't think these are cabernet grapes (I compare them with internet images to try to figure it out).

The grapes are starting to ripen.

I had a hard time sleeping early this morning. I was awake between 3:30 and 5:00. The air was still and a little stuffy, even with the window open. This morning is overcast (where'd that sun go?), so that may be the reason.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The cucumber tree

This year's experiment with the cucumber tree has been moderately successful. Once I got the cucumber seeds to germinate (next time I'll start them in pots indoors), I was able to train them up on the supports. The tripod I built was not the best support for them, even after I wrapped it in twine to give the vines more to cling to. So I'll have to go with a more traditional support system the next time.

Cukes growing on the vine. The lush greenery around them is cilantro, which has flowered and is going to seed.

Also, the fruit is not as straight as I expected it to be from hanging. One reason for that is the variety of cucumber, I suppose. I would like to find seeds for what's called the English cucumber (the fruit of which is what you always get in French supermarkets), but I have yet to see them in the garden centers. Still, all six of my plants have climbed and they are producing. In fact, we ate the first cucumber this week, sliced and dressed in yogurt with fresh tarragon. Tasty! I'm looking forward to more.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A hard row to mow

It's Saturday and we're expecting a sunny day. It's actually predicted to be sunny for the next week, but it will not be hot. We're barely supposed to get up over 20ºC (not quite 70ºF) in the foreseeable future. Summer has abandoned us for warmer climes.

The grower who tends these vines mows between the rows to help control weeds.

Today is also the last day for our bread delivery for two weeks. The woman who delivers the bread is going on her vacation (hopefully someplace warmer) until the end of August. It's not a problem for us since it gives us a chance to use up frozen bread, make some of our own, and sample bread from other bakeries around us.

Friday, August 15, 2014


Remember the "pineapple in drag" a few days ago? A friendly reader let me know that it's called knapweed, or centaurée in French. They resemble thistles, but have no spines. In fact, I often see these wildflowers growing side by side with thistles, along with wild carrot and chicory.

Knapweed in bloom, with a few wild carrot thrown in. I toned down some of the background to make the flowers stand out.

Out in the vineyards behind our house there are many plots of land that are just fields between vine parcels. They are left untended mostly, but are sometimes mowed once during the year. In these plots, the tall grasses and wildflowers dominate, making for nice splashes of color all summer long. They also seem to make good habitats for insects, rodents, and other little critters.

Thursday, August 14, 2014


Millet is a grain that is most commonly grown in Africa as food. I've eaten it many times and really like it, but it's not a common grain here in Europe. We've found millet in specialty stores from time to time and buy it when we can. Most of the millet grown in France is used in bird seed and poultry feed.

The field down the hill from our hamlet, close to the river, is planted in millet this year.

I was surprised to learn that the grain they're growing down in the field below our hamlet is millet. Normally they grow either wheat or rape seed (colza) down there. This year there's a different plant, so I took these photos and used the internet to help me identify it. Turns out it's millet.

A close up of the seed head of the aptly-named broom, or common, millet.

The variety is called proso millet, broom millet, or common millet. It's not the variety normally grown for human consumption, but rather what will likely be sold for chicken feed. Literally.

P.S. Throwback Thursday is on vacation this week. Because, like, I totally forgot it was Thursday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Slugs in the trees

Who knew that slugs liked asparagus? And that they climbed? I saw a couple of these big orange slugs up in an asparagus plant out in the vineyard the other day. That's right, two in the same plant. They were munching away, if slugs can actually munch. You can see that this one had severed a stem and is in the process of consuming it.

This is what asparagus looks like if you let the stalks go into flower. Except for the slug.

I also noticed that there were at least three more slugs on the ground moving (slowly) in the direction of this patch of asparagus plants. I had to watch where I stepped.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tidying up

For some reason I was really productive on Monday. It started out simply, but before I knew it I was on a roll. I shoveled the dirt from mole hills and relocated it to some low spots in the yard. Then I picked up the apples that had fallen from the trees and dumped them into the compost pile. I did all this in preparation for cutting the grass, thinking I'd do that today.

This section of the South 40 is a pain to cut because of the shrubs and the winding rocky path. I'm slowly getting the shrubs under control again.

Then I found myself getting the mower out, just to do the south forty and the strips outside the hedge along the road (the rest of the weed patch lawn was still too wet to cut). Once that was done, I got out the weed-eater (which involves reeling out two long extension cords because it's electric) and whacked the tall grass and wild carrot from along the walkway borders. While I had the electric cords out, I thought I might as well get the hedge trimmer and even up a shrub that I had trimmed a little unevenly a couple weeks ago.

This is what it looked like before I cut it, with the lopsided shrub and rampant wild carrot.

I felt really good about getting all of that done. But after lunch I got my second wind and took the lawnmower out again and finished the whole yard. I figured that, since the grass was dry, it was the best time to cut it. It would only be wet again (from dew) on Tuesday morning. And we're expecting rain this afternoon and on Wednesday. There's no time like the present! So, with that done, all I have on my list for this morning is picking green beans.

The West 40 (with the vegetable garden) and the North 40 (in the back of the photo behind the apple trees) are cut, too!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hanging around

The grapes out in the vineyards continue to mature. There's still a long way to go until we see the harvesters, but one day later this fall, these grapes will likely become wine. I'm not at all sure what color these will be; I have still not mastered which leaf shapes belong to which varietal. And there are not enough leaves in the photo to do an accurate comparison with online images.

Sauvignon blanc? Gamay? Cabernet franc? Time will tell.

It's time to cut the weeds grass in the back yard. Wild carrot seems to be proliferating in certain sections, while other weeds wildflowers are popping up elsewhere. And don't even mention moles. Their hills are everywhere. I'll have to spend some time this morning shoveling mole dirt into the wheelbarrow. I relocate the dirt to low spots in other parts of the yard. Yes, it's a glamorous life I lead.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Glass of wine with tomato

I was messing around the camera settings on Saturday and took this picture. That green tomato on the table was a casualty of my pruning the other day. It may or may not turn red on the deck. At least the wine is red. In the late afternoon I heard the revving of gas engines (mowers and weed trimmers) along with ripping and cutting noises from down the road. I went out to investigate and ran into our neighbor from Blois. I asked her what all the noise was and she told me that the people in the house next door to her were cleaning up. Ils nettoient, she said, with a big smile on her face.

The sun was in and out during the day on Saturday.

Indeed, when I walked by their house later with Callie, a huge previously overgrown piece of their property had been whacked and mostly cleared. I'm sure the neighbors are happy because they're always talking about how vipères (European viper or adder) and other critters like to live in the overgrown brush. The people who did the cleaning don't live in the house year-round, but they spend a couple of weeks each summer there. My neighbor and I talked a little and then she invited me to gather plums from her yard. We chatted for a while about nothing in particular and picked up little yellow plums that had fallen from one of her trees (they're the really ripe ones). I came home with a nice basket full of them. I should make a tart today.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Periodic puppy pics

We had a lot of rain yesterday. It started in the late afternoon and it just poured. Il tombait des cordes, as they say. There was some wind, but nothing violent, lots of lightning and thunder, and, thankfully, no hail. About halfway through the deluge I went out to empty the rain gauge before it overflowed. We had twenty-five millimeters at that point, just about an inch of rain. Since then, we got an additional thirteen millimeters.

Callie in the vineyard on a recent sunny morning.

The vegetable garden came through well with no serious damage. Now it needs a chance to dry out. The sun is out this morning, but another system is out there off the Atlantic coast.

Friday, August 08, 2014

The first beans

Our green beans are starting to produce and I picked the first batch of the season on Wednesday. We steamed them and had them with lunch. Boy, were they delicious! I picked another bunch, a little more than these, again on Thursday. If all goes well, we should have a very good crop this year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Haricots verts (green beans) trimmed and rinsed, ready for the steamer.

We've been eating zucchini for a while now, but the plants are producing very slowly. I'm not sure why, but I had the same problem last year. I'm not using the same seeds from last year, so I know it's not that. I may change the way I plant them next year so I can weed around them more easily.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Not too far of a throwback this week. We're in September 2005 during my first trip back to the USA since moving to France. I spent the very last part of my trip with our friend Sue in California and we went camping in Yosemite for a couple of nights. We took a day-long hike up to Vernal Fall and back after which we rewarded ourselves with a couple glasses of wine at the Ahwahnee hotel.

Wine smoothed out the aches and pains of a day-long hike up steep trails.

Ken and I had been to Yosemite quite a lot while we lived in California, so this was not my first time there. We tent-camped up in the Crane Flat and Tuolumne Meadow campgrounds, stayed in a cabin down in the valley (and woke up to three feet of snow one morning), and went on a day trip or two (a long day from San Francisco). This was, however, the first time I stayed in a tent-cabin in the valley.

We stayed in one of these tent cabins.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Here comes the rain again

Most of today's forecast rain is north of us, but we're expecting scattered showers through the afternoon. I've already used most of the water we collected from the last showers a few days ago, so I'm hoping we get enough to replenish the rain barrels again.

I think this flower looks like a pineapple in drag. Fabulous!

I didn't find the part I wanted for my weed trimmer after going to two of our local hardware stores yesterday. Ken's going out later and will stop at a third, but I'm not hopeful. I'll have to buy the part on the internet, I think.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

New vines, part two

Here's a view of the newly planted grape vine parcel nestled in the larger vineyard. This is a morning shot, looking easterly into the sunrise. Our house is not visible; it's hidden by the trees on the left.

In a few years the gap will fill in and the new vine parcel will be indistinguishable from the older ones.

Today is a day for errands. I need gasoline for the lawnmower. Then I want to stop at a local winery and fill up on some red wine. Finally, I need to go to the hardware store to find a replacement spool for my débroussailleuse (weed-whacker/weed-eater/strimmer). One of the plastic tabs that holds it all together snapped last week while I was using it, so I need a whole new spool. I hope I can find the right one.

Monday, August 04, 2014

New vines

This is the larger of the two new vineyard parcels in our neighborhood. This one replaces a plot of older vines that were diseased, the other is all new. The grower who owns this plot is a large producer and employs people to help maintain the vineyards. He and his wife (she's a certified oenologist) make and market their own wines. The smaller plot is owned by a guy who's mostly a one-man operation (along with his wife at certain times of the year) and who sells most of his grapes to a cooperative for the wine making.

I counted about 40 rows of new grape vines in this parcel. You can see how rocky the soil is; good for grapes!

All the vines are grafted on to hearty root stocks, and at this stage in their growth the graft is quite visible (although maybe not in this picture). I think it will be a few years before any grapes are harvested from these new parcels. It will be fun to watch them grow. I'm sure you are curious, but I don't know which varietal this is; I need to ask one day.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Just a little off the side

Remember when I told you that the grape growers use contraptions with spinning blades to trim the grape vines in summer? Callie and I saw one in action yesterday. I didn't have the camera with me, but here's an earlier picture of what the trimmed vines look like next to some that hadn't yet been trimmed.

This is not where we saw the trimmer in action, but you can still see the effect.

We got a little rain yesterday, but I haven't yet been outside to see how much. We're expecting some more today. That'll water the garden and refill our near-empty rain barrels.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

High summer

August is vacation month in France. It's the month that, chances are, will be warmer than any other during the year. People head to the beaches in August and hope for the best, especially in the north. Most of the agriculture that goes on around us is in maintenance mode, except for early crops of grains and hay that have been harvested and bailed already. The wine grapes are developed and will begin to ripen in the coming weeks.

The underside of a wild carrot flower head.

The carotte sauvage (wild carrot), called Queen Anne's Lace in English, is flowering profusely all around us. For me, it's a marker of high summer. Our vegetable garden is maturing and we've begun harvesting courgettes (zucchini). Green beans are forming and we have an abundance of green tomatoes that, along with the grapes, will be ripening during the warm days of August. At least, we hope they will be warm.

Queen Anne's Lace thrives among the grape vines in high summer.

Friday, August 01, 2014


At several times during the year, we can see the growers plying their rows of grape vines with big sprayers attached to tractors. I think they're spraying to prevent mildiou (mildew and other fungus) from attacking the leaves and vines. The solution used most often is called bouillie bordelaise (Bordeaux mixture) which is made with copper sulfate. You can see a blueish tint on the leaves after the vines have been treated, until rain washes it away. Then it's time to spray again.

Spraying in the vineyards behind our house. We steer clear of the "fog" when walking out there. I used a telephoto lens for this shot.

I'm not sure, but I don't think that other pesticides are used out there, aside from herbicidal treatments to keep the weeds down. Many growers rely on herbicides, but some of the growers around us are "organic" and don't use herbicides at all. They plow and sometimes mow between rows of grape vines to control weeds. I'm sure there are books full of regulations concerning what growers can and can't do in the vineyard and when.