Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mustard In The Vineyards

I was up in Napa this past weekend and noticed great beauty in the now dormant vineyards. The mustard undergrowth is blooming a brilliant yellow! At first I thought it was just a weed with a fortunate feature, but soon realized that the mustard was not growing everywhere like an unwanted weed would. It seemed to be isolated to the vineyards.

I asked around and learned that it does indeed have a purpose (other than looking beautiful in the middle of winter). Mustard blooms in late January and early February, and provides a habitat for birds and animals who feed on vineyard pests. Additionally, the root system of the mustard allows nutrients to be absorbed more readily into the soil, which in turn help the vineyard. Once buds break in spring, the mustard is cut back so as not to take too much water away from the vines.

Usefulness aside, color in winter is a nice treat.

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