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Stories from the valley

A Thousand Feet of Hedgerow

Contributed by Tim Johnson

The giveback at the vineyard this year will be to the bees. Not just any bees, but the native bumblebees and smaller iridescent Halictid bees we find on the wildflowers that grow between the vine rows. The hedgerow will contain a mix of native plants that will provide additional habitat and forage for these often overlooked residents. 

Grapes self–pollinate, so bees are not a big thing in the crop life cycle. None the less they are always about, feeding on the filaree and clover early in the Spring and then move on to other food as the season progresses. The idea of the hedgerow is to provide enhanced habitat by utilizing the cultivated area of the ranch for their benefi

The first step is to disc the soil and remove any weeds that came up this winter. 

Next, we put down weed cloth to make sure the small plants we receive will thrive without too much weed competition.

Finally, we installed a drip system that we will use for the next three or so years that will help establish the hedgerow. After that they should be able to sustain themselves. 

Now we were ready to plant the small plant plugs provided by NCAT, a nonprofit whose mission is to help build sustainable communities and protect natural resources. 

We will tend the hedgerow as we go about our vineyard work just as we do our vines, irrigating and weeding, as needed to sure the young plants get a good start. 

If we are diligent we should have a three to twenty foot hedge row in several years that provides that extra boost to the bees we see between the vines.