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January 3, 2005

Turning the Rows

So another required task in preparation for vine planting is sub-soiling each row. What is sub-soiling? Essentially it is the cutting of a groove in the soil to break through the layer between topsoil and sub-soil. This layer is called the hardpan. This requires the use of an implement (aptly named) a sub-soiler, which connects to the back of the tractor and cuts the groove to a depth of 10" to 14" depending on how many rocks you happen to find. The purpose of breaking through the hardpan with mechanical implements means the young vines don’t have to break through it. This will allow the roots to reach deep into the sub-soil during the first year of growth, which is critical to establishing healthy root systems early, particularly in the absence of an irrigation system.

(OK quick time-out. I’m writing this entry from my hotel room in Delhi, India. I’m over here on a business trip, it’s 3AM and I’m jet-lagged as hell. So as I write this I have the India MTV on, and who should happen to appear but a band called Plumb who I mixed in 1997 while I was touring with Jars of Clay. Plumb was the opening act. Kind of weird to be writing my vineyard entries, and as soon as Tiffany sang the first line I knew the voice, looked up and said to the TV "nice to see you again.")

So back to farming - what is the process? As in all tasks at this stage of the game, "measure twice, cut once" is the credo. As we were laying out the rows, you may recall that we placed marking stakes at 100’ intervals. The purpose for this is to give a guide that one is to aim for on the tractor, in the hopes of cutting a perfectly straight row. But once I got out there and looked at each interval, it seemed to be too far a distance to ensure a straight path. Note the above statement about rocks – when you’re pulling the sub-soiler through the dirt it will invariably become hung up on large sub-surface rocks. This tends to push the tractor to one side or the other, causing irregular rows. So in order to minimize the irregularities, we opted to spray paint some lines in between the 100’ marks so I’d have some smaller intervals to aim for. Glad we did! They were a tremendous help and the rows turned out great. Incidentally, thanks to Ryan and Brandon Badura for the help in marking the rows. Good comedy – several times I’d turn around on the tractor to find them spray-painting each other...

Here's what it looks like when finished - check it out.

Posted by Stephen at January 3, 2005 8:17 AM

Comments

You know I never thought about this, but back in 96/97 (can't remember the year exactly) but my friend and I interviewed Plumb/Tiffany backstage at a concert for our webzine. Jars wasn't at that concert, but still-- close call! You and I were one degree of separation just a few years before we actually met...

And now, while I sing "It's a Small World After All" Tonya rolls her eyes and shields the children's ears...

Posted by: Rob at January 10, 2005 3:55 PM