Not only about Wine

Composting

Out compost programme has grown tremendously. We now produce an estimate 100 cubic metres of compost a year. We collect horse and quail manure from one of the neighbours as well as coffee grinds and vegetable waste from various restaurants in town weekly. We turn the heaps regularly and our own chickens and geese help to keep the system healthy. The manures and coffee serve as a nitrogen source for the compost system.

We receive plenty of brown material from vineyard prunings, olive prunings and alien vegetation clearing. The houses on the farm have wormeries where earthworms consume 70% of our household organinc waste. The remainder of the household organic waste goes to our bokashi bins where bacteria consumes anything organic and in turn produces beautiful compost.

Birds do it… Bees do it…

We have many hives on the farm. The bees collect pollen from the many different herbs, indigenous shrubs and flowers in the gardens and serve to pollinate not only in the gardens, but the olive groves and fruit orchards as well. The diversity in plant species also serves to attract many small bird species to the farm, which in turn helps to control insects and spread seeds. Planting Fynbos around vineyards also acts as natural nomadic housing for these little allies.

Insecticides are only used on Roses, but because of the healthy environment and companion planting, this is needed much less frequently than before and we can now rely on Ludwig’s natural and environmentally friendly sprays.

Keeping it clean

We use a specialised bacterium to combat Kalander, European wasps and olive beetle.

As bacteria only works on socialising insects living in colonies it is applied to wasp nests in the olive groves and vineyards. It feeds on the hard outer shell of the insects and systematically infects and kills the whole nest. In vineyards we no longer spray curatively for Mealy bug  with the poisonous substance, Dursban. We now release pernicious wasps and ladybirds to help combat the Mealy bug. The small, indigenous insects are shipped to us from Durban in little boxes which contain thousands of eggs. We hang these boxes in the vineyard where the eggs hatch resulting in an explosion of little combat ready insects. We make 5 releases per season.

We have removed alien plants from the forest and are adding new indigenous plants and trees to this and other areas of the farm every season. We are keeping a close eye on the quality and quantity of the water on the Blaauwklippen and Moordenaarskloof Rivers and hope that the restructuring of the plant life in this area will also lessen the pressure on these ecologically sensitive water courses. It is wonderful to see how the face of the farm and the general health of the flora in general have changed in a very short time. This together with the growing bird and wildlife on the farm makes the effort that goes into the process of creating a truly sustainable and the healthy environment all the more worth while.

Although we believe that we have come a long way we are fully aware of the fact that this is a long-term project that will have to be developed and sustained for as long as we are fortunate enough to be the curators of this patch of beautiful land.

Baddies

Even when everything else goes into hibernation, the European wasps don’t seem to notice that they were not welcome in the first place and still hang around. They have become a real threat to the natural eco system on many farms in the Western Cape and are a threat to human beings, animals and insects alike. They do not collect pollen, but are carnivores and thus do not pollinate, but threaten our indigenous honeybees and other “helpful and good” insects. We have all been stung various times during the past months. Unlike the honeybee, they do not die after having stung their prey. The sting burns and itches for days after.

These little monsters make their nests underground from where they prey on their unsuspecting victims. The only way to get at them without exterminating everything else is by taking out the nest early in the morning while they are still cold and lethargic and burning it.

 

"The diversity in plant species also serves to attract many small bird species to the farm, which in turn helps to control insects and spread seeds."