One of the many lessons I've learned in growing grapes is that the vines love being in the mist of diversity. There are simply so many wonderful herbs, flowers and vegetables that aid and benefit both grapevine and companions alike.
As I've driven by and viewed several Texas Vineyards, I've often felt sad of sorts at the loneliness of the grapes growing all lined upped on the trellised wires. Usually I see them growing surrounded by a mat of weed barrier. Many times I've noticed an array of overhead sprinklers set up for irrigation.
Being the natural gardener that I am, my first thought of such sights are "how totally Houston Patio and Gardens." For those of you not familiar with this company, it is simply a pretty big retail nursery chain that sells potted plants and potted trees. All the big pots are lined up on black weed barrier with overhead sprinkler systems.
This might work well for a retail nursery chain, whose goal is to sell potted plants. But I don't find that so charming or much of a healthy habitat for plants and trees to grow throughout ones gardens.
Needless to say, hot on my list every year is to continue adding more grapevines and more companions to grow along with them. Many of the best things I've found to use are the Basil's. Not just plain ole Basil, but deliciously fun Basil's, like Lemon, Cinnamon, Lavender and Thai.
This year a special garden friend helped get me started with another fun Basil that is a Columnar. OH MY, I'm so excited about adding this one throughout the gardens since it can be pruned and trained to grow into a very productive sweet and tall column. It almost gives the effect of a topiary to the artistic gardeners eye.
My focus has been on adding more perennial herbs such as Rosemary, Oregano, Hyssop and Lemon Balm. For perks of color and the attraction of both pollinators and beneficial insects above ground and in the soil, I will add things such as Marigolds and Zinnias. Both which hold up fairly well to heat and occasional dry spells if kept mulched.
Some of my favorite vegetables to add is beautiful lettuces and bush beans. Both help keep weeds and grass to a minimum when planted properly. This usually means planting in a biointensive way where the leaves of each plant will touch it's neighboring plant keeping the ground below shaded. It's almost like creating a mini forest floor keeping the ground under a canopy.
So here I've found myself taking on a new project for one of those lonely vineyard's on a nearby plantation. I've only begun breaking ground on it recently. I've a long road ahead with this project, but ever so excited to be working on it. I can't wait to see it all this summer when the health and diversity is all in place.
Much cleanup and dirt work is needed here. I've begun with two runs, already bringing in herbs and pretty lettuces. I think this is going to be a happy place, how about you? =D