|Mechanical weeding in organic vineyards|
Today we took an afternoon drive through the Cognac vineyards as we needed to stock up on the local organic red from our preferred producer, Brard Blanchard. We were also using the drive to plot a cycle route from home to Cognac for a summer adventure. Unfortunately boulangeries and cafés, essential for our refuelling, are thin on the ground so research is required to avoid hungry disappointment.
It is a lovely time of year to be out as signs of spring and new life are all around, in the hedgerows, the villages and the vineyards. The cowslips and sloe blossom are out in the hedgerows and the villages are ablaze with forsythia, window boxes of pansies, flower beds full of daffodil and hyacinth bulbs and orchards turned white and pink with the first fruit blossoms. There is an air of excitement and gentle busyness. The magpies were nest building in the treetops, the chickens were head down and bottoms up scratching in the gardens, including a mother hen with her tiny speckled chicks and the gardeners were working in their potagers and mowing the verges. In one village we drove past a small road with the sign Rue des Amoureaux (Lovers Road) that made me smile and wonder why it had been so named.
The vines haven’t started sprouting their new leaves yet, but the vineyards were still busy. A pheasant with his showy plumage strutted across the road in front of us into the safety of the vines. Teams of pruners, wrapped in coats and hats were snipping the stumpy vines to two spurs while others were busy tying these in to the supports. The organic producers don’t use weed killers, but opt for mechanical weeding rather like hoeing but with a tractor. The non-organic vineyards are easy to spot with their acres of burned orange lifeless grass surrounding the feet of the vines and looking desolate and very unnatural against the fresh colours of spring around them. One of my favourite sights at this time of year is the huge fields of yellow dandelion flowers that had the weather been better would have been alive with bees. Some may consider them weeds, but I love them.
I hope you have enjoyed a spring trip to the Charente-Maritime with me. This post is linked to All About France, a monthly blog link up run by Phoebe at Lou Messugo. To read what other France lovers have to say about France this month click here.