A shot of a vineyard in the beautiful village of Weyher showcases Germany's abandonment of monoculture in wine grape cultivation.
I really do have my own garden, but it's been a rather chaotic summer. First, I was gone for a business trip to Germany, then my wife departed for five weeks to lead a summer student group to Germany as well. I've been up to my ears in kid care and domesticity, and have just tried to keep things alive. Not all is lost, so more on that in a later post.
While in Germany, I had a chance to visit what one could call the Napa Valley of Germany, the Pfalz, which goes by the inelegant name of the Palatinate in English. It's in far western Germany, near the French border, and is literally covered with vineyards and farms. According to a German friend of mine who hails from the area, it sits in a weather hole and tends to have milder winter than surrounding regions. Given that I saw figs (figs!) growing there, his account seems plausible.
One thing I observed was that Germany is in the throes of transitioning away from the curse of monoculture. No more vineyards devoid of any vegetation but grape vines. There are vineyards with flowers, rose bushes, and lots and lots of weeds. They are trying to reduce the use of noxious chemicals in agriculture, and one of the best ways to do this is to avoid monocultures. Inspired by what I saw, I'm thinking more about how I combine plants in my own yard, not just aesthetically or in a companion plant sense, but in terms of helping them fend off pests on their own.