Barley, oats and clover planted between the rows? Why? Because they are helping us to revitalize the soil and create a balance between the plant and the ground that will give us stronger, healthier vines. Seeding these grains in the fall allows us to work the terrain less, without compacting it, and what’s more the roots of these plants compete with those of the grapevines, which are then stimulated to go deeper into the soil. Barley has long, thin roots, which at the end of the vegetative cycle leave underground micro-canals that favour the oxygenation of the earth.
Another positive aspect is tied to grape mildew: this fungus activates when the spores in the ground jump onto the plant during spring rains. Barley physically blocks these spores. This way we can avoid precocious treatments or reduce the dosages of anti-parasite treatments.
At the end of May, once cut, the barely will create a soft hay-like carpet that will prevent infesting grass from growing and act as an insulator against the sun, keeping the ground beneath it fresh and active.
I might add that sometimes the transgressive temptation to make beer out of the barley growing between the rows gets very strong … :)