Why pesticides won't work.

For one thing, the GWSS flies fast and escapes the pesticides, plus it hates the taste of them and will starve to death rather than eat plants that have been pesticided. For another, the methods of modern industrial agriculture are setting things up for disease and for one "pestilence" after another.

Sterile soil can't grow healthy plants!
                                      --by Dan Mattson, 4/01


The above photos were taken on the same day, March 27, 2001, a few miles apart. The lush vineyard is on an organic farm in Sonoma County, near Glen Ellen. The barren vineyard is over the hill to the east from there, just north of Calistoga on Highway 29 in Napa County.

There are no weeds in either picture!

The organic farm uses cover crops for all organic soil building. These include mustard, beans, and peas. They are allowed to live out their natural life cycle, then cut down and returned to the earth. In addition to the plants, organic farmer Bob Cannard adds crushed rock for minerals and seeks out local beneficial bacteria which he then grows more of and applies to his vineyard to further strengthen the soil. He harvested 12 tons of grapes from this vineyard in 2000. He expects the same or a bit more this year.

To chemical growers, the plants, especially the mustard, he uses to build his soil are a nuisance. In fact the state of California lists wild mustard as a "noxious weed". Bob Cannard maintains that there is no "wild" mustard. That it has been cultivated for thousands of years and that no strain is left that can truly be called wild. Further, mustard is not native to California. It was brought here by Europeans.

Ironically, the wine industry uses flowering mustard as a tourist attraction, just before it eradicates it!


It happens that mustard flowers and goes to seed in late winter when grapevines are dormant. For the past eight years the beauty of vineyards full of flowering mustard has been used for the profit of wine makers who otherwise consider mustard to be a weed.

Pierces Disease and the glassy-winged sharpshooter are of little concern to organic farmer Bob Cannard!

Bob believes that his grapevines are strong enough to outgrow a pest invasion. He has seen insect attacks and likened them to a person with healthy immune getting pricked by a rose thorn. There may be an infection, but the body deals with it easily. By comparison he likens plants in a chemically grown vineyard to a person strung out on heroin. They have a weak immune system and are susceptible to disease. After a few years of such production, the soil becomes depleted and more and more chemicals are needed to maintain production.

It is not unusual for people living in areas routinely sprayed by agricultural chemicals to develop not only weak immune systems, but serious health problems.

All images ©2001 Dan Mattson. All rights reserved.
Permission to use and distribute these images in a responsible manner will be freely given
to not-for-profit organizations and individuals adhering to a no-toxic (as opposed to least-toxic or reduced use) policy. All other use, including commercial use, must be with explicit permission.
Please contact handyman@california.com

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