Sunday, May 23, 2010
Mustering more info. about mustards
More fooder for the discussion about mustard plants growing in vineyards.
In college, Knoll, who has a Ph. D. in Chemistry, researched the science of allelopathy—the study of the toxic or antagonistic chemicals (many of which are called secondary metabolites) which some plants produce. These compounds act, in Knoll's words, "as ecological chemicals to gain an advantage over other plants and act like an ‘immune system’ for the plant." These chemicals have a number of impacts, such as stunting the growth of other plants or suppressing their germination of seed. For example, Rick points out: "All Brassica roots exude a secondary metabolite (glucosinolates —related to mustard gas) which inhibits grass-seed germination; this slows down the grasses and lets the Brassica get a really strong start. It doesn't kill the grasses; it's just a mechanism for competition."
(From Bob's Newsletter, Vol. 1. No. 2. See www.robertkourik.com to buy the entire article about Rick Knoll, one of the best organic farmers in Northern California.)
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