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« Black Barrel Arrives (Ginger Beer, Anyone?) | Main | Time to Relax »
Thursday
Apr112013

Time to Relax (Part II) - Crop Rotation

I ended up grabbing dinner with my co-worker Jim Boyce last night and we sat on his back patio, drinking beer and eating Thai food, taking in the warm evening on the Peninsula. We were talking about consumer burnout, how we could prevent it, and trying to think of the proper analogy to put it into context. I don't know if it was the presence of stars in the night sky or the sight of tomatoes growing in the various pots in Jim's yard, but we started comparing the average booze consumer to a plot of land. Are you ready for some real hippie-dippie philosophical babble?

Crop rotation. That's what will prevent consumer burnout.

What is crop rotation? It's what farmers do to prevent their land from losing its nutrients due to overproduction. Here's a better description from Wikipedia:

In Europe, since the times of Charlemagne, there was a transition from a two-field crop rotation to a three-field crop rotation. Under a two-field rotation, half the land was planted in a year while the other half lay fallow. Then, in the next year, the two fields were reversed. Under three-field rotation, the land was divided into three parts. One section was planted in the autumn with winter wheat or rye. The next spring, the second field was planted with other crops such as peas, lentils, or beans and the third field was left fallow. The three fields were rotated in this manner so that every three years, a field would rest and be fallow. 

Growing the same crop in the same place for many years in a row disproportionately depletes the soil of certain nutrients. With rotation, a crop that leaches the soil of one kind of nutrient is followed during the next growing season by a dissimilar crop that returns that nutrient to the soil or draws a different ratio of nutrients: for example, rice followed by cotton.

What we supposed last night, under the influence, was that alcohol burnout could be prevented by simply rotating the crops at the right time of the year. After a season of single malt drinking, it might be time to let that part of your body lie fallow while you tend to "winter wheat or rye," in the form of a distilled spirit, of course. You might try planting some sugar cane as well, or some savory herbs that could macerated and formulated into a gin. Why not a vineyard as well?

Crop rotation. Is your land completely focused on the production of corn and barley? If so, you might be in danger of sapping its vital nutrients completely. Letting it remain fallow for a while is a time-tested way of preventing complete depletion. 

Or, in other words, of preventing total burnout.

-David Driscoll