The olives are looking good. Large green drupes are hanging from the branches of our Manzanillo tree which has been in the ground three years and has grown rapidly. Last October it was almost white with flowers, but a not uncommon hot westerly wind blew angrily through and scorched those blossoms so we are left with just enough olives to pickle, perhaps two jars. It's a big change from having 500 trees, which is what we had on our olive farm. There's more about that in my post 'Where did all this start?' We now have two trees: the other one is a California Queen, but it isn't doing as well. It hasn't seemed like such a good specimen from the start but I won't give up on it as I know olives can be cajoled into behaving themselves.
Olive trees manage very well in dry and difficult conditions, and in fact they are renowned for being tough. They can be seen all around the Mediterranean, clinging obdurately to limestone mountainsides, growing in the smallest amount of soil. But we irrigated our olive grove, and fed the trees with 'Dynamic Lifter' -chook manure- and they repaid us handsomely in beautiful fruit which produced top-quality, fragrant, delicious oil.
Olive trees can grow to a venerable age. I was lucky enough to see an ancient reputed to be 900 years old near the Pont du Gard in southern France when I visited there some years ago. Although the tree didn't have a very tall crown, its trunk was very sturdy and furrowed with ridges and crevices which surely denote great age. It was very well cared-for and I wonder if it will still be there in another 900 years. It could be: the olive tree of Vouves on the island of Crete is estimated to be between 2000 and 3000 years old.
Today there's quite a breeze blowing and the branches of my olive trees are tossing in the wind, the leaves displaying their silvery undersides. I love to see them there, just as I loved the trees on the farm robustly standing in their rows dealing with the elements in their implacable way.
Our last harvest at the farm was two tonnes, all picked by hand, with the help of friends. What a difference it is to have two jars' worth!