Olives

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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!

Our resident emu checks out the olives.
Our resident emu checks out the olives.
The olive grove.
The olive grove.

6 thoughts on “Olives

  1. The olives on the tree in the first image looks dazzling.

    I had a tree next to my bedroom window when I lived near the Royal Botanic Gardens, but I never knew what to do with them, only that processing them seemed like quite a tedious exercise, so the crops went to waste.

    I love good Kalamata olives and used to buy them often when I lived south of Melbourne, but so far, I haven’t found any to match them on this western side of the city. Perhaps I’m too fussy 🙂 but when you’ve tasted perfectly preserved olives, anything else seems like a waste of money.

    • I agree, Vicki, Kalamata olives are very good indeed. When I bought the two trees we have now, there wasn’t a Kalamata available, and I was too impatient to wait! So although I’ve had to learn patience as a gardener, I’m not fully patient yet!

  2. You are right! In front of Le Pont du Gard there is an olive tree that was planted in the year 938 … it was so long ago … I also have one ‘Arbequina’ in Normandy! This one gave me 9 olives this winter! … a good start!

  3. So I’m guessing you’re in South Africa or Australia? Picking the olives is one of my favourite times if the year. Good luck with yours. How do you treat yours to keep them in a jar. I’ve not been very pleased with any I’ve done but the oil is wonderful, especially last years after a very hot dry summer.

  4. Thank you for following my blog, Christina. I’m in New South Wales Australia. I pickle my olives by soaking them in water and changing the water every day for two weeks. Then I make a brine, cover the olives with it, cover the top with olive oil, and weigh it all down to keep the olives under the brine. I usually use a plastic bag with water in it tied up with a rubber band to do that. Seal the jar for six weeks, then the olives should be ready. Good luck!

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