olive harvest at home

The olive harvest has started in our backyard at home. We decided to harvest early before the olives start falling on our neighbour’s yard. They tend to drop as they get black and ripe and soft. They also get bruised at this stage and could make a mess. As far as I know, not one has fallen yet and the harvest is part black, part red and mostly green. 

adaptions of the usual method

Some of the branches had grown very tall, and the ladder could not reach the fruit, and the ground underneath is difficult, and unstable, because the tree is growing in an old worm bed. Stephan sawed them off with a bow saw, and we then harvested the branches when they were on the ground. The tree needed severe pruning anyway. It needs to remain of a height where it  can be harvested easily.

the size of the olive harvest varies

This year’s olive harvest appears to be a small one, perhaps when we’ve harvested both trees we may have just five kilograms. I guess the tree was pruned too late in the year after flowering and a lot of the fertilized embryonic fruit were pruned away. Olives do fluctuate in their bearing, having alternatively good and poor years which the pruning is supposed to stabilize. However it obviously is not completely effective at making all harvests the same. We have had years where the best tree produced thirty five kilograms.

This year the tree which normally has a couple of olives has excelled itself and will perhaps produce a kilo. Stephan could see them when he got on the ladder to inspect the garage roof, so he will harvest them from up there.

the age of the trees

The trees have only been bearing profusely for about 5 years or so. They were planted in about 1998 so they are heading for twenty years now, considering that they were probably a few years old when I bought them at the nursery.

trying to propagate the olives

Good olive harvests like the one we had a while back stimulated me to clone the tree, but all attempts at taking cuttings have failed so far. I have a lot of branches from today’s severe pruning, but my cheap green house is not ready, and the last lot of cuttings under plastic did not take at all. There was not one which developed roots. Under the right conditions with misting and bottom heat and hormones, the rooting rate is 90 percent according ot my research and this gave me hope that some would root without all the technology, but it appears olives do not root easily. They should be especially difficult after the harvest, if I’m to believe the research from the Royal Horticulture Society booklet on taking cuttings. Fruiting ages wood and it is less likely to root.

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up next in the olive grove

I have posted a more picture rich page about the harvest on http://edenfound.weebly.com/olive-harvest.html. I use that website as a photo album for events in which pictures just speak louder than words, and for me they often do.

I hope to add to the photo album when we start processing and leaching the olives, so that you can see its not a complicated business. I can almost smell that delicious fatty aroma coming from the brine bucket as they ferment. There is nothing like it for a mix of leafy and spicy richness. I noted earlier that the olive blossoms smell like gardenia when the twigs are piled thickly in a bucket. This plant has so many interesting aromas.

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