News From the Grove (March) by Jane Seymour

April 5th, 2016

In the past couple of weeks, we have finally started picking our green olives for naturally fermenting in brine.  While the The Manzanilla olives are large and plump,  the Gordal olives are smaller than usual, because many of the trees that were burnt in the 2014 fire are still recovering.

The wild olives are prolific and we have found many trees where the largest and smallest olive varieties are growing on the same tree. This is because in 1946, the pioneer of the olive groves in our region, Jacob  Friedman, grafted the different varieties of olives onto the root stock of wild olive trees from South Australia prior to planting. This process is similar to growing roses, where the varietal is grafted onto vigorous root stock and sometimes the original breaks through. 

This season has been one of very low rainfall, which has devastated many of the cereal & lentil crops in the region. Despite this we are very pleased to have a small but high quality crop of olives.  Our critical time for rain is October, just before the flowering of the trees. We are adapting to climate change by pruning harder to reduce the size of the trees, in order to reduce their water requirements. We leave the  prunings on the ground until the end of summer to provide protection to the soil from the intense sun and the drying winds. It is quite remarkable the effect this has on the grasses beneath, which are then able to survive through the summer.

Our harvest programme is well underway. Soon we will be picking the ripe olives as they change colour from green through yellow green, striped green and red, purple then black. The colour of the flesh inside the olive changes also, but more slowly than the skin. We use this beautiful fruit for our Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

It is  inspiring  to watch the season turn and nature do its work. The care we take in respecting and nurturing this land is repaid in the quality of our harvest, which we look forward to sharing with you.

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