The mild winter meant that the olives flowered early this spring. I thought very early on that we would need to harvest much earlier than usual; however the mills are slow to respond to variations in the people’s needs. Rain during summer isn’t what olives want, the trees have put on a huge amount of foliage; the vast majority of which will need to be pruned to allow light and air into the trees next year. Fortunately our olives have always been unaffected by damage from the olive fly (Bactrocera oleae); I’m not entirely sure why as I never treat the trees nor hang pheromone traps. This year however, due possibly to the damp conditions and maybe compounded by the congested foliage a lot of the olives showed the tell-tale exit hole of the larvae, feeling hopeful that at least some of the crop was unaffected we harvested this weekend.
Friday was mild but with heavy cloud and threats of light showers, but we determined to carry on and by 3.30 pm had harvested more than half of the trees. Saturday dawned sunny and very warm; it suddenly seems much more like summer again than autumn. The sunshine also encouraged a few of the autumn crocus into flower; they always flower at the same time that the olives are being harvested but when I checked them at the end of last week they looked a long way from having buds let alone opening them, but some magic exists and a small clump are flowering meaning that I have some images of the crocuses included with those of the harvest. These are the saffron crocus so for the next week I will be collecting the stamens and drying them to use for a special risotto or shellfish dish. There is something rather special about using my own saffron!
So it was short-sleeves for the harvest on Saturday which was largely finished by lunchtime. I enjoyed an afternoon sitting out in the shade of the fast-yellowing foliage of the wisteria watching the butterflies, but more about those on another day.
This morning (Sunday) was again sunny as we loaded the cars to take the olives to the traditional cold-press mill; slightly disconcertingly when we lifted the crates we saw the floor crawling with the caterpillars of the olive fly, the olives we had thought unaffected still had the ‘worm’ inside them busy eating our oil! They will be pressed tomorrow; I’ll update you on the yield and report on the quality after I’ve tasted it
Don’t forget Wednesday is the 22nd and Garden Bloggers Foliage Day it will also be my 500th post – I can’t quite believe it. I do hope you’ll join my celebrations and link in with a post dedicated to the foliage in your garden in October, maybe even share a little autumn colour? Enjoy the rest of the weekend.