The Slope on Thursday 23rd October and Olive oil update

Firstly I’d like to thank you for making my 500th post such a special event.  More people than ever before joined in with a post about the foliage in their garden, or a particular plant or foliage seen on a visit to an arboretum or a nursery.  If you haven’t read them all you can find the links in yesterday’s post.

An update is due about the olive oil.  Not good news I’m afraid.  The yield was low, there was 23 kg about 35 litres of oil from just over 200 kg.  Last year we had about the same weight of olives but had 28 kg of oil.  But worse, the taste of the oil isn’t great; the oil I have left from two years ago that I’ve been cooking with tastes much better than the new oil.  We have about 5 litres of last year’s wonderful oil, which has kept its flavour well.  I’ll be using that for salad dressings and pouring on soup and use the new oil for cooking.  Many people aren’t even bothering to harvest this year and many areas that usually have very high quality oil are saying that there is only enough for home use and won’t be selling any.  I’m sure the world market won’t be affected as it won’t have been a bad area everywhere.  Don’t feel too sorry for me as at least I know my oil is without chemical residues and it is always special to use our own knowing that even this year’s oil is a much better product than you can buy easily in the supermarket.

The slope looks much as last week, so just a couple of images for the record.

The usual view, blue sky with clouds, usually when the wind is from the north we have very clear skies

The usual view, blue sky with clouds, usually when the wind is from the north we have very clear skies

The most common bee in the garden, or certainly the most obvious is the Carpenter bee

The most common bee in the garden, or certainly the most obvious is the Carpenter bee (here on the Perovskia)

As part of the Terrace border make-over I've moved the Madonna lilies to close to the prostrate rosemary

As part of the Terrace border make-over I’ve moved the Madonna lilies to close to the prostrate rosemary

I am fascinated by how the new leave forms on the agave near the gate

I am fascinated by how the new leaves form on the agave near the gate

Not much colour today but Verbena ground-cover and Eschscholzia add a little zing.

Not much colour today but Verbena ground-cover and Eschscholzia add a little zing.

The weather has changed; the wind is blowing from the north and the temperature has dropped by about 10° C from last week.  This is a big change; usually when I enter the house after being in the garden it feels pleasantly cool, since yesterday when I walk in it feels very noticeably warmer than outside, almost as if the heating was on, but it isn’t quite cold enough for that yet, but maybe a cosy fire at the weekend!  I know many of you have already experienced frosts but was there a day when you suddenly knew that summer was no more?!

47 thoughts on “The Slope on Thursday 23rd October and Olive oil update

  1. What a shame about the olive oil. I do hope next year is better for you. The weather here isn’t very cold, but it is a bit miserable. It is getting dark earlier and earlier now and this weekend the clocks will go back making it lighter in the mornings for a while, but darker even earlier in the evening.

    • The clocks change here too this weekend. I’m not sure why but this year I really hate the dark evenings. It doesn’t get dark as early here as it must do with you in Aberdeen, at the moment it is dark just before 7pm. Hopefully the olive oil will be better next year. This is the worst year since we started harvesting them in 2006.

  2. The new agave leaves certainly are interesting. (The nursery I mentioned in my GBFD post yesterday had a large selection of agaves.) The weather here is getting cooler at night, but still warms up nicely during the day.

    • I’ve never been that interested in succulents but they are one of the plant groups that will survive the drought conditions so I find I am beginning to appreciate them more. The new leaf formation is beautiful, I will have to watch how it becomes a separate leaf. This evening is the first that I have needed to wear a fleece and even think about the heating.

  3. Growing your own olives and producing oil is the stuff of dreams for most of us Christina, despite the poor harvest I am envious! We are having a mild couple of days before the clocks change and bracing myself now for the darker evenings.

    • I appreciate that I am very lucky, I think it very special every time I use the oil, which of course is every day! I think we have almost enough of the good oil from past years to use until next year and I can cook with the new oil, even make cakes because it has a less bitter (good in oil) taste.

  4. Your garden isn’t giving up on summer yet despite the fall in temperatures. I have always fancied trying to make soap. Olive oil is supposed to make good soap. Perhaps an idea for a rainy day in the winter? Amelia

    • My husbans loves olive oil soap and used to buy large stocks when he was working in Syria, obviously he is running out now so I would gain a lot of brownie points if I could reproduce that traditional soap, thanks for the idea.

  5. I do like the unfurling agave leaves, so reminiscent of the raised patterns of acanthus that you see on old stone columns and pots. They certainly have a very architectural quality…

    • Yes, the wet summer. Olives like it hot and sunny, they are happy with the normal drought; they also flowered very early because of the mild winter/spring so there was more time for the olive fly to attack (that’s my opinion anyway). So I’m hoping for a relatively cold winter to kill the flies (I need to check on how their life cycle works).

  6. Shame about the oil, but as you say, it’s good to have a product you know and I’m sure it’s better than what we normally buy here. It’s getting dark here by about 6pm at the moment. The dark mornings and grey skies are what get to me most in winter though! Still no frost yet, but snow in the mountains!

    • Yes, it is the dark evenings that are already getting to me (it doesn’t usually happen this soon). Plus it is actually lighter for a lot longer than it is in southern England, so I really shouldn’t be complaining.

  7. Have really enjoyed your olive updates Christina – but sorry the harvest wasn’t as good this year. Soap sounds like an excellent plan when you have more. Really cold here this morning – down to 4 degrees C!

  8. I have read about tests where most of the olive oil in stores was found to contain traces of DDT. We always buy organic olive oil but even so, I’m sure having your own oil from home grown olives beats that 🙂

    • A great deal of olive oil sold (especially in the US) contains very little olive oil pure first press oil whatever the label says. I know that I don’t have any chemicals on my olives at all and I watch them being processed at the mill so know that they haven’t been contaminated by other olives. This year the oil isn’t great but it is pure and this is the first time since we bought this property in 2006 that the oil hasn’t been good so I can live with that. Our weather this year has been unusually wet which was one of the problems I think. I will put up with the drought better next year if I believe the olives will be better. If climate change really does mean that Italy will become more tropical it may be time to grow something else!

  9. My favourite part of your interesting article was actually the photograph of the Agave. It never ceases to amaze me how the opening leaf, leaves its imprint. I have two growing in pots that I have already had to move under cover to protect from the rains and find myself rather envious of your outdoor full grown version. D.

    • They may be outside but they are far from full-grown! Even in my garden they are only marginally hardy. The one I showed has been in the ground 3 years, I think and has hardly grown at all. I imagine yours in pots are larger. Christina

  10. Yes, the agave observation was brilliant – Nature never ceases to surprises me. Interesting to hear about your olives – and I suppose you were prepared for a difference in yield from year to year.

  11. It always takes a bad harvest to make you appreciate the good years more, I’m sure next year will be all the more welcome now! -and it doesn’t sound at all like you’re complaining, just a judgment on the harvest.
    A couple years ago I tried several different oils available here in the US and only found one or two with good taste. I’m not a fancy person, but do like a nice bread with some tasty oil for dipping!
    I better finish my foliage day post. This week got away from me, but I’m hoping better late than never applies 🙂

    • Definitely better late than never applies, I look forward to it. We attended olive tastings for several years and it is incredible how different the oil tastes. One year they included an oil from the supermarket in with the newly pressed medal winners. I was amazed that some people nodded sagely and said it was good, just because they thought it was from an individual grower; I was horrifies they couldn’t taste the difference; I’m a long way from being an expert but I thought it horrendous and didn’t try any more of it after the first sip.

      • haha, you would not have enjoyed my tasting experience. Even my taste buds could tell that several of the oils were no better than bitter vegetable oil. The good ones were few and far between 🙂

  12. Sounds like the olive oil is much like wine, with good years and bad years and you’ve already figured how to relegate uses according to quality. We should all have such “problems”. We’re having windstorms and rain by the bucket loads. No question that summer is over. Good books and cozy fires ahead, so I’m not complaining.

  13. Our seasons here change in fits and starts. We had several days of unseasonable cold recently, and then it started warming up. Then we had our first hard frost at night–but my Impatiens and Fuchsias survived because they’re in hanging baskets and I misted them. But I guess hitting that first low of 32F/0C marks the true end of summer for me. Now we have 70F/21C for highs, so it feels like summer again. Sorry about the olive oil! Thanks for sharing images from your slope garden–it looks fabulous. I love Verbena.

    • Yes, the first frost is a definite sign that winter is here. Usually it doesn’t get really cold until January here, but the dark evenings, especially from today as the clocks went back an hour, are what I dislike most.

  14. First pots of succulents and now an agave – you are making a commitment! Warning: they can become addictive. I’ve sorry to hear about the olive oil but it’s great that you can still make use of what you got. Is the difference in quality related to the weather, bugs or something else altogether?

    Fall comes slowly to southern California. The biggest difference is the cool nights. The days are still warm, over 80F again today but it does get chilly (our version of chilly anyway) at night.

    • The wet summer and the olive fly were the main problem; the rain because the trees put on huge amounts of new growth which I think detracted from the flavour of the olives in some way. Because the season was so early the flies had more time to attack.

  15. I am feeling a sense of the end of summer with the changing clock this weekend Christina – I know that afternoons in the garden are now very limited. It is still warm for the time of year though – no need to put the heating on just yet and the dahlias are still beautiful. The first frost, whenever it comes, is really the end for me. What a shame about your olives, but that is gardening isn’t it – it is the promise of next year that keeps us all going!

    • I wish I had staked my Dahlias better, the cane I put in is about a quarter or less of the diameter of the stem! So of course it has fallen over, shortening its possibility for flowering. I am already planning and sowing for next year in the cuttings bed. Lots more dahlias I think. The clocks have changed here too, I hate the dark nights.

  16. Hi Christina,Sorry the olives were not so good,still great to eat what has grown on your land.Currently I’m enjoying apples and blackberries from the freezer,all picked here. I love that agave leaf.

    • Being self sufficient at least for vegetables is wonderful. The greenhouse is filling with trays of salad leaves that I’ll use while they’re really small, a few may be left to grow larger and even get planted out in early spring for an early crop. My peas are also already germinated, some to eat as pea shoots and the rest again to plant out soon.

  17. It’s always special to use your own produce from the garden. I envy you your own olive oil! I adore olive trees, especially old, gnarly trees, but to have the olives and their oil must be so special. So sorry, though, your yield was disappointing. The agave photo was fascinating – an amazing detail!

    • Having our own produce is one of my biggest joys. I want to use the greenhouse this winter to produce more carrots, salad leaves and herbs than I’ve done in the past.

  18. Oh Christina I’m sorry to read to read the update on your olive oil harvest. I imagine that a lower yield is disappointing but more so the fact that the taste is not as good. Still waiting for that first frost here although we often escape without one until November.

    • Nature can’t be controlled completely and I don’t feel so bad as this is the first time the oil hasn’t been good since we first harvested our olives here in 2006. I hope they will be better next year; to help the plants I have already begun prunin gthem quite hard as they grew so much during the wet summer.

  19. First, congratulations on (now) 501 posts! That is a great accomplishment, and my joy that I have read a lot of them!
    I am sorry about your olive oil, though you echoed my thought when you said that nevertheless it is better than that available in the supermarkets. I am glad you showed the agave with the new leaf formation. That is fascinating!

  20. Well I am sorry to hear about the taste of the oil, but you have a plan and as you say it is better than what I can get here and I am sure of that. I knew summer was gone when we hit mid October and the temps dropped, the flowers faded and we had our second mild frost. Big freeze supposed to be here this weekend with some snow and high temps not even reaching 40. But it will be short-lived at least for another week after that.

    • I’m sorry you are heading so quickly into winter, Donna but hopefully by next spring you will be completely recovered and able to do everything you would like in the garden.

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