Very satisfying day yesterday when our new ‘old’ olive trees arrived and were planted in the garden. These trees have come from the Alentejo area of southern Portugal. There are areas where the old trees are being grubbed up and removed in order to make way for new plantings at the spacing needed for mechanical harvesting. The old trees cannot be harvested this way because their trunks are too rigid and the pruning method is different. We have been able to have five trees of the Manzanilla variety – this is one of the best varieties for table olives and can also be good for oil. We have used the trees to fill gaps in an area of the garden where we have some trees and so now we have a lovely olive grove area. Fortunately the trees are about the same age as ours and so they look immediately at home. Olives have an amazing ability to recover from this kind of treatment and can add instant maturity to gardens. This kind of planting is wonderful for creating a Mediterranean atmosphere. We will have to water them for the first year or two to encourage the secondary root systems to develop but after that, watering can stop. We hope to be harvesting olives from these trees in about three to five years.
Thu 21 Jan 2010