We thought the olives would be ready just before Xmas, but we saw people harvesting in the last week or so and thought we’d better crack on!
We have nets which go under the trees on the ground, and then work our way around and through the tree pulling off the olives into the nets. We have 9 olive trees so it’s quite a big job. Commercial olive growers have fancy tractors that shake the tree and can harvest a tree in minutes – we’re averaging 2-3 hours per tree with two of us doing it! But we’re not in a hurry, and I have to say, it’s extremely satisfying and therapeutic picking olives!
We also had an awful lot of pruning to do on the olive trees once we’d harvested all the olives – not sure how many years it’s been since they had a good prune, but they’re looking better now!
These are what we picked from just one tree – we actually ended up with 246kg altogether!
We took the olives to the local oil factory yesterday – they will cold press the olives and then give us a share of the oil as payment, and they then sell the rest of the oil. The local factory is a very famous one (Almazara) and they sell their oil all over. When you turn up you join a queue (everyone is harvesting now!) and then you weigh in your olives and off they go as a batch with your name and number on. They give you a ticket which we will present next week to collect our share of our oil – can’t wait to see how much we get!
I’m looking forward to having our own olive oil for cooking and preserving other food we’ve grown. I’m planning to use it to store garlic, sun dried tomatoes and roasted peppers.
Then in the next few weeks the mandarins will be ready. We have about 6 mandarin trees, most of which are heaving – we can’t sell these … I’ll be preserving as many as possible so we have them to eat all year round.
After that we have a break in harvesting until February / March – the big one … the oranges 🍊 – 35 trees! You get more money per kilo if you leave some stalk on rather than just pulling them off the tree – so although it’s more labour intensive we’ll be doing it this way to make the maximum amount of money, but we’ll still only get about 11 cents a kilo selling them to the local cooperative. All of our oranges will be going for juicing as we don’t have an eco certificate for the farm – and this takes three years to get, with regular inspections and testing by the Spanish equivalent of the Soil Association, so I can’t see us going this route to be honest for 35 trees. I can’t be doing with rules and regulations any more!