Janet picking peppers, 11th Nov.


This month the weather has been ideal for clearing the veg garden and gathering the olives. The sun has shone all day every day, with temperatures rising from eight degrees at 8am to twenty from noon until 5pm, sunset. There were only three days of rain.




Rained off, looking from the kitchen window across to the next tree to work on at the far left.

We generally take the tractor to the olive trees around 8.30 and are sawing out branches and combing the olives from the tree shortly thereafter. It is unhurried work and, with birdsong in the morning sun, very pleasant. We lay a green woven groundsheet on the earth to catch the olives as we strip them from the tree with a small hand rake, then we gather up the sheet and pour the olives into a plastic crate. Every three days we aim to prune seven trees and harvest seven crates of fruit, which clean up at about 100 kilos.

 During pruning.










On the fourth day I slowly pour the olives into a winnowing machine whilst Janet turns the handle. This shakes them through a wire mesh at the front where the leaves are blown off the mesh by wind created from four rotating blades inside the drum of the machine. The olives roll down a chute into the red barrow placed below it.

We thought we were working at a reasonable rate until we learned that a local team of four gathers that much in one afternoon. They use a machine which resembles a mechanised pair of clapping hands on a pole.




Commercially a tractor is used which shakes the tree and catches the falling olives in a large net which it spreads around the tree trunk. It strips a tree every five minutes, yielding about 150 kilos in an hour although no pruning is done.

We have visited our local olive press which has been closed for several years and is due to reopen next week. They require a minimum of 350 kilos for a single quinta pressing (olives from just one farm) so we are storing our olives in spring water until we have collected enough to produce our own oil straight from the press.