Sep 192013

I found a video for us to enjoy on how to grow olives. It’s for the home gardener and is from the Better Homes and Gardens Australia website. Here is the link to the companion article.

In the video the host, Graham Ross, mentions a pruning technique to help encourage olive trees to grow fruit or grow more fruit. It’s this practice, opening up the canopy to let in the sunlight and air, that inspired my closing good wishes for all of my readers (see bottom of article ↓).

After you have fruit on your olive trees you absolutely must eat some, BUT not straight away. They’ll need to be pickled first. Also from Better Homes and Gardens are instructions on how to pickle your own olives.

“Step 1: Pick then sort olives, removing any that are damaged or deformed. Remove odd stems and leaves from olives to be cured. Rinse well with water.
Step 2: Place olives on a cutting board. Prick each several times with a fork or make 3 slits in skin using a serrated knife.
Step 3: Put 10 cups water into a clean bucket. Add ½ cup sea salt or cooking salt. Put olives in bucket, ensuring all are submerged – you can put a plate on top to keep olives under solution, if required.
Step 4: Pour out and replace saltwater with fresh saltwater each day. Do this for about 12 days for green olives and about 10 days for black olives.
Step 5: Bite into an olive to test – if bitterness is almost gone, your olives are ready for final salting.
Step 6: Pour off and measure last lot of saltwater so you know how much brine to make.
Step 7: Measure and put that quantity of warm water into a pan. Add and dissolve salt at a ratio of 1 cup salt to 10 cups water. Bring to the boil. Allow to cool.
Step 8: Put olives into a jar. Pour brine over them until all are submerged. Top jar with 1cm of olive oil, tightly screw on lid to seal and put in a cool cupboard. You can store your olives like this for at least 12 months.
Step 9: When you’re ready to eat, pour out brine and fill jar with clean, cool water. Leave in refrigerator for 24 hours, then bite to test. If they’re too salty, empty water and replace with fresh water. Leave in fridge for another 24 hours and test again. Repeat until your olives are just as you like them.”

May the sun shine through your branches.

Jul 132011

For the last several weeks I’ve made many trips on California’s Interstate 880. For several miles the freeway is lined with block walls, and on the block walls are some sort of vines growing up from the ground in a flat, wedge formation. Extending from the wedge are faintly visible, dried, leafless branches.

One day recently it rained, and the moistened, dry branches were now visible. The effect was beautiful and reminded me of the espaliered fruit trees I saw along walls in small European towns.

Espalier is a technique for growing fruit trees on a flat surface, often a wall or a sturdy mesh. The purpose of espalier is to maximize space, create a microclimate, maximize sun exposure, make harvesting easier, etc. It was very popular in the Middle Ages and is still a great option for growing in small spaces

I did a little internet research on espalier and olive trees. Even though I saw articles claiming that espalier is used commercially in the olive industry, I have not seen actual evidence of it. I have seen where super high density trees are trained along a row line, but the trees still grow three-dimensionally, and the training is not distinct enough to call espalier.

If anyone has seen espaliered olive trees, whether ornamental or for commercial use, I would love to know. A photo would be great too.

May the sun shine through your branches.