Olive harvest 2013

Mifnight black olives

We live in a tiny cottage about 2 kms from the very centre of Melbourne. And that’s just the way we like it. You might think that would preclude us from industrial scale food harvesting, but you would be wrong.

Well, industrial might be pushing it just a tad but our olive trees are so monstrous and laden with so much fruit that they are certainly the equivalent of a tiny grove.

The other day I had our arborist come in (the same one I sent a text to a few years ago that inadvertently finished with three kisses – force of habit – MORTIFYING!) to come in and lop the tops off so we could a) harvest all the olives from the top and b) reduce the risk of one of these immense trees toppling over and bringing down the slightly rickety back bit of our house.

In the next shot you can see the arborist mid lop. He’s standing on the top of our fence which is about 7 feet tall and he’s no slouch. That should give you some sense of the scale of the trees. Bloody enormous.

Todd lopping  olives

The entire courtyard was a sea of olive branches, so many so that we felt a bit overwhelmed.

Courtyard full of olive branches

We harvested the ones from the downed limbs. When I say we, I mean my handsome husband. He did most of the work. Nah, he did all of it.

And he’s never looked quite so Greek as this.

Hands of a harvester

We’ve got about 30kgs of olives. And we discarded probably another 10kg that were past it or badly blemished. In the 4 years we’ve been collecting, it is by far our biggest crop. By far.

After the harvest we sat for 5 hours straight and put three slits in each olive preparation for brining. When I say we, I of course mean him. His hands are still stained from the process.

Bucket of balck olives

So now our precious olives are soaking in their salty bath for a biblical 40 days and 40 nights. After that, we’ll preserve our babies; some in olive oil, some in brine. I’m going to have to order in extra preserving jars and buy tens of litres of olive oil. Hello Costco.

I am utterly in love with the fact that we are able to have a true harvest from our tiny back yard. It was these wondrous olive trees (my eternal obsession – see this post) that sold me on our house.

2 buckets of olives and branches

Two years from now we should have another bumper crop from massive trees. In the meantime, I would love to find someone with a small press who might consider pressing some of ours for a very small batch of  our own olive oil. Now THAT would be amazing.

Courtyard during olive harvest

My SPECTACULAR crop of fresh broad bean.

Our crop of broad bean

No, that’s not a typo in the title. Just the one bean this year.

Despite having planted about 15 plants.

One. bean.

It makes me laugh so much because its lonesome self is so very sad and pathetic and, well, funny. Who grows one broad bean?

At least the kids were able to have a few good jokes along the lines of  “hey mum, I just ate the whole crop of broad beans”  etc etc.  Garden fail hilarity.

And the  rest of my productive garden is going equally well.

I think this was once a lettuce. The other lettuces are desiccated beyond recognition. They are crispy my friends.

Dessicated and gone-to-seed lettuce

(Don’t you love the way the garden fork is stuck in there like I’m a serious gardener who actually tends my plot or something. HA).

Who knew cavaolo nero had pretty yellow flowers when it went to seed.

Cavolo Nero - gone to seed

Inspiring, no?

Um, no.

Well, I hope it is at least reassuring to other failed gardeners out there.

To be fair to myself, I’ve had productive years – and they are the ones when I have time to properly tend our postage-stamp-sized plot. This year our fortnight away fell during a dry spell and, well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Dead broad bean plants

I’m going to replant with hardy herbs in the next few weeks. Let’s see how long it takes me to kill those. Get set for potential world records.

All the leaf litter on the plot comes from the now ENORMOUS olive trees that are starting to fruit with what is gearing up to be the biggest crop we will ever have had. The trees have once again shot up so high that they desperately need lopping by an arborist. But we have decided to get one in once they’re in full fruit so we can pick the crop from the highest branches that we would otherwise not be able to reach.

And my secret to flourishing  olives amid the rest of the sad, dying stalks? Well, I do sweet FA to them so your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps the roots are tapping into the sewage.