The 50 olive trees (Olea europaea) are planted and getting established. We have had decent rain in the past month so almost all are beginning to develop creamy white flowers now and the wind is doing its job of pollination. In Sicily the contadini shake the trees when the flowers are open to help release the pollen so that all trees are cross pollinated. Fruit setting will commence soon and we might get enough for the table though will be two to three years before we get enough to produce Daramalan organic olive oil.
The olive is a small, evergreen tree, averaging 20 feet or more in height. The lanceolate leaves are about seven centimetres long and delicately pale green above and beautifully silver below. The dark purple fruit is about 2 cm long, ovoid and often pointed, the fleshy part filled with oil.
The beautifully-veined pale grey wood not only takes a fine polish, but is faintly fragrant, and is much valued for small cabinet-work.
To eat the fruit the unripe olives are steeped in salt water to reduce their bitterness. The ripe fruits are pressed to extract the oil - Extra Virgin Oil, greenish in tint, is obtained by pressing crushed fruit in coarse bags and skimming the oil from the tubs of water through which it is conducted. The cake left in the bags is broken up, moistened, and repressed. The leaves are astringent and antiseptic and the oil is a nourishing demulcent and laxative. An extremely old cultivated crop and incredibly useful in a number of ways.
Let's hope that we have a bumper series of crops so that we can share the fruits and the oil with our friends