Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Arbor Day (times eleven) - 5-16 June

“The whole Mediterranean, the sculpture, the palm, the gold beads, the bearded heroes, the wine, the ideas, the ships, the moonlight, the winged gorgons, the bronze men, the philosophers - all of it seems to rise in the sour, pungent taste of these black olives between the teeth. A taste older than meat, older than wine. A taste as old as cold water.”

- Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990) ‘Prospero's Cell’ (1945)

Two hundred fifty-five trees to plant. Two people. One garden fork. One acre of hill. And the winter and rainy season on its way.

The last couple of weeks have been a marathon session, turning paddocks into "workable" land for an olive grove: mowing lawn, clearing out patches of grass, carrying loads of 25kg bags of compost, limestone and gypsum up the hill, digging holes, planting trees, hammering in stakes and tying trees to stakes for some sort of protection against the wind (of which we have our share, being 2kms from the windfarm!).

From dusk to dawn, we were slaving in the orchard taking it row by row and tree for tree. Isn't that how enormous, seemingly impossible tasks are handled? Little by little. One by one - eventually you get there. And at the end of it, I'm always amazed at what one person (or two in this case) is capable off. Whether you walk 800 kilometres in 26 days or plant hundreds of trees in a couple of days - things are almost always more do-able than you might think.

A couple of photos to show the process:

Gerry trimming knee-high grass.

Taking a coffee break between heaps of grass that still need to be raked to somewhere!

Marking the positions of the trees with blue spray paint.

The paddocks after all the grass were mowed and the markings in place. The "before" picture ;-).

Preparing the hole for the very first tree to be planted. A J5.

Mixing in compost, limestone and gypsum.
Hopefully this tree is marking the start of
big things to come.

The first row of J5's starting to take shape.

J5's ready and waiting.
The first row halfway up the hill. Gerry staking
the trees as we go.

Halfway through the process.

Beautiful little J5 trees on top of the world!

Collecting garden tools at the end of a hard days work.

Staking the last tree for the day just before sunset.

At the and of it all - 11 days later on a lovely sunny afternoon, we popped a bubbly between the trees
to celebrate the new olive grove.

The "after" photo. :-)
This is the grove as it stands now. From the left: (not seen in this picture) 5 Ascolano trees right at the top.
Second row (Sevillano planned) still empty, the next three rows are more Ascolano's, one row Frantoio, then two rows of South Australian Verdale, another empty row (future Picholine) and the last three rows with J5's.
11 rows in total except for the 5 extra trees at the top (Tharfield included a couple of extra trees
in the batch we bought from them).

It's been a couple of days since planting and the rainy season is upon us. We spotted hundreds of earthworms crossing the road, presumably trying to get away from the soggy soils (?).

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