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Starting a new olive orchard – ‘grandpa’s field’

Hard to believe this is our ‘office view’… Sceneries like that make fieldwork much more enjoyable

Just when we had decided to purchase a mature olive orchard (see Becoming Olive Oil Farmers), we learned that one of my husband’s grandfather’s fields had not been planted yet and that we could go ahead with utilizing the space.

Well, yes, of course! Not that we know more about planting a new orchard than managing an old one… We want to learn from our mistakes as early as possible though!

Locating the borders of the field and enjoying the wildflowers that grow next to it

The layout and structure

The location is a bit of a challenge because we do not have any access to water. This and our love for experiments resulted in us choosing 6 (!) different cultivars for a small orchard (100 trees):

  1. Thassitiki

  2. Picual

  3. Arbequina

  4. Lefkolia

  5. Arvanitolia

  6. Pierias

For one half of the field, we added mycorrhizal fungi. There are only a few scientific studies out there that studied the effects. All of them weren’t extensive studies, but the results indicated that (at least for glomus mosseae and glomus intraradices) olive trees show improved growth and fewer stress symptoms. We’ll see!

Listing all holes and planting rows after the excavator did its work

Since the field is nicely terraced and because we love the natural hedges that border the field (and one line right through the field), we decided against having a bulldozer clearing the space. Instead, we only had a small excavator preparing the wholes and ripping out some conflicting shrubs.

Stone dust distribution – very dusty and annoying task…

Each hole got prepped with stone dust (zeolite) for better nutrient absorption and to give the young trees a better chance of surviving and thriving in the heavy clay soil.

Planting day(s)

Pickup loaded with the young trees

The whole family got involved in the planting process and we tried to make it as fun as possible (including picnics and playtime). It worked out great and our little one managed to stay active and engaged!

All trees got planted in one weekend and we started mulching since. Other than that the only thing we can do now is watching patiently…


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