About six years ago we bought some Irises from the superb Iris farm at Pinos near the Sierra Bernia. Each year they’ve increased – we seem to have perfect conditions for them. They’ve been particularly spectacular this year  – some consolation. as we’ve been rather more house-bound than usual.

We gathered  little later than usual this year – about half the trees were producing following the odd weather – but we harvested sufficient for 72 litres of extra virgin – a 80/20 mix of Manzanilla and Blanqueta olives. The oil smooth, tasty and easily enough for us and our friends this coming year.

We were ably helped in the field by visitors from England, Jane Sergeant, Joan Scot, Jonathan David Simons, Mary Costello, Tim Edwards, Jackie Story – and from New York, Rabab Fayad and Michael Kaftner.  We enjoyed tasting some other local oils. In making the judgement, ignore the colour or clarity of the oil (both irrelevant) but savour the taste and gentle sensation at the back of the throat you experience from a good extra virgin oil.  One oil we sampled was from the  ‘Señorios de Relleu’  (https://www.senoriosderelleu.com/) whose groves are spread around Masía de Teuladi on the opposite side of the ravine from us. They have been winning some international awards for the quality of their oil recently so we are in good company. So a reasonable  harvest – but we hope for 100 litres plus next year. We gained 200 litres plus in past years.

Last year’s haul of 226 litres of extra virgin oil from our Valero trees, probably won’t be matched this year as the chilly Spring has reduced the harvest. The Blanqueta trees however are laden. We have a party coming on November 2nd to help in the gathering. ‘Milking’ an olive tree very therapeutic – just taking your hands down a branch and letting the olives fall onto the ‘manta’ below. Old-fashioned thrashing is therapeutic too, but in a different way. You have to be careful not to damage the tree overly. After gathering, the trick is to get the olives as quickly as possible to the press lower down the valley. We sold most of last year’s surplus to a restaurant. I suspect there’ll be enough for just us this year.

We had our eighty trees pruned earlier this year – ‘so a swallow can fly ‘atween the branches’.