Some readers may know that last year, the purchase of a small olive grove near Exarchos was finalized after a long time of trying. This olive grove had been abandoned from quite some years and had been overgrown with weeds. Last summer, we managed to attack and clear out most of the weeds, but there was a lot of work to be done to trim away suckers and give the trees a good trimming. Fertilization was also planned, and we left Spilliazeza on Tuesday afternoon and the nice warm sunny weather.
We weren’t sure what we’d find in the fields near the village of Exarchos – it had recently snowed and there had been reports that the fields were very wet – we weren’t sure if we could make it in all the way to the olive grove in the Tiguan. But, why not try and see how far we could go?
When we arrived at the village, it was quite chilly and we prepared for a night that would go down to -3C in a cold house. Duvets and even old but quality hand-made heavy wool blankets were pulled out of the closets and put on the beds. Then, an early bed time as 6AM was the scheduled time to “wake up and at ’em.”
The morning turned out to be pretty darn chilly, and as we drove out of the village, we noticed areas with quite a bit of snow on some sides where the sun had not shined on. Some of the fields had sitting water on them as well. Just outside of the village though, we were met with this awesome view of Mount Parnassus in the distance with snow gracing the mountain’s peaks:
It was really quite beautiful, and I had to stop to take a few photos. Carrying on down the road, we came to the “track” that leads towards other tractor trails through fields that we need to go through to get to the olive grove. Most of the driving was fine albeit with some big rut avoidance needed. Then we came to actual fields, which were muddy but not soaking wet. The Tiguan did fine as we traversed them and made it all the way to my olive grove without incident. Much of it though was downhill, and I had a few concerns about whether we’d get stuck heading bacThis
The final approach though is generally flat, and with grass growing, we had no problems:
The Tigaun’s tires were covered in mud, but the rest of the car was fine:
To Fertilize The Olive Trees Or Not?
It has been a rough winter in these parts of Greece; in fact the past three winters have been colder than normal with more snow. This has affected some but not all olive groves, with frost burnt leaves. Unfortunately, I was not able to personally speak with the local horticulturalist, but apparently he recommended that if the trees had suffered frost burn damage to the leaves, they should not be fertilized; only trimmed. I’m a bit skeptical of this advice and am not sure if he meant it should be delayed until after the trees were trimmed, or something else. Anyhow, when we arrived, sure enough we discovered that many of the trees had been hit with leaf damage to to the cold. So much brown:
While I’m still not sure why the trees shouldn’t be fertilized if they’ve been hit with frost and/or cold, one thing is they certainly need an even bigger trimming than planned. And this olive grove had been abandoned for 5+ years, so there was a lot to trim anyway. A couple of “helpers” who know what they are doing were hired to help out, and with chainsaws and picks, they went to work. In the end, there were tons of trimmed branches scattered throughout the olive grove; it was a big mess!
In the end, just about every tree had more than a trim. For many of them, it was like a long-haired hippy getting a total brush cut. The entire half acre of land was covered with long trimmed branches as well as thicker branches suitable for firewood. I wanted to help by clearing away the wasted branches to the sides of the grove – and had some ideas that maybe someone local had a wood chipper/shredder I could use to make mulch out it all. But in the end, there was no guarantee we could locate a chipper in the next day, so I had to make the sad decision to agree to just burn it all. I very much hated having to make that decision, but it was the only way we could quickly work on clearing away the debris.
One of the helpers, Martine, had access to a small tractor and cultivator which he went to get – and it was awesome to gather everything up into one huge pile, where a fire had been set, in a corner. He was also able to pull out old tough weeds of thorny bramble along one section that I had major issues with last year trying to clear.
In the end, we worked for about 6 hours, and my total bill for the help of two people and the tractor was 100.00 Euros. A good deal as far as I’m concerned and the two helpers worked their butts off, and were helpful with many great suggestions. They only stopped for a short 15 minute break and other than that, were constantly trimming, clearing, and helping to clean the plot up.
It was not easy work – although for Beans, my Boston Terrier, he didn’t do much except find a feral cat to chase – but he wandered around for 6 hours, sometimes getting in the way, while other times making everyone laugh. But even by the end of the day, he was tired with the thousands and thousands of steps his short legs took.
After we were done, and loaded up the back of the Tiguan with the olive wood that will be seasoned and used as firewood, we turned the car around and drove back through the fields, and going up hill through the soft muddy terrain was not a problem at all. We did get a different view of the snow covered Mount Parnassus though:
The green of a Greek March offered a nice contrast with the view in front.
Looking back, we could see smoke still rising from the smouldering green olive wood branches against the out lying areas of the village:
Tomorrow is another early day, with some other things on the go, but hopefully a good night’s rest will cure some of the muscle strains and soreness from today!