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olive tree based food forest  RSS feed

 
gary gregory
Posts: 395
Location: northern california, 50 miles inland from Mendocino, zone 7
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Here's the premise:

Existing over-grazed pasture > no till cover crop applied this fall > olive tree based food forest planted early next spring.  Approx 2 acres.

1. What's a good cover crop in preparation for a food forest?

2. How do you harvest olives from 50 trees in a food forest?  (In a sane and cost effective manner?)

3. What are the best olive tree companions?

4. Everything else I forgot to ask?
 
Todd Hoff
Posts: 63
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Great resource here - 106 Acre Profitable Permaculture Farm – Interview with Mark Shepard - http://groaction.com/discover/2581/mark-shepard-interview-profitable-permaculture/.

He doesn't monocrop with just one kind of tree, he uses multiple kinds, which sounds like a really good idea.

Picking the olives by hand for so few trees seems to make the most sense. Special shaking machinery would be a bit expensive.

Does prepping the soil make that big a difference for trees? They will get their nutrients by sinking roots deep into the ground, so I don't know if the cover crop approach is a big win. But I don't really know.

 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
12
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"
1. What's a good cover crop in preparation for a food forest?"

whatever cover crop grows best in the area, or preferably more than one.

"2. How do you harvest olives from 50 trees in a food forest?  (In a sane and cost effective manner?)"

if you set the trees up so nets can be strung up under the trees, the olives will fall into the net. if you create a low spot with a bucket the olives will roll and go into the bucket. walk around empty buckets as needed.

"3. What are the best olive tree companions?"

here we have lavender, purslane, chia, salvias, sages, tomatoes, and lots and lots of herbs.

 
Isaac Hill
gardener
Posts: 356
Location: Beaver County, Pennsylvania (~ zone 6)
9
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3 - Olive trees have shallow roots, so it seems like some more deep rooted plants would work well - maybe intersperse the olives with walnuts or some other nut? Also, you'll need nitrogen fixing trees, acacias are always good, eleagnus gives you a fruit crop. Look at what other people plant with olives - figs, pomegranates, dates?
 
John Polk
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Since you specified a fall sowing of a cover crop, I would recommend either Hairy Vetch, or Austrian Winter Peas.  They are both legumes, and therefore will fix a lot of Nitrogen in your soil.  Either one should do quite well over-winter in zone 7, and provide a lot of bio-mass by spring time.  Being legumes, that bio-mass will breakdown quickly after chop-and-drop (high C:N ratio).

If you would like to study cover crops in detail, I highly recommend this (free downloadable PDF) book:
http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Books/Managing-Cover-Crops-Profitably-3rd-Edition

As far as compatible plants, I spent a lot of time in South America (on an egg farm) in an agricultural region that had two main crops:  Olives, and Grapes!  Generally a climate and soil that does well for one, will do well for the other.  It seemed that each vineyard had a few olive trees, and each orchard had some vines growing.  The Mediterranean herbs also grow quite well in such a region...just look at the cuisines of Italy, Greece and Spain to see what will go well with olives!

Good luck...if you can grow olives, you can eat well.
 
Andi Stewardson
Posts: 1
Location: Sierra Nevada Spain
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Bit late with this but it might be useful to someone. We're several years down the road of turning our olive and almond grove into a food forest. Some other suggestions as to what might go well with olives are:
Globe artichokes which have been grown traditionally here with olives for centuries.
Olivada (dittrichia viscosa) as its known in this part of Spain. According to research done at the University of Granada (sorry no link) olivada is supposed to attract insects that attack the Olive fly which is a major pest in these parts but be warned the plant is very invasive.
Some nitrogen fixing trees such as carob which generally grows well in similar conditions to olives.
Broom. Also very invasive but can be very useful as a nitrogen fixer and a pioneer. Supposedly will die out as the bigger trees create shade.

Be careful about planting anything that's going to hamper the use of nets for harvesting ie plants with spikes and thorns.

Also have a look at this link
about a 2000 year old food forest in Morocco. Food forests were a traditional form of agricultural throughout the Arab world in which date palms were used as the over story tree with olives beneath. It's probably what an oasis really is.
 
Lorenzo Costa
steward
Posts: 791
Location: Italy, Siena, Gaiole in Chianti zone 9
205
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hi i Have on my land 180 olive trees. I have been observing what grows under them so to manage to establish a polyculture under them forming a guild that has the olive tree at the center.
i can tell you that under my plants I have seen spontaneous plants of the allium family, wild leaks very similar to the ones one puts annually but smaller, wild daucus carota, mint and other aromatic plants.
I guess inder one can cultivate well asparagus follow the link:

olive tree based food forest

i can't manage to publish the address in a shorter way but here you find a .pdf on how to cultivate well, olives, wild asparagus with chicken, it is governement based progect in umbria, interesting to read. I know maybe you don't know italian but still i think it is worth trying to translate some parts. if you copy the address and you paste on your browser it will download the document.
hope to have helped a bit.

Edited by moderator to shorten link and keep page a sensible width.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1621
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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How to post pretty/shortened links

Click the URL button
Paste the long link address into the first box
Type the pretty shortened name into the second.

Your link is: now shortened like this.

Regarding olive groves:
I spent some time in portugal recently and witnessed olive groves continually grazed by cattle to the extent that there were bare patches of earth and erosion. The soil was deep red and sandy with very very little organic matter. I thought at the time that switching the grazing to Allan Savory style high density mob grazing would do wonders to heal this land. Perhaps you could consider the same?
 
Lorenzo Costa
steward
Posts: 791
Location: Italy, Siena, Gaiole in Chianti zone 9
205
books forest garden trees woodworking
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thanxs for the address pasting solution. I think that we will have to somehow find the way to create a stable model of olive tree guild. it can't be so difficult. one just has to put a few things together. i'll think about it and post any idea I come up with.
 
Laura Kahya
Posts: 1
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My family have an olive far, aprox 10 acers, which has been ploughed ( Turned over) every year for many years, I would like to stop this practice and plant some symbiotic spicies ( we are on the SW coast of Turkey ) that will be both beneficial to the olive trees and non toxic to my 2 horses. Has any one got any ideas?
 
Rich Panciera
Posts: 3
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Everyone should be forewarned about the disease called "Verticillium Wilt". It is highly recommended to never plant anything from the nightshade genus (Solanum spp. - tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants), cucumbers (Cucumis spp.) or cotton where they would share roots with an olive tree. It is not treatable and you don't want to watch your hundreds year old tree wither away
for some tomatoes.
http://www.oliveoilsource.com/page/disease-control#verticillium
From what I have recently heard there is a tradition in south Italy for planting cereals between the trees.
 
Michael Bushman
Posts: 144
Location: Sacramento, CA
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In California, the olive fruit fly is now endemic and you will not get any black olives that are marketable as they will be filled with maggots. If I sound bitter, I am as last year we brought some land with a beautiful olive and had a massive bumper crop of ...rotted fruit. You can still press the green ones for oil but it will have a lot of protein due to the maggots. There are commercial ways of dealing with it but they all involve spraying and other things most of us are not excited about.

 
Rich Panciera
Posts: 3
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Here in Spain the Olive Fly can be a problem also. It's really common to see plastic bottles hanging in the trees that have a solution in the bottom. The solution is more of an attractant then the olives themselves and the flies drown in it. In fact, I read somewhere that this method was developed here. Apparently it's very effective. It's talked about here. Also completely organic as the chemicals don't touch the tree or the ground. There is also a plant called "False Yellowhead" (Dittrichia viscosa) that goes by the name of Olivada here. It's got an old special relationship with the trees, apparently, as it turns out it hosts the Lacewing and another Olive Fly predator (can't remember what) in it's dried flowers. We don't have any on our land but are looking hard for it. It's supposed to be a pretty tough pioneer and invasive in other parts of the world.
 
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