Monday, February 28, 2011

A Trevi rubicon crossed?

Yesterday was the second market of the year and I for the first time noticed a number of people arriving at the market with shopping bags ie. knowing the market was on and coming to buy. I have not noticed this before. previously the buying seemed accidental. This I think bodes well for the future of the market and hopefully will encourage the current stallholders and others.

I quick aside to say that it was by far the coldest market I have ever done. 3 degrees, no wind and that seeping penetrating coldness that is just seriously unpleasant.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The current view around Trevi

Many many olives groves now look like this around Trevi. The trees themselves look denuded and you often think that they have pruned a bit hard.

You'll notice the snow on the hills in the background. This together with a NNE wind means it is very sharp outside despite the clear skies and sun.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bhudda like I was

Another day fertilising the trees and another hundred or so done. It was another bright sunny day but also cold so a nice job to do. Putting the pellets on the upper side of the tree gives you a chance to look at it and consider how you will prune it. "Trim that, lop that off, get rid of that branch entirely, clear those branches away".

 All of which slows the process down to a very slow contemplative afternoon in the grove.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chopping logs

Today was chainsawing an old olive into these pieces and then axing these into logs for next winter. This is good exercise on a very cold day as it was today and very good for your benessere (wellbeing) as they say here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spring approaches

A little sign in the grove that spring is approaching and such a vivid colour compared to the green and silver of the olives and the grass.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Today was the first day of fertilising the trees and this is what we are using. It is biological and comes in pellet form. We apply 4 kilos per tree and more on some of our larger trees.

The pellets are spread on the upper side of the tree at the edge of the tress canopy. The rains then wash the fertiliser down into the soil to be absorbed by the trees roots.

This is the only treatment we give our trees. There is no spraying or any chemicals applied to the Casa Margherita grove. After fertilising it is down to nature.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

An new olive in the grove

Today I planted this olive in the Casa Margherita grove. Our grove has a number of gaps probably from when large number of trees died all over Umbria in the cold winters of 1986 and 1997. Where have said that we will gradually fill the gaps that exist in the grove and today was the first one.

I will leave the stake there for a couple of years to let is bed in. The stake is to stop it breaking in the wind and will be put to the test later in the week as we have18mph winds forecast.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Terrier pattern

At this time of year olive growers fertilise their trees using either animal dung or in the form of pellets. Our Westie likes both. The trouble is that something in the pellets makes her cost itchy and so we have about a month of her scratching all the time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

New pruning techniques or just bad pruning?

With the advent of hand held picking machines has come about a change in pruning techniques. These pickers are on long poles about 3 metres in length. This means the picker can reach quite a height.

When all trees were picked by hand the trees were kept low for ease of picking. The more you needed a ladder the longer the picking took.

Here we have a tree that has just been pruned and it has been allowed to grow very tall as it is picked by machine. However the growth is wispy and weak and the form of the tree is ugly. Picking by hand means the tree is kept low and ensures the growth is strong and vigorous.

I think whoever pruned this tree needs to relearn the old techiques as this tree will bear less and less fruit being allowed to grow like this.

Here at Casa Margherita, we still pick by hand and so keep the trees reasonably low.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Trevi waters run free

It's not often that local government gets credit for anything they do but the local Trevi council (comune) has  set up a water point where you can get mineral water, either still or fizzy, for free. At least to the end of March.

This is to reduce the amount of water bottles entering the rubbish system and to reduce the enormous environmental damage caused by water being transported all over Italy and indeed around the world.

I think this is a great initiative and hopefully is a great success. Tastes good too.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Going to be growing some of these this year in the Casa Margherita vegetable garden. I had a plate of them the other day for the first time ever. They are eaten like a salad both the roots and the leaves. They are a bit like radish but not strong. They look great on a plate and are quite different.

In english they are called rampion whilst in german they are called rapunzel which was the heroine of one of the  Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Olive leave and a new print

Rachel has decided to take a break from my olive ramblings and is traveling back to the island of the long white cloud as I speak for a short while.

But before she left she produced this etching of an olive tree.

It's available to buy at

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Olive terracing

This is some terracing in a grove below Casa Margherita. Years ago the hills would all have had terracing on, but with the advent of tractors and the fact they required not some small effort to maintain they have fallen down and largely disappeared.

From the terrain you can tell where they would have existed and indeed the landscape of this area would have looked very different. When you look at our hill it looks green with the grass below the trees and the trees themselves. If, however, you imagine quite a substantial amount of terracing then the grey of the stone above would make the view very different indeed.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Where is Casa Margherita?

If ever you wanted to know the exact location of Casa Margherita and the olive grove here then if you go to Google Maps and search for Casa Margherita, Trevi you will see our exact location.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


Today being the first Sunday of the month was the monthly antiques market in Pissignano which is situated between Trevi and Spoleto. The straight main street is lined with stallholders of all types.

Today it was very busy as was a sunny springlike day.

I have been hunting for sometime a kitchen knife handmade by a craftsman not something mass produced. Today I was in luck and I bought this beauty with a smooth olive wood handle.

I love to support businesses such as this that produce something of quality in a traditional way.

They have a shop in Marsciano and are online at

Friday, February 4, 2011

What a sunset tonight

Fantastic isn't it with the sliver of moon. Che bellezza as the Italians would say.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The prunings

Last year when we pruned the olives we tried to shred as much of the prunings as possible. The other option for us was to burn them which I'd really rather not do.

These prunings have now been composting for nearly a year and so are great as a compost or as a soil dressing.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Marmaduke developments

Yesterday evening Rachel walked back the studio to the house and Marmaduke followed here all the way down. He got a bit spooked when near the house but returned and has set up home in our boiler/washing room.

One of his siblings also came down later but did not stay the night like Marma. He is quite timid but is warm and has food and water.

His mother Bridget is pregnant again and so is becoming rough with the three kittens from her previous litter and so they will need to find homes before the new kittens arrive.

We would be happy to add Marma to our brood. Well see what happens over the next few days.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It can't go on

We have had a month of the new year and this blog has not mentioned olives in any form which is somewhat contrary to it's title.

Actually the olives themselves are dormant and I am not doing any work in the grove at present. At the end of February I will start pruning. Some of our neighbours have already started but I think this is just the case of idle hands combined with relatively benign weather.