Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Olive Clean-up

Another olive season has passed without any curing or pressing of olives at Camp Ramshackle. It's not for lack of desire to use the olives but because of this:

This is the larvae of the Mediterranean Olive fly. The only organic way to fight it is to spray with an organic bug spray called Spinosad and use a specific kind of yeast in traps that will hopefully keep the populations down. We don't want to spray our trees with anything and I just haven't gotten around to ordering the yeast tablets to bait traps with. My plan is to cut the tree's down to a manageable size, then use the bait to catch as many of the flies as possible before the next big fruiting season (they happen every two years) Maybe by then we'll have our act together and can actually make better use of the fruit.

For now though it all just goes to the compost. Six wheel barrows so far this season with probably another six to go. I know, it's a shame but we'll get it figured out sooner or later.


  1. Maybe I'm crazy, but couldn't you still press these for oil, even with the little helpers inside them? It seems like you would still get oil out, which could be separated and boiled hard to pasteurize and then be fine.

    Then again I just read a bit about the process of extraction on Wikipedia and it looks really difficult. I don't blame you for tossing them.

  2. I actually thought about that. I wouldn't eat the oil - heat ruins olive oil and it would have had lots of worms. but I thought it could be used for lamp oil or something else non-consumable. If we can't get the bugs under control that might be our only option.

  3. The folks over at Sunset Magazine's One Block Diet team olive are also having a very bad time with the olive fly ( see their latest post Dec 2010

    How big is this fly? Would wrapping the tree in a super small mesh fabric like tulle be effective?

    It was Sunset's first post about the fly that has been keeping me from ordering olive trees, even though I want them very much. I have an article stuffed away somewhere in the archives about wrapping apples in peds (you know- those nylon-y things that ladies try on shoes with) when the apples are roughly the size of a walnut--this keeps the coddling moth from depositing eggs, but as the fruit grows the ped stretches and thins out so that the apples will ripen. This seems like a good organic method and it's the main reason why I'm espaliering my trees, but obviously, you can't wrap every single olive this way. But I'm wondering if the tulle, or maybe a very light Agribon would do the trick for you.

    My question would be how to time it- when do the trees get pollinated by bees (If they even need that- do they? Are they parthenocarpic?) and when do the olive files show up?

    I will be really interested to see how you guys fare with this. But twelve wheel barrow full! That has to be heartbreaking!

  4. I think tulle would have too large of openings. I've got this problem in LB, too. I tried spraying with Surround (recommended by some IPM sites) but could not get good adhesion on the oily olive fruit. On the upside, though, Surround turned out to be quite useful for dealing with cherry slugs and a few other fruit tree pests I've had trouble with. What supplier are you planning to use for the bait pellets? They're on my list this year too. My tree is in the front yard, so DH is opposed to wrapping the tree. (But honey, we could put up a funny sign about safe sex in the garden...)

  5. Do you make soap? Olive oil makes phantastic soap, and it would be heated during the process anyway, so hopefully all fly-leftovers would be destroyed.

    My 2 cents...

  6. We don't make soap but have thought about that. That's a great idea Kitchenlady!


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