The olive tree

 

The abbaye de Valsaintes is at 600 metres, which is also the limit for Olive-growing in Provence. The Cistercian monks, who were the fore-runners of agriculture, understood well that the right exposure of the growing terraces to the sun would help this “immortal tree” to thrive.


Rediscovered in 1996 under a tangle of brambles which was depriving
them of vital sunlight, these Olive trees had frozen in 1956 (temperatures a slow as -25°C), but were putting out shoots from their root system. Since then we have been giving them all our attention so as to be able to enjoy a small harvest of black olives in January.


The variety of olive present all over the department is the Aglandau.

The olive, a treasure of Provence which gave its name to a hill in Manosque: the Mont d’Or (Hill of Gold)

 
Practical tip: The olive fruit fly

Olives can become unsuitable for consumption if they have been colonized by the Bactrocera oleae fly, an insect which is specific to the Olive tree and which lays its eggs inside the olives, so that it can feed on them.

Too many insecticides (whose traces can be found in the oil) are still used to combat this scourge which is due to intensive growing. If there were enough insectivorous birds and a plant (Inula viscosa) which hosts a parasite of the Olive fruit fly, the populations of this insect would remain at a tolerable level.

 

The olive fruit fly: Bactrocera oleae

 

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