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Photo Article: The Tools of the olive pruning trade and an frigana tree meets death via me

Tom Winnifrith
Saturday 28 May 2016

I leave Greece for a few days with, I think, almost 80% of the olive trees now pruned. my hands are covered in scratches and cuts and I am not sure that I shall win any prizes for my pruning but I think I am getting there.

The tools of the trade are below. The shaving foam canister is just there to show you how small my axe and saw are. I wield one in each hand. One of the few advantages of my Victorian era primary school teacher forcing me to start writing with my right hand when I was a natural "leftie" is that I can swap hands when olive pruning. I can pull the same trick on a Squash court in extremis.

The idea - I think - is that you cut off any branch, shoot or twig that is not going to yield any olives or will yield so few it is not worth it. There are the small sprouts at the base of the tree which you take out with the axe. Where the tree has not been pruned for years these can be rather big. And then there are shoots and twigs along the branches. You start bending to the floor. You end reaching to the heights. It is tiring.I am sure I cut a few branches in error and maybe missed some I should have hacked but when the Shepherd examined my work he seemed to approve.

At the end of the fields at the Greek Hovel is a large frigana tree. This accursed plant can start as a small shoot. It is mainly a shrub up to a yard high. But left unchecked it can turn into a tree. As a final act of part 1 of this Greek trip I took my saw to it and removed half its branches. This monster knows it is now in retreat...part two to follow!

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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