A Short Lesson in Chemistry!

A Short Lesson in Chemistry!

You may know the popular novel and TV show that tell the tale of a woman chemist in the world of higher education, romance, and television. Well, today, we offer you a Capay Valley Lavender “lesson in chemistry” - about our maturing olive grove. 

In 2021, we planted 2,500 baby olive trees of 5 different varieties and have been carefully tending them through the seasons. In February, I nipped off 100 leaves from each cultivar and sent them off for their required testing. They were examined for a balance of nutrients and organic material. 

Now, for our short lesson in chemistry. (Oh, this FarmHer loves this “stuff”!) The good news? Our cover crop has done its job of providing Nitrogen, which helps plants grow stems, leaves, and blossoms! Other news? The trees need more Potassium to help plants move water and sugar inside themselves and resist drought, disease, and pests. 

So, this week, the team and I have been working on grove “fertigation”. Of course, this combination of fertilization and irrigation requires some preparation. 

First, purchase a plain old paint mixer from the hardware store. Then, hop on the riding mower/tiny tractor and cart everything to the water tanks. Then, mix/dissolve the Potassium into 5-gallon buckets (which took more than 30 minutes for each bucket!) Finally, inject the mixture into the Venturi system to feed the trees. 

A little more chemistry: The ratio of Potassium powder to water is 5 pounds to five gallons – and we need 500 pounds of Potassium to feed 10 acres of olive trees over the next four weeks. And our trees are very happy! Green and gorgeous leaves, branches covered with blooms.

We expect luscious olives this Fall. Although we won’t be ready for a commercial harvest, we will invite our friends to hand-harvest this first crop with us.

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