Yesterday our crew - led by Arturo Barragan-Rojas - was working its way up the driveway to the winery completing the pruning of the Mission trees planted along the roadway and in the small orchard near the parking area.
With this last symbolic step, we have completed pruning the several thousand trees located in nine major orchards across the ranch.
Olive trees produce fruit only on last year's wood. So, keeping an ample supply of new wood is part of the art form in pruning an olive tree. Because new wood grows only where there is sunlight on a branch, our skilled team works to open up a tree to light and air "so that a small bird can fly through."
We are vigilant in keeping each tree to less than 14 feet in height (which is the limit we can safely harvest).
Over the next few days, the prunings will be chipped while the wood is still green and moist. The chips will be used for mulch, cover for paths, or as an additional source of carbon in our composting system. The compost will supply fresh fertilizer for the orchards in the fall.
Our orchards also have a gorgeous cover crop of clovers that is now in full bloom. As legumes, the clovers are fixing nitrogen from the air into the soils. This valuable nitrogen will be made available to the orchards for the coming growing season - a key component of our sustainable farming system.
On sunny spring days the clovers are filled with bees which are pollinating the seed heads which, in turn, will provide seed for next seaon's cover crop. And, at the same time, the bees are gathering buckets of pollen to make a bountiful crop of honey.
We'll harvest the honey at the end of the summer (between the grape and olive harvest), which will then be sold at LMR Rutherford Gardens.
I love watching these interlocking cycles of life at work.