It was olives that bridged the gap amongst the high tech haven of Palo Alto and the Texas Mountain Country heaven of Wimberley for Jack Dougherty. Mr. Dougherty had a distinguished career in the high tech sector and at one point supervised well over 1, 000 personnel. But his heart was always in the fruit coppice and nut bearing groves near his boyhood Madero Alto home.
In Jack’s case, it seems you just can not take the country out of the boy and he made his approach to Texas and Wimberley as soon as he could. He still journeys the world in search of information and technology, and techniques about olives, but his home and his heart are now with Bella Vista Ranch near Wimberley, Texas.
We took a good tour of Bella Vista Ranch a few weeks ago and sitting in amazement as he explained the story of olives to us and a few others gathered under some are living oak trees sitting on picnic tables right smack in the middle of one of the premier olive groves in Texas plus the USA. We had no idea we had stumbled upon one of the premier gurus of the olive world right there in Wimberley.
As they told the history of olives, he related that the first person who ever tasted an olive was probably not impressed. Natural olives contain an alkaloid that makes them very unhealthy and unedible. Some ancient civilization discovered that soaking these people in brine removes the bad taste.
Olives have been around since way back when, but until recently they were just a condiment you provided with your meals or at a party as an appetizer. ?t had been in the 19902s that health organizations took notice on the health benefits, specifically our heart health. With this discovery, brand-new diets emerged using Olive Oil in their recipes.
Olive harvesting originated in the Mediterranean, but as the economy changed so does the use of the land that olives were grown. In the United States, The state of california is our major grower of both green and even black olives, but due to the high prices of territory, the olive growing is also shrinking. So now Olive people are looking for less expensive land to grow olives to produce the organic to meet the increasing demand.
It is apparent that Mister. Dougherty has spent a lot of time researching olives. There is a record written by George Ray McEachern and Larry A. Stein, Extension Horticulturists from Texas A & M University or college titled ‘Growing Olives in Texas Gardens’, where that they talk about growing Olives in Texas. They talk about where climate is good in Texas, and all about what olive trees and shrubs need to survive. They limited the areas to East, Key, and South Texas. But that was about it. Mr. Dougherty kept on with his research and settled in on the Wimberley area as being ideal. He did have some concerns in regards to the weather, but the soil conditions seemed to be similar to ideal olive growing locations in other parts of the world. Not too many olives are generally grown in Texas north of San Antonio.
Typically the Bella Vista Ranch fits all the criteria for being capable to grow olives. The soil has a lot of caliche helping to make for great drainage and the temperature doesn’t dip to cold very often or for long periods of time. There are over 1, 000 Olive trees on the ranch today.
There are 16 distinct varieties of olive trees grown at the grove, with the Ohio Mission Olive as the tree of choice which is primarily produced at the Bella Vista Ranch.
Here are a few things we come across olives and olive production in Texas. Olive woods were brought to the New World by the Spanish. They initial arrived in Mexico and then made their way from there towards California with missionaries where the trees were first placed in 1769. The olive trees were known as Vision olives because they were grown in olive groves near to the missions. This variety no longer exists in Spain, but is famous in California and Texas. Using Mission Olives presents Olive Oil a very long shelf life.
The weather has not always cooperated with the Bella Vista Ranch olive trees. In fact some late freeze almost put the Olive ranch out of business. Among the to cut back and replace almost all their olive trees. Other problems were that Olives are an alternating fruit producer, which means some years there are more olives produced than others, and you have to hand pick the olives and pruning is very important. Olive forest grow very rapidly and if the tree grows out of hand, the nutrients are used by the tree for the growth but not the fruit. The Olive trees need to be kept pruned.
The Olive tree produces fruit in a fascinating technique, the blooms create the olive cluster, then only 1 or 2 olives that are the strongest continue to expand and hang from the tree. They go through a color alter from green to red, Jack can look at the tree together with decide from the texture of the skin and the color if it is time to pick the entire tree. The olives gathered via each tree will be a combination of olives from green so that you can red and even dark red. With all the different stages of ripened olives, when pressed together should make a very healthy olive oil.
When harvesting the olives, since they have to be side picked, they will start at the bottom of the tree and decide on as high as they can reach. Then they will use ladders to pick far more. The last step they will use is to lay out tarps or maybe nets at the bottom of the tree and use a device in which looks like a little rake to comb through the tree and once the olives fall to the ground, they are gathered from the tarps.