Aliens at Galenia

Not quite the aliens we imagine flying around in UFO’s or those with an appearance of ET, but invasive species of plants on the estate.

 

Unfortunately in many areas around the world this has become a problem, with many invasive, exotic or alien species taking over waterways, environments and habitats. In doing so these plants rapidly expand their territory and in turn begin to push out their indigenous neighbours. Some species even use chemical warfare in order to secure themselves. Referred to as antibiosis or allelopathy the invasive species release chemicals into the soil therefore deriving full benefit for themselves whilst harming any other species and preventing them from growing.

 

We have started to remove as many of these invasive alien species on the estate as possible, and to try and rehabilitate and encourage indigenous growth. One of the species on our target list, which we have been removing quite regularly, is Sisal Agave sisalana. A native species of Mexico, and used widely for the production of hemp, rope, string and other binding material, which is obtained from the strong fibres of the plant. However, planted for agriculture in many parts of Africa and Madagascar for this use, it does run wild if left, and spreads incredibly quickly.

So a difficult one to stay on top of, but we remove them roots and all, trying to avoid the irritating thorns, which is not easy, and then taking to the refuse dump, where they dispose of it.

 

The battle continues!

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Transformation of the Patio

One of the enhancements we have all agreed needs to happen is to have the ability to serve dinner in the evenings for guests staying with us.

So with us deciding to start this when we relaunch, on 1st September, we all felt that the patio or stoep (Afrikaans word) would be the best venue, being spacious and enjoying great views of the estate.

 

Open stoeps in the Western Cape can be idyllic one moment and either a wind tunnel or freezing cold the next, so we have come to the conclusion that frameless folding glass doors are the way forward. This will allow us to always have a view outwards, no matter the weather and conditions outside.

 

The first steps are underway, we have removed the existing brick paving, dropped and compacted the foundation, before rebuilding it up to the right height for the new tiled floor that will be an extension to the tiles we have in the main areas.

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Olives

On first sight it was the impressive Cape Dutch style main house and the accompanying cottages of the hospitality business that attracted us to the property. It then became obvious that the entire estate had been maintained and cared for with an extraordinary passion by the previous owners. The stunning Langeberg mountain scenery, the far flung vistas of the Klein Karoo, the peace, privacy and tranquillity – all combined to make it a ‘no brainer’ that this would be perfect for our first investment into the Western Cape.

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Oh, and there is also a grove of 1000 olive trees – an added advantage – their grey/green foliage blowing in the winds looking like an ocean – very decorative. We all know about olives trees – they can last for centuries, need no attention, produce fruit every year and make the beautiful and healthy Extra Virgin Olive Oil – what could be better?

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We know a little better now – in fact the olives look as though they are going to define our year – with the pruning, irrigating, pest and disease controlling, picking, sorting, processing, pressing, packaging and marketing it certainly is full on. At the moment we are about half way through our picking season with our Frantoio trees (small black olives for oil) mostly harvested, our Mission trees ( larger egg-shaped, pointy black olives for processing and oil) about half way and our Manzanilla trees (apple shaped green olives for processing and when black for oil) now ripening and ready for pressing.

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The olive press, new to us this season, has been working overtime as we try to press the day’s harvest – as the best Extra Virgin Olive Oil needs to be pressed as soon as possible after the olives have been picked. A test of our Frantoio single cultivar oil shows an acidity of 0.19 which is excellent and shows that we are on track to produce both single cultivar and blended Extra Virgin Olive Oils of exceptional quality.

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But there is still a way to go before we have selected the bottles, jars, tins, labels etc. Then of course our processed olives take up to eight months to ferment so it will be a while before the Galenia olives and Galenia Olive Oil is ready for sale. Hopefully by the time we reopen on 1st September we will be ready with the boutique selection of oils to be followed by the green and black processed table olives and tapenades.

Karin is already experimenting with the new season’s oils – amazingly each cultivar has its own particular taste – some perfect for dressing salads, others to drizzle over hot vegetables and – believe it or not some even suitable for ice cream. Diners at Galenia are going to be under no illusions that they are staying on an olive estate – maybe even a glug of healthy extra virgin olive oil in their breakfast smoothy!