Spring has reached its peak in our organic farm, and nature is very busy at recovering from a cold late winter, and making the most before the summer drought.
Cherry trees are fully in bloom, attracting bees and other pollinators.
Almond trees flowered a couple of months ago and the tiny and hairy almonds are now slowly growing.
In contrast, olive trees have been hit quite severely by late winter frosts, so they still look sleepy, almost without new shoots. Unfortunately, the damage caused by frost will certainly affect productivity, which means that this year we will certainly produce less extra virgin olive oil than last year. The loss will only become clearer over the forthcoming months.
The natural green soil cover includes a wide range of plant species belonging to the local flora, most of which are now flowering. This incredible biodiversity is the result of the specific soil management practices that we are applying at Selvanuova:
- we don't apply herbicides, as these would annihilate biodiversity and select only few tolerant or resistant species;
- we don't till the soil, as this would jeopardise many soil organisms and expose soil organic matter to rapid degradation, but we control the growth of wild plants by trimming them;
- we don't apply chemical fertilisers, that would release high amounts of nutrients (in particular, nitrogen compounds) in a short time lapse, thus favouring few plant species at the expense of biodiversity. In contrast, we apply organic fertilisers, which tend to increase soil organic matter and release nutrients gradually;
- we do not burn prunings, but we trim them, thus increasing soil organic matter.
Wild plants growing at Selvanuova include some delicious edible species, such as the wild asparagus (Asparagus acutifolius).
Dry stone features contribute to increasing ecological stability of our organically managed olive groves, for instance by creating microhabitats for wildlife, in particular reptiles such as the Italian wall lizard (Podarcis sicula), which feeds on a wide range of insects, including olive tree pests.
Some dry stone features, such as traditional huts (locally called "trulli") are real pieces of art and remind us old times.
Over the winter we have installed several nest boxes, targeting different bird species: small nest boxes with entrance hole fit for tits and sparrows, and large nest boxes with entrance hole fit for the scops owl, the European roller and the hoopoe. Nest boxes have been installed both on trees and on an electricity pylon located in one of our olive groves. In order to avoid disturbance, we will monitor them later in June.