Ever wonder what happens to the leftovers once olives have been turned into olive oil ?

Villasfor2 is bang in the middle of a big olive growing area. Our land’s bordered by olive groves, (producing the oil that you’ll find waiting in your Abruzzo holiday villa), and we own a few trees ourselves.

Olive oil production is big business. For most of the local farmers, it’s their main source of annual income.

Once the harvest starts each November, all the frantoio – olive presses – in our area work round the clock for five or six weeks to turn the local olives into oil.

Some of olive residue gets re-used as animal feed and there’s a fledgling industry recycling olive stones as pellets for wood-burning stoves.

But most of this organic waste – plus all the leaves and twigs that get sorted out in the cleaning process before pressing – just goes begging.

Our nearest frantoio is delighted to give us this wonderful natural resource for free. You’d be amazed how much accumulates at just one press from one harvest. It took our friend Rocco, hauling his very biggest trailer behind his tractor, four trips up and down the hill last Sunday to clear it all.

Piles of leafy garden goodness !At the moment, four big dark brown heaps are sitting in the sun. Walk past and you get a rich and fruity scent – rather like a good Christmas pudding.

Over the next few weeks, this wonderful mix will be used as a soil conditioner to improve the heavy clay in our garden, vegetable patch and orchard and to mulch – and so conserve water – around our newly-planted fruit-trees and roses.

Any left over will gently rot down over the summer and be dug into the soil in the autumn.

First to be mulched were the roses in front of your Abruzzo holiday villas. Next it’ll be the turn of the Oleanders planted round the swimming pool; the areas of trees and shrubs that it’s more practical to mulch rather than grass-over.

Then our orchard and vegetable plot will get a generous supply to be worked into the soil.Over the summer, the leaves will turn from their current dark brown into an attractive silvery-grey.

By autumn, virtually everything will have been absorbed into the soil and the cycle starts over.

This’d be good practice in any garden; but in our Abruzzo garden – which on our arrival was basically not much more than an acre of weeds – it’s not only a crucial source of nutrition for the soil, but a fantastic way of recycling a green, sustainable, (and free !), organic material.