Well, it’s time for us to fess up: Rachel & I have a secret. We planted some very special trees this year. As well as high density olives for oil, we are now growing Marcona almonds. Marconas are those extravagant blanched, roasted, and lightly salted nuts that one can find often next to a gourmet cheese section at the grocery store. Up until now, they have always been imported from Spain, and can rarely be found as Certified Organic. Not any more. Although we had to hold back planting them for almost a year because we were busy with the olives, they are now happily sending out roots into our orchard soil.
(We Like The Sound Of That)
We had originally assumed that we would have access to some extra acreage so that the Marconas could be planted as a normal almond orchard with regular wide spacing. Out of necessity however, we’ve planted them with the same trellis system the olives are planted to. That means we’ll be the originators of two more ‘firsts’: the first in California to ever try to espalier almond trees, and, the first to plant almonds to a high density planting system.
For those wondering what that is, in a high density system, semi-dwarf or dwarf varieties of a tree are planted very close together (a lot like a grape vineyard), and pruned back hard to compensate for the smaller space. Yields can often equal those produced by standard planting, but from less land.
Will this work? Well… I’m reaching for a piece of wood to knock on as I write.We expect our first harvest to be August of 2012. We can’t wait!