A gift from the Gods, growing olives is so satisfying if not to enjoy their fruit but to use their silver grey-green foliage to complement many different garden situations. Olive trees can be easily pruned to create topiary, hedge, espalier and potted features.
Planting & fertilising olive trees
Olive trees can be grown for their fruit but many gardeners are well acquainted with their evergreen silver grey-green foliage and tidy habit. Olives flourish in cool winters with hot dry summers with low humidity. They are tolerant of winds, coastal salt spray, medium frosts and dry conditions. They need some cooling time to be more productive. Though they are ideally grown in a Mediterranean climate, olive varieties suitable for subtropics and even tropical are available but are prone to pests and diseases if not kept away from high humidity. ‘Arbequina’ is a reliable bearer in warm climates. It is self-pollinating and doesn’t take too long to produce their first fruit cache. Check with your local nursery expert in these areas for the best variety. Olives can be planted in the garden as a standard, in large pots or trained as a topiary, hedge or as a espalier feature.
Olive trees produce better yields and brave unfavourable conditions in soil enriched with manures and a balanced NPK ratio. 5 IN 1 Organic Fertiliser is rich in organic animal manures, blood and bone, organic fertilisers and trace elements for fruit production and healthy root growth. Mix 5 IN 1 Organic Fertiliser into existing soil before planting and reapply over the soils’ surface around the dripline once a year before flowering to replenish the nutrients used the previous season. In spring, olive trees will benefit from an extra NPK feed with Searles Fruit & Citrus Plant Food to boost flowering. Use Searles Premium Potting Mix for olive planting in large pots.
Watering olive trees
Olive trees don’t like wet feet, but require sufficient soil moisture during their flowering season in Winter and Spring to produce better flower and fruit set. Mulching is best practice to ensure reduced water loss and weed suppression. As the tree matures give tree roots a deep soaking so the water reaches down deep.
Pruning olive trees
Olive trees will need pruning after harvesting to keep their vigour and produce new wood for the fruit to grow on for the following season. Prune crowded branches from the centre of the canopy to let light and air flow throughout the tree. This will assist fruit ripening and less places for pests and diseases to go unnoticed.
Harvesting and pickling olives
Olive trees start fruiting, depending on variety, from four to five years old. The fruits are ready for harvesting from Autumn to early Winter. Freshly picked olives are bitter to taste and have to be pickled in brine before preserved for eating. For black olives wait until they past the olive green stage and turn purply black but are still firm. Green olives can be picked earlier. Both can be pickled.
Basic brine Recipe:
👉100grams of salt to 1L of cooled, boiled water.
👉The olives need to be fully submerged in clean jars for 3 months.
👉Suggested additives – lemons, oregano, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and white wine vinegar.