With the promise of salty olives and rich, healthy oil at the end of the harvest season, many beginners and casual gardeners try their hand at growing olive trees on their own property. Following certain steps before and during olive tree growth ensures a healthier plant and a more fruitful growing experience. Selecting the correct location as well as proper planting, care, and harvesting are all part of the process.
Know the climate
Since olive trees are native to the Mediterranean, they flourish during long, hot summers and cool winters. Olive trees grow well in temperate climates and along coastal areas, but they cannot handle extreme frost. Try planting an olive tree in the fall to help it settle into the soil for growth the following spring. Getting the tree in the ground by April or May is also ideal, because planting in the middle of a hot summer can make it difficult to establish the tree.
Pick the right spot
Although olive trees can grow in poor soil with low amounts of nutrients, it is still important to give an olive tree well-drained and fertile soil to promote healthy growth. The olive tree requires a spot where it can receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily, away from strong winds that might blow it over. If the olive tree is growing in a pot either in home or garden, ensure that the pot is weighted and sturdy.
Preparing and planting an olive tree
Before planting an olive tree, remove it from the container and inspect the roots, unravelling and cutting any encircling roots. Otherwise, try not to disturb the root system. Water the olive tree sufficiently before moving on with the planting process.
Ready the soil
Testing the soil before planting can help ensure steady growth. Since olive trees prefer soil in a neutral range of 5.5 to 7.5 pH, understanding the nutrient composition of the soil helps gardeners choose the right spot for planting. After choosing a spot, gardeners should dig an individual hole in the soil with an auger.
Plant and fertilise
Plant the olive tree in the hole so that it sits slightly above ground level, and place about 2 to 3 cm of soil around the base, building a gradual slope. Fertilise the olive tree in early spring and late summer using a stable fertiliser to feed the tree and supplement the soil.
Maintenance and care
After establishing an olive tree, monitor and take care of it to promote healthy growth. If necessary, stake the tree to the earth to keep it steady once planting is complete.
Watering and pruning
Water the tree regularly to encourage healthy growth through the tree's development into adulthood. Although adult olive tress can tolerate droughts, they produce much healthier fruit if they have consistent watering. Prune the tree to support growth by cutting away low branches during the winter. If stems grow out too long, remove the tips.
Keeping pests away
Pests, such as olive lace bugs, can damage an olive tree during growth. Olive lace bugs are native to Australia and suck the sap from the underside of olive tree leaves, defoliating a tree and killing it after time. Keep them away by spraying the undersides of leaves with a garden chemical meant to deter the pests, such as organic pyrethrum.
A fungal disease called Peacock Spot can strip an olive tree of its foliage and cause sooty blotches to form on the leaves during winter. These spots can turn black and damage the tree's leaves. Treat Peacock Spot by spraying an infected tree with a copper fungicide in late autumn, and then continue to spray in early winter if the infection is severe.
Harvesting an olive tree
Olive trees are typically ready once they reach four or five years of age and start to grow fruit. Harvest the tree in the middle of autumn or the beginning of winter, picking green olives when they turn light green. Pick black olives when they turn completely black and have a firm texture. Gardeners can pick the olives by hand or simply shake the tree briskly and let the olives fall.
How to buy olive tree growing supplies on eBay
Before you begin an adventure in growing an olive tree, gathering the necessary supplies is essential. When you browse the vast inventory of options on eBay, you can find a variety of supplies from reliable sellers. Use the search box located on any page to look for supplies, such as an "auger" or "olive tree fertiliser". Contact sellers with questions before you buy so that you know exactly what you are getting. With the right gardening supplies, you can grow an olive tree with confidence.