14 Jul

Growing your own olives

With Jenny Watts,

The graceful olive tree captures the exotic beauty and fabulous flavor of the Mediterranean. This tree offers evergreen beauty, fragrant spring blooms, plenty of succulent fruit, and a distinctive look for any sunny spot.

Olive trees were introduced to California by the Franciscan fathers who planted the “Mission” olive. Dozens of other varieties have since come to California from Spain, Italy and France as well as new varieties.

Olive trees are slow-growing and keep their leathery, gray-green leaves year-round. The small, yellowish-white flowers are borne in clusters usually in May. Late spring frosts can kill the blossoms. The variety “Lucca,” developed at U.C. Davis, has good frost resistance, and “Mission” flowers in late May. These may be the best fruiting varieties for our area. Varieties grown for olive oil are less prone to frost damage, and will be the most successful here. The olive requires a long, hot growing season to properly ripen the fruit which matures in October and November.

Some varieties that are good for oil include “Frantoio” which is self-fertile and highly productive and comes from the Tuscany region of Italy. “Coratina,” also from Italy, is a very hardy and productive tree but needs a pollenizer, such as “Frantoio,” to set fruit.

“French Picholine” bears fruit that is harvested green for table olives and black for oil production. ‘Mission’ is a vigorous tree used in green and black pickling as well as oil production.

Olive trees also make fine ornamental trees. They are well adapted to hot, dry summers. The olive tree is drought resistant and, once established, which takes about three years, landscape trees need no summer watering. However, irrigation is necessary for larger crops of fruit. A monthly deep watering will keep trees healthy and productive.

Olive trees grow well in the landscape planted with other Mediterranean shrubs like lavenders, rosemary, salvias and rock roses. Penstemons, lavender cotton and germander make complementary accents.

Plant olive trees in full sun and away from sidewalks to avoid stains from fallen ripe fruit. They will grow well in almost any well-drained soil.

Olive trees can be grown with a single trunk or multiple trunks. Multiple trunk trees tend to grow wider, but are very picturesque. Single trunk trees may be better for olive production. Shaking the trunk to make the fruit fall from the tree is one method of harvesting.

Olive trees are a part of California history and although many beautiful trees have given way to modern development, you can carry on an old tradition by adding majestic olive trees to your landscape or orchard.

Gardening tips

* Start seeds of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and other cool-season crops now. Transplant them to the garden next month and they will be producing for you this fall.

* Fuchsias will bloom all summer if you remove faded flowers and seed pods and fertilize every ten days with a liquid fertilizer like Miracle Gro.

* Penstemon are bushy, evergreen perennials that attract hummingbirds with their red, pink, lavender or purple trumpet-shaped flowers all summer and fall.

* Zinnias love the heat and will add a rainbow of color to your garden and the deer don’t like them.

* Thin fruit trees after “June drop” when the trees partially thin themselves. Thin apples to 6 inches apart and peaches to 4 inches apart. Pears don’t need thinning.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenny Watts is a California Certified Nursery Professional and co-owner of Sanhedrin Nursery in Willits.
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4 Responses to “Growing your own olives”

  1. Hossein Mobaraki Says:

    Where can I find Frantoio olive trees to buy for my home?
    Thank you.

  2. Olives101 Says:

    Where do you live ?

    You can start here :
    http://www.google.com/search?q=Frantoio+olive+trees

  3. picker for olives Says:

    Dear gentlemen,

    We are informing you that our e-mail address has been changed. The new address is elektronik@tresac.co.rs
    Since 2000 we are producing pickers for cherries, plums, olives, filberts….At the market of former Yugoslavia (Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina,Iran,Jordan,Bolgaria…) we have sold more than 50 our products which were accepted well by our customers. With one machine and 4 to 5 workers our machine skims and shakes off between 800 and 1100 trees in 10 to 12 hours. A short movie describing how machine works in practice you can see at YouTube if you search for “BERAC ZA VISNJE I SLJIVE”, or you can click on the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98jXoprB_os. If you are interested in our machine or you have any other suggestion for further cooperation please feel free to contact us. The price of the Picker is 13.000 euro FCO Serbia.

    SZR “ELEKTRONIK”
    Street: Ljubivoja Gajica No:60
    Place: Sopot
    Country: Serbia
    Tel: +381 11 8254 100
    Fax: +381 11 8254 155
    Site: http://www.tresac.co.rs
    e-mail: elektronik@tresac.co.rs
    ing. S. Petrovic
    Contact person for english:
    Bozovic Ilija
    mob: +381 64 28 04 105
    e-mail: elektronik@tresac.co.rs

  4. Lucie Says:

    Do you know if I could grow olive trees in Idaho? They are truly beautiful trees and I would love to grow some, we have very harsh winters here though, so I am not sure about olives?

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