Olive Grove Nurseries Olive Tree Care Guide

Olive Tree Care Guide

CARING FOR YOUR OLIVE TREE

The Olive Tree is instantly recognisable as the quintessential Mediterranean tree and has become the plant you would associate with warm and sunny climates. It is perhaps surprising that the Olive Tree is an adaptable and hardy plant suitable for growing in a wide range of climates including the UK. To give your tree the best growing conditions, we have put together this informative care guide.

PLANTING AN OLIVE TREE

Whatever region you live in, always make sure that your Olive Tree is situated in the sunniest position possible, bearing in mind that the ideal location will usually face south or west and will have at least some protection from easterly and northerly winds.

Whilst the location of your Olive Tree is important, the type of soil you plant the tree in is also of importance.   An Olive Tree can become waterlogged easily, especially during wet seasons, therefore free-draining soil is essential.   Typically, Olive Trees are receptive to both alkaline and acidic soils but if the soil in your area is too sandy or nutrient-bare, thing about adding a bit of compost.   If your soil is high in clay content, think about more drainage or even a raised bed for your Olive Tree.   Olive trees can also grow successfully in containers for many years if properly cared for, however you will need to take extra caution with watering and repot it regularly.

WATERING AN OLIVE TREE

The one thing that Olive Trees cannot stand is ‘wet feet’.   Whether your Olive Tree is in the ground or in a container, it is essential that both the soil and the pot is free draining.   During the summer months it is best to water in small amounts but frequently, allowing the soil to dry out in between waterings.   Olive Trees are drought tolerant and can withstand long periods with little water.

There is normally no need to water Olive Trees during the winter, but make sure that the root ball does not dry out.   Protect from excess water during the winter period by covering the pot or the base of the tree.

FEEDING AN OLIVE TREE

We recommend that you feed your Olive Tree with a slow release fertisliser, ie Osmacote, in early Spring.   This will help to feed your tree during the growing season and prepare it for the colder months.   There is no need to feed your tree during the Winter, however we do recommend that you use a copper-based fungicide in Autumn to help prevent any fungal disease or damage.

PROTECTING OLIVE TREES IN WINTER

Mature Olive trees are quite hardy and will survive temperatures of up to -10oC for short periods without any added protection.   In areas of lower temperatures, your Olive Tree can be protected by several layers of horticultural fleece wrapped around the trunk and crown of the tree.

Like many plants grown in pots, Olive Trees have not yet evolved to tolerate frozen roots. To prevent this from happening wrap the pot in horticultural fleece and also at the crown to prevent too much water reaching your plant.

We recommend trees under the age of 6 years to be brought in during the winter months.   This is only because they are young and less hardy than the more mature Olive Trees.

You can purchase all your winter protection fleeces from Olive Grove Nurseries.

PRUNING AN OLIVE TREE

Olive trees are evergreen which literally means that as soon as you prune them, new shoots will grow from most of the cuts, therefore it is important to prune when the mildest months are approaching otherwise these new shoots will be too tender to withstand the colder periods.

Wait until early spring to prune your Olive Tree, beginning low at the base of the trees rather than the upper branches.   Olive Trees are notorious for prodigious growth of suckers all around the perimeter of the tree. Since these suckers divert strength from the growing flora, it is imperative to remove them.   Cut them as close to the trunk and soil as possible.   Next, stand at the trunk and look up.   Sunlight should be visible inbetween the OliveTree limbs and branches.   If you notice that there is a thick spot where too many branches are crowding out the daylight, you need to thin out the tree.   Failure to remove some of the branches may result in dead wood after the current growing season.

Remain vigilant and continue to remove the suckers throughout the Summer and Autumn.   It is unlikely that you need to repeat the pruning in Autumn, but if you run across any dead or diseased branches after harvesting the olives, go ahead and do a minor second pruning.

PREPARATION OF OLIVES

Because the growing season is so short in the UK, it doesn’t always give Olive Trees enough time to produce edible fruit BUT some trees are an exception to the rule and have managed to yield some fruits.   If this is the case with your tree, here are some recipes for preparing your olives.

Contrary to what most of us believe, Olives cannot be picked straight from the tree as they are very bitter.   Before marinating olives, it is necessary to pickle them to get rid of any impurities and the bitter taste. Pickled olives are ready to eat after around 5 weeks in salted water.   It is very important that at the beginning, you do not mix ripe (black) and unripe (green) olives.

PREPARING OLIVES FOR EATING OR MARINATING

Cut each olive lengthways using a sharp knife or lightly hit each one with a wooden rolling pin to pierce the skin and allow the impurities to leak out.  

Place the olives in a container until it is 2/3rds full.  

Cover the olives with water then fill a small plastic bag with water, tie securely and sit the bag on top of the olives to keep them submerged. Avoid using metal containers.

Change the water in the container every day and continue to do so for 1 week, to avoid bacteria developing within the water.

After one week, dissolve one cup of sea salt per 5 litres of warm water to prepare your brine solution.

Drain the cleaning water from the olives and pour in enough of the brine solution to cover the olives.   Add a layer of olive oil to the container to make an airtight seal over the olives.

Leave for approximately 6 weeks covered and in a cool, dark place.   After this they should be ready to eat (depending on taste) and will keep fresh for around 6 months.

Spicy Marinated Olives

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil, preferably extra-virgin

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

3 to 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

500g black olives

In a medium bowl, whisk oil and vinegar to blend. Toss with all ingredients.   Fill a jar two-third of the way up with olives and pour marinade over olives until covered.   Marinate in refrigerator for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy!