Determine the type of olive tree you want to plant. In this worlds, there are hundreds types of olive trees. Some of them are very similar with slight differences in color and taste. The other types are very different and have certain growing conditions that will affect the time of fruit ripening.
- In California, USA there are 4 main types of olives: Mission, Sevillano, Manzanillo, and Ascolano. Even if grown in the same state, yields may vary, depending on the climate and the strand (coastal location) used for planting.
- Finding out where you live is important to determine the most suitable olive type.
- By growing it from seed, you can get fruit that may surprise and not match the parent tree.
You have to pick the fruit straight from the tree to keep the seeds alive. In the US, olives thrive in climate zones 8-11. This zone has a subtropical climate with mild winters. In a country with 4 seasons, pick olives in early fall, when the fruit is ripe and green. Avoid black fruit. Do not pick up fruit that has fallen on the ground or fruit that has holes due to insect attack.
Store-bought olives will not grow because the fruit has been processed for consumption. This means, the olives have been cooked. The ripening process will kill the seeds in the seeds and make them unable to live anymore. However, you can use raw, unprocessed olives.
If there are no olive trees to pick from, you can buy olives from the planters.
Put the olives in the bucket. Once the olives are collected, crush the flesh with a hammer to remove the fruit surrounding the seeds. Put warm water in a container of crushed olives, and let the olives soak there for one night. Keep stirring the water every few hours, so the fruit will be looser.
If you don’t have a hammer, you can crush the olives with the wide side of the knife. If there is any seeds that float on the surface of the water, you have remove them. Seeds like this are probably rotten.
Discard the water. Collect the seeds and remove any remaining skin with a scrubbing pad. These pads are usually used for scrubbing pots or pans. After scrubbing the skin, rinse the olive seeds with warm water for a few minutes. Use sandpaper if there is no scouring pad.
Cut off the ends of the seeds. Each olive seed has a sharp and blunt end. Use a knife to cut off the blunt ends. Don’t cut the seed in the middle as this will prevent it from sprouting, but make a cut that will make a hole the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen. Soak olive seeds for 24 hours in water at room temperature.
Sowing the Olive Seeds
Put the soil into a small pot. Use an 8 cm pot for each seed. Fill the pot with soil that has good drainage. The soil should contain one part coarse sand and one part compost. You can get this planting medium at the seed seller. Add a little water so that the planting medium is moist, but not muddy.
- If you wish, you can use a large pot. These seedlings should be removed when the seeds have germinated and are ready to be planted.
- Stir the two planting media ingredients until well blended using a spoon, wooden stick, or hand.
- Plant the seeds 2 or 5 cm deep into the soil. Ideally you should place one seed per pot. This is to prevent the seeds from fighting for nutrients.
Cover the pot with plastic. This is useful for maintaining humidity and mimics the function of a greenhouse. Place the pot in bright location. A good place is a windowsill, but keep in mind that direct sunlight can harm plants in the early stages of seedlings. If you covered it with a plastic bag, place the pot in an area out of direct sunlight.
If you don’t want to use a plastic bag, you can place the pot inside a propagator (a seedling device that has a cover). In a month, usually seeds will sprout.
Soak olive seeds. You should always keep the humidity in the top 5 cm of the growing medium. Check the soil condition by sticking your finger into the ground. Only water the olive seeds if the top 0.5 cm of the soil looks dry. Excessive watering can trigger the growth of fungi and bacteria that can damage plants.
Open the plastic bag cover when the seeds have sprouted. You can leave it on the windowsill or move it to a warm place until it’s time to plant the olive seeds later. Continue to water as usual.
Planting Olive Seeds in the Field
You need to wait until spring comes when the lowest temperature in your area can reach minus 1 degree Celsius. Avoid growing olives when frost because it can damage the crop.
Make a planting hole. Choose a place that gets a lot of direct sunlight to speed up growth. You only need to make a hole with a depth of about a few centimeters. Ideally, you should dig the hole a little deeper than the container used to raise the plant. Use a small garden shovel or hand to make holes.
The advantage of olive trees is that they grow well in most types of soil, including rocky and sandy soils. The only condition that must be met is that the soil must have good drainage. Otherwise, the plant will slowly die because the soil is too wet. Poorly drained soil can cause root diseases, such as verticillium wilt or phytopthora root rot. The area around the olive tree should not contain much mud, and only slightly damp.
Plant olive seeds.
Be Careful while you removing the olive from its pot, so it will not damage the roots. Water it first and the hole before you plant olive seeds. Insert the seedling into the hole, slightly higher than the soil surface and cover it with 3 cm thick soil taken from around the area.
Do not use large amounts of mixed organic growing media, compost or fertilizer. This can create an artificial growth environment. You can start fertilizing it one year after planting.
If you are planting a lot of seeds, keep the distance between the plants at least 1 meter, and a maximum of 9 meters for large olive varieties. Otherwise, the trees will fight for nutrients from the surrounding soil.
Water the plant as usual. The rules of watering also apply to outdoor plants. Check the soil around the olive tree to see if it is damp, and water the plant if the top 0.5 cm of soil looks dry. Don’t over-water it. Nature will do its job and the olives will thrive.
Olive trees are hardy plants and generally do not require watering or special care when the weather is cold. However, if the weather is very dry, water the plant as usual to keep the topsoil moist.
Wait for the olive tree to bear fruit within 3 years. Remember, olives come in hundreds of varieties so it can be difficult to predict when your tree will bear fruit. Some varieties (eg Arbequina and Koroneiki) can bear fruit within 3 years. Others can take 5 to 12 years.
Pruning the Olive Trees
Olives grow very slowly, so you don’t need to prun them too often. However, you can trim dead, diseased, or molting branches and twigs, and remove any branches growing at the bottom of the plant’s stem. You can also trim the branches of the tree so that sunlight can shine through the center of the plant.