Position – Plant your olive tree in a place that gets full sun (at least 6 hours per day). Olive trees can tolerate the wind.
Size – If left uncontrolled, olive trees can grow up to 10 meters in height.
Soil Type – This tree is not particularly fussy on soil mix, but a pH of between 5 and 7 is ideal. Most gardens have a pH of 7. Good drainage and aeration is absolutely essential for maximum growth and harvest. Olive trees will not tolerate waterlogged soil. Slightly stony ground is acceptable.
They also require a bit of cool time. An average winter temperature that is below 21° Celsius for about 2 months is ideal. Do not add compost or fertiliser when planting.
Mulch – As with all fruit trees, good mulch of well-matured compost and a bit of manure helps to keep the roots cool, limits evaporation on the surface, assists with weed control and feeds the tree.
Watering – New plants require regular watering. Once mature and established, they are drought-tolerant and will only need to be watered once a month if it does not rain. If olive trees are planted in big pots, they will require more watering.
Fertilising – A potted olive tree will need to be fertilised in spring and again in mid-summer. Never over-fertilise it as this will encourage leaf growth but little fruit.
Pruning – It is always good to cut away diseased or dry branches in winter to allow for maximum light and sun penetration in summer.
Pests – Airborne fungi from overwatering or too much rain are nemeses for olive trees. These can be controlled with regular pruning and preventative, organic copper sprays.
Harvesting – Fruits are harvested between August and November. All olives start out green, then gradually ripen to a pinkish colour and then to dark purple. The time that you harvest them depends on what the olives are going to be used for.
Olives must either be put in brine or pressed to make oil within 3 days of harvesting, otherwise they turn sour. The oil content of olives reduces as the fruits ripen. To make Greek-style olives, pick mature purple fruits. Once in brine, they turn black.