Gardens

How to Plant an Olive Tree

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With an understanding of soil type, nutrients and irrigation, you can successfully plant and nurture an olive tree in your yard. A minimum average annual rainfall is not necessary to insure growing success thanks to modern drip systems. Although olive trees are not terribly affected by frost, they can be damaged, but only if the temperature drops well below zero. A best bet is to do some research to see if the conditions in your area are favorable to olive trees.

Planting

  • Check the soil where you will plant the olive tree to insure that the pH is neutral and slightly alkaline. It should range between 7.0 and 8.0 in pH.  You can buy a soil testing kit, or contact companies that deal with fertilizer products to test it for you. You might need to add lime to the soil to bring it within the required pH range.
  • Add manure to the soil to insure the addition of nutrients and micro-organisms which will insure successful growth and maturation of your tree. Be sure to use manure sparingly as a little bit goes a long way.
  • The olive tree you choose shouldn't be a twig, but it shouldn't be older than 2 or 3 years. A younger tree will cost less and grow much faster than an older one.
  • If you are planting more than one tree, plant them no more than approximately 20 feet apart.  They will grow wider and taller than you think.  Be sure to stake each tree as protection against strong winds. Use elastic material to secure the tree to the stake to allow for flexibility and strong winds.
  • After choosing your planting site, fill the hole with water and insure that it fully drains off after a short period of time. You want to be sure there is adequate drain off and that the tree does not stand in water.
  • Plant the tree in a hole which will allow it to sit at the same level in the ground as it sat in the pot.
  • Your tree will give better yields and be afforded protection from freezing if planted with a southern exposure.

 

Irrigation

  • It is not necessary to dig a wide trench aroung your tree for irrigation purposes.  Utilizing a drip irrigation system will provide adequate watering for your tree. Plant the tree on a slightly built mound to insure the crown of the tree in not in a puddle of water or situate it on a modest incline or terraced area.
  • Some sources suggest mulching the area around your tree with course straw to conserve water. It is also encouraged to control and hinder the growth of weeds close to your tree. 
  • If you intend to process the tree's olives, you will want them to be dry. Your olive tree will begin to bear fruit after approximately the first 18 months.

Care and feeding

  • Condition your soil with a high-nitrogen fertilizer (17-6-10) for a lush and graceful appearance of your olive tree.
  • Follow directions for fertilization and adhere strictly to the schedule
  • Consult a pruning guide to optimize your tree's growth and shape.

 

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  Photo copyright Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org)