Caring for olive trees

Olive trees are the houseplant of the moment, so if you’re tired of the typical, run-of-the-mill greenery, then they’re the choice for you. With beautiful pale leaves and a rustic feel, olive trees are at home in farmhouse settings and modern dwellings alike. While an indoor plant probably won’t leave you with an abundant supply of fresh olives, it will add a ton of charm and a whole lot of style to your home. Despite their rustic appearance, olive trees do require a bit of regular maintenance and care to really thrive in an indoor environment. Here’s everything you need to know:

Choose the Right Kind of Tree

A full-size olive tree is probably not going to feel at home inside. Instead, look for smaller varieties of olive trees like dwarf types that won’t grow much taller than a few feet. And remember that olive trees can always be pruned to fit your space. They can be cut back and still look great. Pruning is also important for keeping your olive tree looking bushy as it grows taller and avoiding that spindly look.

Give It Enough Sun

Potted olive trees are most at home in direct sunlight. Because they’re typically found in sunny locales like Italy and Greece, they’re really not a low-light plant. If any part of your home gets southern exposure, this is the best place for your olive tree. It’s best for it to have up to six hours of light per day. In the Summer, take advantage of the warm, sunny days by letting it live on the patio or other outdoor space.

Don’t Over-Water It

Like many indoor trees, olive trees don’t need lots of regular watering. They’re used to typically dry climates, but they do like to be watered deeply. When you water, make sure you’re really soaking the soil. Leave enough time between waterings so that the top inch or so of soil has completely dried out. Olive trees aren’t fast growers, so be sure not to over-water, and cut back how much you water it in Autumn and Winter. Unlike other houseplants, it won’t need much humidity as it’s used to drier conditions.

Make Sure It Has Proper Soil and Adequate Drainage

While you may be adept at keeping your plants well-watered, something you may not have considered is whether your plants have adequate drainage. It’s essential for olive trees to be kept in a large container with drainage holes, and a sandy potting soil is better for this kind of plant. For even better drainage, consider putting pebbles in the bottom of the pot, or keep the pot elevated to allow for the excess water to seep out.

Keep It Fertilised

A lot of low-maintenance houseplants don’t require fertiliser — or at least, you can get away without fertilizing them. But olive trees should be fertilized about twice a year. You can use a simple houseplant fertiliser, which will give the plant some of the nutrients it needs but can’t get from water on its own. While this probably won’t produce fruit on your tree, it may help it produce flowers in the Spring.

Watch Out For Pests

Olive trees are prone to scale — small insects that suck sap from the plant’s stems. Keep an eye on your olive tree for these pests, which are yellow-brown and often appear in groups. If you do find some, don’t panic — they’re easy to get rid of with an indoor insecticidal soap. Just make sure whatever you’re using is meant for the indoors, as outdoor varieties can be toxic.

Image Source: Meredith Corporation

Mission Olive Tree

Hardy and Hearty Growth in California

Why Mission Olive Trees?

Prized for its versatility and use in pickling, as well as oil production, the Mission Olive Tree is an ideal pick for your own at-home orchard. Even better? The Mission boasts one of the smallest pits and greatest cold resistance of any cultivar in California. Plus, since it’s grown in California, it performs well in your California landscape.

Basically, the Mission is second to none when it comes to adaptability and a multitude of uses. Planted in the ground, Missions reach 20 to 30 feet in height, but when they’re container-planted, they last season after season and stay a smaller, more manageable size for indoor areas. Best of all, it’s strong and vigorous, so it doesn’t take much to ensure this tree thrives.

Why Fast-Growing-Trees.com is Better

For starters, buying this variety means the reward of constant productivity and table olives, oil and more home-grown, all without hassle. And since each Mission is nurtured and well-maintained before it arrives to your door, it’s ready to acclimate to your landscape. It’s Golden State grown for your Golden State home, tailored specifically for your climate and needs.

Your Mission is grown and shipped in its own container, roots intact, so it’s ready for healthful living right away. Order your own California-bred Mission Olive Tree today!

Planting & Care

1. Planting: To start, plant your Mission Olive Tree in full sun (an area with 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day) for best results. And we recommend using a pollinator for the Mission – the Arbequina is a good option, as well as the Frantoio.

Whether you plant in a container or in the ground, dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball. Place the Mission Olive inside and backfill soil, tamping down as you do, and then water to settle the roots.

2. Watering: Water your young Mission Olive Tree each day, especially when the weather warms up in the spring. If you’re not sure when to water, simply check the soil. When the soil is dry down to the first two inches (use your finger to check), it’s time to water.

3. Pruning: During the first few years, just minimal pruning is needed for your Mission. However, for indoor plants, pruning regulates fruit production and shapes the tree for easier harvest, as well as your desired size. When you do prune, do so between the fall harvest and when the tree blooms in May.

4. Fertilizing: Fertilizing with a nitrogen-based blend regularly is recommended for increased fruit production. Fertilize until your Mission starts bearing olives for best results.

5. Harvesting: If you’re wanting to harvest naturally black olives, pick in November. If you need green olives from your Mission, harvest in September. The olives are delicious both ways, though!

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PLANTING OLIVE TREES IN A POT

Olive trees can survive a number of years in a pot, although they will ultimately need to be planted in the ground to survive. As long as you have a sufficiently large pot, the tree can live up to eight or nine years in it. Keep the pot in full sun.

The pot should have ample drainage holes and be propped up on blocks to ensure the holes are not obstructed. A layer of gravel, Styrofoam, lava rock, crushed cans (or anything loose) should fill the bottom of the pot. Any commercial, well-draining potting soil will be fine for an olive tree.

Potted trees will need to be watered more often than trees planted in the ground. Allow the soil to dry somewhat before watering, then water until the soil is soaked. The normal, healthy potted olive tree will need fertilizer twice a year, once in the spring and once mid-summer. Use a small amount of any slow-release fertilizer, following the package’s instructions.

Pruning the potted tree more than once a year may be necessary to keep the tree within its space constraints. Pinching off the growing tips will promote bushiness while removing a branch from its base will open up space within the center of the tree. A root prune (taking the tree out of its pot, shaking off loose soil, pruning its roots, then replacing in the pot with new soil) can also help lengthen its viable potted life.

Olive trees do not thrive indoors. If you plan to keep your olive tree inside year-round or seasonally, put it outside as much as you are able and place it by a southern-facing window. Watch carefully for ants and scale, as indoor olives tend to be susceptible to scale. Spraying it occasionally with a misting squirt bottle can be helpful, especially in dry, heated, winter homes. Water thoroughly when soil does not feel moist to the touch.

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Olive Tree Care: Information On How To Grow Olive Trees

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Did you know you can grow olive trees in the landscape? Growing olive trees is relatively simple given the proper location and olive tree care is not too demanding either. Let’s find out more about how to grow olive trees.

Growing Olive Trees

Think of olive trees and one visualizes the warm sunny Mediterranean, but olive trees can be grown in North America as well. Most aptly suited to areas which are prone to high heat and plenty of sunshine, the olive tree should be planted outside and once established is fairly low maintenance.

Olive trees have lovely silver leaves, which will compliment many other plantings of the garden but are also grown for their fruit. The olive tree’s fruit can be pressed for oil or cured (brined) and eaten.

There are other plants which bear the name “olive,” so make sure to look for a European olive tree when you are growing olive trees. Some cultivars that flourish here are self-fertilizing ones such as Arbequina and Mission, grown for oil; and Manzanilla, which is the typical “California” black olive suitable for canning.

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How to Grow Olive Trees

Most olive trees take about three years to come into maturity and begin to set noticeable amounts of fruit. To increase fruit set, it is recommended that you plant more than one cultivar close together.

Olive trees like to be planted in well drained soil in a sunny area of the landscape. The olive tree is an evergreen that flourishes in hot dry areas, and as such, will not do well in wet winter soil.

Olive trees are usually purchased in either 4- inch pots with numerous side branches and a height of 18-24 inches or in a 1-gallon pot with a single trunk and a height of 4-5 feet. Unless you are growing an olive tree for a strictly ornamental purpose, it is most advisable to plant a specimen with a single trunk for ease of harvest.

Look for olive tree specimens that are actively growing with soft new growth sprouting from the shoot tips. In an olive tree orchard, the trees are spaced 20 feet apart to accommodate their eventual size; however, there is no strict rule of thumb on spacing. Spacing will vary according to the cultivar.

Dig a hole the size of the olive tree’s container. Leave the root ball alone except to remove or cut any circling roots. Do not add soil medium, compost or fertilizer to the newly planted olive tree. Also, avoid adding gravel or drainage tubing. It is best for the young olive tree to acclimate to its soil.

Olive Tree Care

Once your new olive tree is planted, it is a good idea to provide drip irrigation as the tree will need water every day, especially during the summer months throughout its first year.

Once you begin to see a quantity of new growth, feed the olive tree with nitrogen rich compost, conventional fertilizer or concentrated organic.

Minimally prune during the first four years, only enough to maintain shape. The young olive tree may need to be staked right up against the trunk to assist with stability.

Commercial olive tree growers harvest fruit in September or October for canning purposes and small fruit is left until January or February and then pressed for oil.

Olives

The olive tree boasts two prizes—the olive itself (called the table olive) and the precious oil pressed from the fruit’s flesh. In fact, a third prize is the tree which has a twisted trunk full of character, grey-green leaves, and wood which can be used for carving and furniture-making. Fallen fruit looks edible, but it isn’t. All olives, whether green or black, require processing before they can be eaten.

Background

The olive tree has been given the Latin name Olea europaea and is from the botanical family called Oleaceae. It is an evergreen that typically grows from 10-40 ft (3-12 m) tall. The branches are fine and many, and the leathery leaves are spear-shaped and dark green on their tops and silver on their undersides.

The trees bloom in the late spring and produce clusters of small, white flowers. Olives grow erratically (unless the trees are cultivated and irrigated) and tend to either produce in alternate years or bear heavy crops and light ones alternately. Seedlings do not produce the best trees. Instead, seedlings are grafted to existing tree trunks or trees are grown from cuttings. Olives are first seen on trees within eight years, but the trees must grow for 15-20 years before they produce worthwhile crops, which they will do until they are about 80 years old. Once established, the trees are enduring and will live for several hundred years.

Olives mature on the tree and can be harvested for green table olives when the fruit is immature or left on the tree to ripen. The ripe olives are also harvested for processing as food but are left on the trees still longer if they are to be used for oil. Six to eight months after the flowers bloomed, the fruit will reach its greatest weight; and 20-30% of that weight (excluding the pit) is oil. Inside each olive, the pit contains one or two seeds; botanists call this kind of fruit with a seed-bearing stone a drupe; plums and peaches are other drupes.

Olives grow in subtropical climates in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Hundreds of varieties are grown; some produce only table olives, and others are cultivated for olive oil. Italy and Spain lead world production of olives; and Greece, Morocco, Tunisia, Portugal, Syria, and Turkey also consider the olive an important part of their economies. Europe produces three-fourths of the world’s olives and also leads in consumption of both table olives and olive oil. California has also become a respected producer, especially since the health benefits of the olive have been widely recognized.

History

Cultivation of the olive is as old as the civilizations that encircle the Mediterranean Sea. The indications that people had learned the secrets to making olives edible date from the isle of Crete in about 3,500 b.c. The Egyptians recorded their knowledge of the olive around 1,000 b.c., and the Phoenicians exported it to Greece, Libya, and Carthage. The Greeks further carried the olive to Sicily, Southern Italy, and Spain. The Romans also mastered olive cultivation. Around 600 b.c., they had a merchant marine and stock market just for the oil trade. Sardinia and the south of France became olive-growing regions, thanks to the Romans.

Olive branches, leaves, and wood gained sacred connotations in both Testaments of the Bible, like the dove’s return to Noah’s Ark with an olive leaf in its beak. In the Olympic Games in Greece, the victors were awarded crowns of olive branches and leaves. Oil figured in the anointing of athletes, rulers, and religious authorities and was used as lamp oil by most ancient civilizations on the Mediterranean rim. It was olive oil that burned on empty for eight days in the Hebrews’ eternal flame during the miracle celebrated as Hanukkah. The olive’s fragrant wood was reserved exclusively for altars to the gods, and all of these uses helped make the olive a symbol of peace.

In the 1500s, Spanish missionaries brought the both the grape and the olive to California. In South America, Italian immigrants planted the olive, and they were also responsible for plantings in Australia and southern Africa. The olive achieved new fame in California when, in 1870, an inventive bartender added the fruit to a new concoction named the Martinez for the town he lived in; the olive-ornamented cocktail is known today as the martini.

Raw Materials

The olives themselves are the most important raw material. Depending on the curing method, pure water, caustic soda or lye, and coarse salt are used. Flavorings can be added to the brine. Among the favorites are red pepper or a variety of Mediterranean herbs for black olives and lemon or hot green peppers or chilies for green olives. Fennel, wine vinegar, or garlic can be used to add interest to any olive, but the time required for the olives to take on these flavors can range from a week for whole chilies to several months for a more subtle taste like the herb fennel.

Pitted green olives can be stuffed to add color, flavor, and texture. Almonds, pearl onions, sliced pimentos, mushrooms, anchovies, and pimento paste are the most common olive accessories.

Design

“Design” of olives includes variety, color with green or ripe olives as the two basic differences, and method of curing. Kalamata olives from Greece are one of the best-known varieties and are distinguished by their purplish brown color and elongated shape with a sharp point. The green Manzanilla is the most famous Spanish olive and is now also cultivated in California. The Nicoise olive from France is famous for the tuna salad that requires the olive as an ingredient. Naturally cured olives can vary in color from a wonderful range of greens to purple, black, brown, and even the small Souri olive from Israel that is brownish pink.

The key to the flavor, color, and texture of the olive is the moment of harvest. Obviously, the fruit can be harvested when it is green and unripe, fully ripened to black or any stage in between. Older fruit can be salt-cured or dry cured to produce a salty, wrinkled product. Damaged fruit can still be used by pressing it into oil. It is the combination of the harvest, the cure, and any added flavors that yield the characteristics sought by the producer and consumer.

Until recently, most olives available in American grocery stores were artificially cured, meaning that they were treated with lye to remove their bitterness. This is still true for all canned black olives, many of the green olives imported from Spain and the black Nicoise from France, and other bottled versions; however, renewed appreciation of the olive has led to interest in naturally cured olives that are now generally available at deli counters and are bottled by some specialized manufacturers. Naturally cured olives are cured with either oil or brine and additives like wine vinegar for flavor.

Lye treatment is done to remove the bitterness of the olive. Olives contain oleuropein (after their botanical name Olea europea), and it is this substance (a compound called a glucoside) that makes them too bitter to eat directly from the tree. According to the purists, lye-cured olives are bland, either spongy or hard (but not crunchy), with most of the flavor gone. Lye-cured olives are also almost always pitted, and the most naturally flavorful part of the olive is adjacent to the pit. Curing with lye softens the olive so it can be picked when it is still hard, but olives to be naturally cured must be more ripe, handled carefully, and processed quickly.

The Manufacturing
Process

In the field

  • 1 When olives are harvested by hand, sheets of netting or plastic are placed on the ground under the trees, and the harvesters climb ladders and comb the fruit from the branches. Long-handled rakes made of wood or plastic are used to pull the olives from the tree. There are other methods of harvesting including striking the branches with long canes or using shaped animal horns as combs to scrape the fruit from the branches. Pickers who use their fingers only employ a milking motion to strip the fruit from the trees. Hand picking is preferred by most growers, but it is also expensive.

    Machine harvesting is a recent addition to the olive grower’s arsenal. The machines were borrowed from the nut harvesters and are able to grasp the trunks of the trees and shake them. Each machine has a crew of six to nine men to operate the machine, shepherd the falling olives into the nets, and strike the branches to knock down the stub-born few by hand. The vibrations of the machine shake down about 80% of the tree’s burden, and knocking at the branches with staves yields another 10% percent. About 1,100-1,800 lb (500-815 kg) of olives per day can be harvested in this manner. The trees are sensitive to such assaults by machines, however, and many purists prefer hand harvesting.

  • 2 After harvesting of a tree’s crop is completed, the nets filled with olives are emptied into baskets or crates, which are then transported to the processing plant.

In the processing plant

  • 3 At the processing plant, the harvest bags are emptied into 1,000 lb (450 kg) bins. From the bins, the olives are deposited onto conveyors and moved past a blower that blasts leaves and tree and dirt particles off the fruit. They are washed in pure water and placed in 55 gal (2001) barrels.
  • 4 For brine curing of green olives, 12-14% salt and water are added to the barrels filled with olives. One cup of live active brine is added to each barrel; the live active solution is previously used brine that contains airborne yeasts and sugars from the olives that fermented in the brine. The active ingredient transfers enough yeast to begin the curing process in the new batch of brine. If salt and water alone were added to the olives, fermentation (curing) would not begin on its own, so the live active brine is a starter. A salometer—a salinity meter or specific gravity meter—is used to measure the percent of salt in solution in the barrels. For green olives, the salinity is increased by 2% every two to three weeks from the initial salinity of 12-14%. Black olives begin their curing at 8-9% salinity; this is increased by 1-2% every 2 weeks until a maximum solution of 22-24% is reached.
  • 5 After curing is completed, the barrels of olives are emptied onto a shaker table and rinsed with clean water. The shaker table sorts the olives by size while inspectors watch and remove damaged fruit. The olives are moved to another station where they are pitted then stuffed. At filling stations, they are put in jars that are filled with an 8-11% saline solution. If the saline is flavored, herbs or other flavorings are also added to the brine. The jars are then capped and sealed for safety.

Other curing and canning methods

  • 6 Processing plants may use other methods of curing. Lye curing is accomplished with a solution containing lye, an alkaline byproduct of wood ash. The olives soak in lye solutions for 24 hours (as opposed to the six to eight weeks required for salt brine curing). The lye draws out the oleuropein to remove the olive’s natural bitterness and make it edible; unfortunately, lye curing also changes the color and texture of the olive and removes many of its nutrients.
  • 7 Dry (or Greek-style) curing is a method in which plump black olives are layered in barrels with dry rock salt (no liquid is added). The salt breaks down the bitterness and leaches it out. The olives are stirred daily, and purplish liquid leached from them is drained from the bottoms of the barrels. After four to six weeks, the olives are rinsed to remove the salt and glycoside and lightly coated in oil; they are wrinkled and purple in color, and these qualities are unpleasant to some despite the excellent flavor and nutritional value of dry-cured olives.
  • 8 Black olives can also be cured by air curing. The olives are stored in burlap bags that allow air to pass through and around the olives. Over a period of weeks, the olives will cure, although they tend to be stronger in flavor than olives cured by other methods.
  • 9 Green or black olives can be cured in water alone. They should be rinsed once or twice daily and consumed in about two weeks when the curing is complete. Water-and air-cured olives are not stable and should be kept in jars in the refrigerator; brine-, lye-, and salt-cured (dry-cured) olives will keep in crocks almost indefinitely.
  • 10 In 1910, discovery of a method of canning black olives made commercial processing possible. Until that time, processing had been unsuccessful because the olives tended to discolor. The canning method consists of air ripening or lye-curing green olives in an oxygenated solution until they turn black, and treating them with ferrous gluconate. The iron additive fixes the black color, but the whole process removes most of the nutritional value of the olive. The olives are then packed in mild brine and processed in canners using pressure and heat.

Quality Control

The quality of olive processing is protected by many sets of hands and eyes. Steps from hand-picking in the grove to hand-culling of olives on the shaker table are monitored by touch. All other processes are watched carefully. Chemistry is regulated by relatively simple instruments, and taste tests help assure the crunch of cured olives and the blending of flavors.

Byproducts/Waste

Olive producers usually manufacture olive oil as well. Another byproduct that is growing in popularity is processed olive leaves. They are made into tea, put in caplets as crushed leaves, and processed as an extract or in tablets; all forms are believed to aid blood flow and inhibit viruses and diabetes.

Waste from olive processing consists of the pits and damaged fruit. The pits are sold as food for pigs, and all other olive waste can be ground and used as organic fertilizer. Some manufacturers return it to their groves to fertilize the olive trees.

The Future

A ripe future is predicted for the olive business thanks to three occurrences. Medical studies have shown that olives and olive oil are healthful foods that provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. They may reduce the risk of heart attacks and breast cancer, among other diseases. In America, the influence of immigrants from Spain, Italy, and the North Coast of Africa who are accustomed to naturally cured fruit has led to an interest in flavorful olives; specialty growers are reaching this market with carefully crafted, flavored olives. Finally, the “discovery” of crunchy, tasty, nutritious, naturally cured olives by a growing public is leading to the decline of canned ripe olives, which may disappear from the marketplace by about 2010.

Where to Learn More

Books

Klein, Maggie Blyth. The Feast of the Olive. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1994.

Rosenblum, Mort. Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit. New York: North Point Press, 1996.

Periodicals

Clark, Melissa. “An Ode to the Olive.” Vegetarian Times (October 1997): 136.

Hamblin, Dora Jane. “To Italy, Olive Oil is Green Gold.” Smithsonian (March 1985): 98.

Johnson, Elaine. “Know Your Olive Options.” Sunset (April 1995): 164.

Kummer, Corby. “Real Olives: In Praise of an Old World Treat, Pits and All.” The Atlantic (June 1993): 115.

Wing, Lucy. “A Taste of Olives.” Country Living (September 1994): 142.

Other

Australian Olive Association http://www.australianolives.com.au/.

Australian Olive Association and Information Center. http://pom44.ucdavis.edu/olive2.html/.

Naomi’s Olive Page, “An Ode to the Olive” http://www.bayarea.net/-emerald/olive.html/.

The Olive Oil Source. http://www.oliveoilsource.com/.

Santa Barbara Olive Company. Http://www.sbolive.com/.

—GillianS.Holmes

History of the Olive

The Olive in California
Mythology

Where in the world did the olive originate?The olive was native to Asia Minor and spread from Iran, Syria and Palestine to the rest of the Mediterranean basin 6,000 years ago. It is among the oldest known cultivated trees in the world – being grown before the written language was invented. It was being grown on Crete by 3,000 BC and may have been the source of the wealth of the Minoan kingdom. The Phoenicians spread the olive to the Mediterranean shores of Africa and Southern Europe. Olives have been found in Egyptian tombs from 2,000 years BC. The olive culture was spread to the early Greeks then Romans. As the Romans extended their domain they brought the olive with them.

1,400 years ago the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, advised his followers to apply olive oil to their bodies, and himself used oil on his head. The use of oil is found in many religions and cultures. It has been used during special ceremonies as well as a general health measure. During baptism in the Christian church, holy oil, which is often olive oil, may be used for anointment. At the Christmas mass, olive oil blessed by the bishop, “chrism”, is used in the ceremony. Like the grape, the Christian missionaries brought the olive tree with them to California for food but also for ceremonial use. Olive oil was used to anoint the early kings of the Greeks and Jews. The Greeks anointed winning athletes. Olive oil has also been used to anoint the dead in many cultures.

The olive trees on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem are reputed to be over 2000 years old, still relative newcomers considering the long domestication of the olive. We don’t know the exact variety of the trees on the Mount. Man has manipulated the olive tree for so many thousands of years that it is unclear what varieties came from which other varieties. Varieties in one country have been found to be identical to differently named varieties in another. Some research is now being done using gene mapping techniques to figure out the olive family tree. Shrub-like “feral” olives still exist in the Middle East and represent the original stock from which all other olives are descended.

In the past several hundred years the olive has spread to North and South America, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.

THE OLIVE IN CALIFORNIA
As the Franciscans marched north, establishing missions in California, they also planted olive groves. Southern California saw the first olive trees. According to an account in Judith Taylor’s book, The Olive in California, a visitor to Mission San Fernando in 1842 saw the mission buildings in ruins but the orchard with a good crop of olives. The visitor remarked that the mission probably had the biggest olive trees in the state. Subsequently in the past 150 years, trees have been planted in several waves along with interest in olives and olive oil. Many of these older groves (80-150 years old) still exist in California. Most are in Northern California. In Southern California population and housing pressure have put the farmers out of business. There are many isolated trees or fragments of old groves but the land is too expensive for olive growing. Income per acre is 10 times lower than other crops like wine grapes and even those can’t compete with development potential.

The Mission Olive Preservation, Restoration, and Education Project (MOPREP) aims to preserve the cultural link to the California Mission Olive tree for the purpose of general public education and enjoyment.

MYTHOLOGY
Athens is named for the Goddess Athena who brought the olive to the Greeks as a gift. Zeus had promised to give Attica to the god or goddess who made the most useful invention. Athena’s gift of the olive, useful for light, heat, food, medicine and perfume was picked as a more peaceful invention than Poseidon’s horse – touted as a rapid and powerful instrument of war. Athena planted the original olive tree on a rocky hill that we know today as the Acropolis. The olive tree that grows there today is said to have come from the roots of the original tree.

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Olive Tree Pre-Check

First things first, before even considering growing your own olive tree you need to make sure you live in an area with the right climate. You’re after a dry area with lots of sunshine, low wind or humidity due to the olive tree’s short roots. You can never have winter temperatures falling below -5ºC. Buds and fruiting shoots are usually damaged below these temperatures. Olives love areas with cool winters and hot, dry summers, which is most of southern Australia.

Tick? Then let us continue.

Next you’re going to need some patience, as it can take four to six years for olive trees to bear fruit, but on the up side it’s well worth it as they live on average between 300-600 years! This not only benefits you, but the generations to follow.

A one-year-old plant can start from around $20 while a more mature plant could set you back $250.

If you want just one tree it’s imperative to research which varieties are self-fertile. If you’re planting more than one, you don’t need a self-fertile tree as they will pollinate each other.

If you are after seeds to start your journey, for a great deal.

Why are these trees so special?

In Ancient Greece you would be fined for digging up too many olive trees, even on your own property. There is a reason why an olive branch appears on the national flags of seven nations, four US states and the flag of the United Nations. (For more facts check this out)

Here’s why: The leaves, bark and fruit of olive trees contain compounds which fight parasites and disease. These are being researched for their possible effectiveness against cancer. This is why Olive Leaf Extract is so popular in the supplement world. The olive tree’s strength is shown by the claim that some examples have lived for thousands of years.

Before you plant the tree or seeds, you’ll first need to do a soil test, and be ready to alter your soil if necessary. Make sure you have plenty of room for the tree to grow as they can grow up to 20-25 feet tall and wide.

That’s all for the Pre-check! Watch this space for the sequel of this blog: ‘How to Grow an Olive Tree’.

If you are after a great olive leaf product from Natures Naturals, to check it out!

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