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  • Olive Trees

    We've decided to work some olive trees into our landscaping. These are pretty nice 15 gallon Manzanilla trees that were ready to be move up into 24"boxes -- so we got a good deal.

    I really like olive trees; they look great year-round, and we have fun curing the olives. They also remind us of Italy, Spain and Provence. The kids really get into it. Of course we won't have enough for our own olive oil, but that's OK.

    Does anyone have olive trees? What do you do with the olives?

    Pizza Ovens
    Outdoor Fireplaces

  • #2
    Re: Olive Trees

    I would love to have olive trees, but have never seen them for sale around the Dallas, TX area. I am not sure they would do well here, but I need to look them up and see. They look great James!



    • #3
      Re: Olive Trees

      I planted 4 Mission and about a dozen Manzanilla trees three years ago.

      They are still young, so the output is still fairly small. Last year we cured about 3 gallons of olives. This year the weather was really bad during the time of fruit set, so the crop throughout the Northern CA olive growing region is really bad. Most of my trees don't have more than a handful, a couple have maybe 50% of last year's level.

      I used the brine method and they turn out quite nice -- sort of like kalamata olives in flavor and texture. I pick the olives when most have begun to turn red/black (usually early November). Be sure to change the brine often. I start out changing it weekly, and then as the olives begin to approach being "done" (taste one each brine change) I change it maybe ever other week and begin adding a bit of wine vinegar to the brine.

      If you pit them they will cure more quickly, unpitted they take *much* longer.


      • #4
        Re: Olive Trees

        I love olive trees, I wish they grew in Colorado. Just start with a good tree and water it for four or five hundred years. Here is a photo of one we saw in France. How old do you think that is?

        My Oven Thread:


        • #5
          Re: Olive Trees

          Cool tree! It's gotta be a few of our genrations old. I love the root and trunk structure!. It must be an important tree to have a model posing for everyone taking pictures!!!

          My oven progress -


          • #6
            Re: Olive Trees

            I have asked around at a few garden centers in the Tampa area, no one sells them and they all say they don't do well in FL (extreme humidity???). Several have told stories of people who have tried, none have known of anyone having any success.....its a shame, even if it didn't bare good olives it would be a beautiful tree to have.



            • #7
              Re: Olive Trees

              Growing Olives in Texas Gardens
              George Ray McEachern and Larry A. Stein
              Extension Horticulturists
              Texas A & M University
              College Station, Texas 77843-2134
              January 27, 1997

              The history of the olive tree can be traced back to Biblical times; when it
              was grown in the Mediterranean area which continues today. Everyone is
              familiar with the story of the dove sent out by Noah which returned with an
              olive branch. The olive was also important to the Greeks and the Romans, who
              made it a part of their mythologies to celebrate the use of its oil as an
              essential food and fuel for lamps.
              The olive was spread from its place of origin on what is today Turkey and
              Syria to other parts of the Mediterranean basin in a very early period. The
              olive found conditions for its greatest cultivation in Italy and Spain. It
              was the Spanish who spread the olive to America. Catholic missionaries
              spread the olive to Mexico and later to California, as well as to South

              Olives play a significant role in horticulture today in California, but that
              state produces less than one percent of the world?s olives. California
              furnishes only 40 percent of the canned olives consumed in the United States
              and less than two percent of the oil; the rest comes from the Mediterranean
              area. If the Spanish introduced the olive to Texas in the 17th and 18th
              centuries, no record or remnant of that introduction exists today.

              The late Earnest Mortensen of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station
              brought olive trees to the Winter Garden area in the 1930?s. Studies there
              showed that the olive trees would produce in Texas conditions. Isolated
              plantings of olive trees, mostly used as ornamentals, can be found in parts
              of central and South Texas today. An olive tree found in La Villita in San
              Antonio produced regular crops of fruit until it was severely damaged in the
              freeze of December, 1983. This tree was most likely planted in the 1930?s
              when the Works Progress Administration performed the restoration and
              landscaping in downtown San Antonio.

              Climate is the most important limiting factor in the distribution of the
              olive in Texas and elsewhere. Temperature controls growth, reproduction, and
              survival of the olive. Growth begins after mean temperatures warm to 70
              degrees F in the spring and continues until temperatures drop below this
              point in the fall. Unlike the fruit trees that we are familiar with, such as
              the peach, the olive does not set fruiting buds in the fall. Instead, the
              olive will only set flower buds after being exposed to cool night and warm
              day temperatures during the winter. This unique warm day/cool night
              vernalization is essential for fruit bud development.

              The olive must experience vernalization to produce fruit; however, it will
              freeze from extreme cold. Although the olive is the most cold-hardy of the
              subtropical fruit trees, it will sustain damage to leaves and small stems at
              17 degrees F and more severe damage at 12 degrees F. The tree can be killed
              to the ground with temperatures below 10 degrees F. Mature trees can regrow
              from underground parts following a severe freeze.

              There are very few sites that meet the climactic requirements of the olive
              in Texas. Studies by the late Jim Denny at Texas A&M University indicated
              that the olive could be grown as a fruit tree in large parts of East,
              Central, and South Texas; however, the trees would freeze to the ground
              three of ten years. Extreme South Texas does not experience enough cool
              vernalization weather to set fruit on the olive. Reports from the Rio Grande
              Valley indicate no fruit production on olive trees there, and reports from
              Corpus Christi indicate that fruiting is very sporadic. The olive may be
              grown as an ornamental in these areas.

              In North and West Texas and the Hill Country, the frequency of freezing
              temperature is too great to allow for cultivation of olive. Because very
              cold, dry air may sometimes invade the entire state during severe winters,
              damage to the olive is a threat almost anywhere olive trees are planted in
              the state, with danger increasing the further north you go. Efforts must be
              taken to protect olive trees, especially young ones, from damage when severe
              cold takes hold.

              Under the proper conditions, at about five years of age, the olive will
              begin to bear the familiar olive fruit. Fruit is borne on panicles, or
              fruiting branches, arising from buds above the point where the leaves join
              the stem on the previous season?s growth. The cream-colored flowers are very
              similar to those of the waxleaf ligustrum (privet), a member of the same
              botanical family (the Oleaceae) which is widely grown in Texas as an

              Two types of flowers arise on the tree: perfect and staminate. Staminate
              flowers contain only male parts; the pistil is aborted. Only perfect flowers
              can become fruits. Bees and other insects play a minor role in olive
              pollination; wind moves most of the pollen from tree to tree. Most olive
              varieties are self-fertile, but increased production often results from
              cross pollination.

              The olive is the only member of the Oleaceae to bear edible fruit. The
              fruit, a drupe like a peach, cannot be eaten fresh because of the presence
              of a bitter glucoside. Thus the olive must be processed in order to be
              served as food; either processed for its oil or processed with lye and salt
              to produce the canned or preserved table fruit. While fruit processed in
              California has almost all of the bitterness removed, that processed in the
              Mediterranean area is often left somewhat bitter.

              The olive should not be confused with the Russian-olive (Elaeagnus
              angustifolia) or the Anacahuita (Cordia boissieri),which is sometimes called
              the Texas or Mexican Olive. Both of these plants belong to different
              botanical families. The olive, however, is related to the Desert Olive
              (Forestiera sp.) and the American Wild-Olive (Osmanthus sp.). The fruits of
              these two "olives" are not edible.

              Olives can be propagated very easily. There are a number of ways to
              propagate the plant. Plants may be grown from seed, but a cultivar will not
              come true from seed. Seedling olives are sometimes used as rootstocks to
              which are grafted known cultivars; seeds are also used for the selection of
              new cultivars. Seeds are cracked or treated with sulfuric acid to aid in
              germination because the pits are very hard.
              Most olives are, however, grown on their own roots. Asexual propagation is
              from leafy cuttings, from larger stem cuttings called truncheons, from
              knotty growths at the crown of the tree called ovules, or from suckers.

              Most modern propagation is from leafy cuttings rooted under mist. Take
              eight-inch long, pencil-sized cuttings from the tree in August or September
              for best results. Remove the lower leaves and treat the base of the stem
              with Indole-butyric acid (IBA) at 4000 ppm in diluted alcohol for five
              seconds. (level 1/4 teaspoon IBA, 509 ml 95% ethyl alcohol, 50 ml water) or
              with a commercial rooting compound.

              The top two inches of the cutting may be removed or left on. Place the
              cutting stem-down in a mixture of equal parts peat, perlite or vermiculite,
              and sand. The media should be pasteurized and treated with a fungicide. Hold
              the cuttings under intermittent mist.

              After six to eight weeks, roots should begin to form. Cuttings may be potted
              after 10 to 12 weeks. After potting, fertilize the rooted cuttings with a
              dilute fertilizer, but avoid burning the roots with excessive nitrogen. The
              cuttings may be transferred to the nursery the following spring.

              The olive is very efficient at extracting nutrients from the soil, and
              nitrogen is usually the only element which must be applied. Mature trees
              need from 1/2 to 2 pounds of actual nitrogen per year, depending on tree
              size. Deficiencies of potassium and boron are rare but possible. Fertilize
              in December to aid in fruit bud development and in the spring when new
              growth begins. Additional fertilizer may be added in the summer months if
              growth is poor.
              The tree should be trained to three or four main scaffold branches beginning
              at about three feet in height. A full canopy should be allowed to develop
              from the scaffold branches. Fruiting will take place in this shell of
              Pruning should be delayed until early spring. Because the tree does not go
              dormant, any increase in temperature after pruning will stimulate growth
              which might be damaged by freezing temperatures. The olive is pruned by
              thinning out dead or otherwise unproductive wood. It should not be topped.
              An exception to this rule is the use of the olive as a hedge. It will form a
              dense, attractive hedge if topped and trimmed.
              Topping causes the formation of numerous lateral branches and suckers so
              that a bush is produced. Again, all cutting should be delaying until spring
              or summer.

              Cultural Practices
              To avoid being killed by severe cold, olive trees should be mounded with
              soil up to about 1-1/2 feet on the trunk until they are about five years
              old. Mound up the soil in late November and remove it in late March. If
              possible, cover the foliage when temperatures of 17 degrees F. or below
              threaten. If the tree is damaged by cold weather, wait until new growth
              appears in the late spring before removing dead or damaged parts.
              As yet, there is no firm information about what cultivars will do best under
              Texas conditions. Because it is cold-hardy, Ascolano may be a good choice as
              an ornamental under Texas conditions. Barouni may be a good choice as a
              fruit tree because it comes from a country which is warmer than the place of
              origin of the other cultivars. The last variety for trial plantings is


              • #8
                Re: Olive Trees

                Wow. Thanks for that. I had already found that it occasionally gets too cold here for them to survive without protections, but if I over buy insulation for my dome so that I have left overs, and just get one tree, who knows!



                • #9
                  Re: Olive Trees

                  Checked the crop today and it is just about time to pick.

                  If folks are interested I'll photo document the curing process.


                  • #10
                    Re: Olive Trees

                    Personally, I would love to see the curing process!

                    Even if I can't grow the trees here due to the occasionally deep freezes we get, I might still like to get some olives and cure them!



                    • #11
                      Re: Olive Trees

                      Originally posted by staestc View Post
                      Personally, I would love to see the curing process!

                      Even if I can't grow the trees here due to the occasionally deep freezes we get, I might still like to get some olives and cure them!

                      It's not too late to order fresh olives from this year's crop (black olives at any rate):

                      Penna Olives, from stuffed olives to olive spreads, we've got it all

                      As they mention on the above page, the olive crop this year is miserable. Most of my trees didn't have more than a handful (literally!). A couple had enough to make it worth picking. So this year I'll only be able to cure a few quarts rather than a few gallons.


                      • #12
                        Re: Olive Trees

                        I really enjoy olive trees. Check out where I have been hanging out lately.. Queen Creek Olive Mill


                        • #13
                          Re: Olive Trees

                          Olive trees around the Adelaide hills that are sewn through birds dropping the stones are deemed to be noxious weeds and are a very real bushfire threat.
                          Land owners are offered govt financial assistance to rid them but there are also huge acreages put in for the oil production.
                          I am always pulling up feral young olive seedlings around the garden as neither I nor the other half like them,. She won't even have them on her pizzas.
                          We have a new residential development a couple of hundred metres away from us and you should see the olive tree stumps that the excavators have removed. Some single stumps would fill a tandem tipper.
                          I also have considerable olive wood that I collected for wood turning but now will burn it in the Pompeii.

                          Prevention is better than cure, - do it right the first time!

                          The more I learn, the more I realise how little I know

                          Neillís Pompeiii #1
                          Neillís kitchen underway


                          • #14
                            Re: Olive Trees

                            I was contacted a few years ago by a company from Liguria that has a mountain (a true lifetime supply) of olive wood cuttings. They prune the trees every years, and they are trying to figure out a way of making a profit from the wood. They were wondering if there was a market in the U.S. for "gourmet" wood -- but I didn't see an opportunity. There are lots of wood and charcoal BBQs in Italy, and they couldn't believe it when I told them that most grills in the U.S. were propane.

                            I can't imagine shipping enough wood anywhere to fire a wood oven.

                            Oh well.
                            Pizza Ovens
                            Outdoor Fireplaces


                            • #15
                              Olive Curing

                              I promised some photos of the curing process.

                              I use the brine method. The result of the curing process is shown in the first photo (last year's crop)

                              I pick the olives in mid-November when the tree contains a mix of fully black olives (with purple flesh almost to the pit) through olives that just have a blush of red.

                              I find it easiest to cure the olives in the same quart canning jars that will be their final home. First cut a slash through each olive from north pole to south pole, taking care not to cut into the pit. Fill each jar with the slashed olives (second photo).

                              Next prepare a brine with one part kosher or sea salt to 9 parts water (by volume). Fill each jar to the neck (third photo).

                              Now put on the lids and bands and set the jars in a cool dark place. For the next week give them a good shaking daily.

                              I'll be back next week with photos of the next steps.