Cultivating an olive tree
Mediterranean olive trees are long lived and can survive extreme temperatures, extended dry weather, hot sun, frost and infertile soil but need good drainage to thrive.
The fruit changes from green to black as it ripens and can be picked at any stage. Green olives should be cured to remove the bitterness and all olives pickled in salt, brine or vinegar before eating.
FOR PLANTING choose a spot in full sun with shelter from the wind. Olive trees are best planted in spring when the soil has warmed up after winter.
If planting more than one, space them about three metres apart.
TO CARE water during summer to plump up the fruit and feed with a light dressing of a high-nitrogen fertiliser between spring and autumn.
Prune to the desired size and shape, regularly removing shoots that sprout from the base of the tree.
FOR HARVEST pick fruit in late autumn when it turns black, handling gently to avoid bruising.
TIP Olive trees are prone to bad scale infestations so spray regularly with white oil.
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