Old 11-08-2008, 12:32 PM
james's Avatar
Brick Oven Merchant
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Pebble Beach, CA
Posts: 4,648
Default 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?

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Old 11-08-2008, 12:55 PM
staestc's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Rockwall,TX
Posts: 235
Default 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!

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Old 11-08-2008, 02:18 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: CA
Posts: 26
Default 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.
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Old 11-08-2008, 05:59 PM
DrakeRemoray's Avatar
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Littleton, CO
Posts: 1,211
Default 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?

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Old 11-08-2008, 08:17 PM
christo's Avatar
Master Builder
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Eastern NC
Posts: 910
Default 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 -

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Old 11-08-2008, 08:30 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 1,446
Default 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.

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Old 11-10-2008, 10:34 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Rockwall, Texas
Posts: 34
Default 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 worldıs 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 1930ıs. 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 1930ıs
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 seasonıs 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
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Old 11-10-2008, 11:52 AM
staestc's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Rockwall,TX
Posts: 235
Default 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!

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Old 11-11-2008, 04:26 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: CA
Posts: 26
Default 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.
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Old 11-11-2008, 04:43 PM
staestc's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Rockwall,TX
Posts: 235
Default 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!

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