Sometimes cultivated far from the Mediterranean rim, Olive Flowering is not only an ornamental tree. It is also a fruit tree, capable, if planted with light and warmth, of flowering before producing several kilos of beautiful olives for harvest.
What you need to know:
- Botanical name: European wave
- Common name: olive, common olive
- Family: Oleaceae
- Height: 10 to 15 m in adulthood, with very slow growth. The olive tree can live for more than 1000 years!
- Trunk: short, often leaning. In young trees, the bark is gray and smooth. Around 40 she becomes brown, very tight. Then it gradually thickens, forming numerous ridges.
- Foliage: The simple, opposite leaves, longer (8 cm) than wide (2 cm), are leathery and durable. A beautiful greenish-grey shade with white dots on top, they are whitish and scaly on the back.
- flowers : White to creamy, slightly fragrant, forming between May and June in short drooping clusters in the axils of the leaves.
- Fruit : Olives 1 cm to 3.5 cm, oval or round, remain green for a long time and then turn black or brown when ripe. Their flesh is very fatty.
- Exposure: The olive tree requires a lot of light and heat.
- Sole : Light, well drained and deep, even poor, dry and chalky. The tree is afraid of excessive moisture in the soil and air.
- hardiness : Sensitive to cold, most varieties freeze between -8°C and -12°C. The strain is resistant to about -15°C.
Flowering Of The Olive And Pollination
The olive’s small creamy white flowers are not pollinated by foraging insects. It is the wind that carries the pollen from one flower to another and sometimes from one tree to another. Olive pollen is also a source of allergies for many people.
Some olive trees are self-fertile. its flowers pollinate each other.
Some kinds require the presence of another olive tree that is growing within a few hundred metres at most so that the wind can carry its pollen in order to produce olives.
Slow to grow, the olive is also slow to bear fruit. It starts to give olives around 10 years. The harvest is then done according to the degree of maturity:
- o GREEN OLIVES are harvested still unripe in September and October.
- The brown and black olives are harvested at full maturity, between November and April, depending on the region and variety. The later the harvest, the less bitter the fruits. Then it is necessary to stretch a net under the tree in autumn so that all the overripe olives that fall by themselves do not spoil.
However, very intense cold or repeated frosts in January and February alter the properties and aromas of the fruits if they are harvested too late.
Raw green olives are not edible. They contain aleuropein, a bitter glucoside.
Before eating them, they must therefore be softened. Their preparation, which is complex, requires regular washing in brine.
Gardener’s tip: Place freshly picked olives in the freezer for a month. The cold softens them.
Planting And Cultivation Of The Olive
The olive appreciates a very draining soil, otherwise it gets sick quickly. Plant it in spring or fall, in a large hole, in a mound if your soil is heavy. Mix good garden soil with compost, sand and gravel.
Watering: In the soil it is useless to water it in the summer. Once established, the olive tolerates drought perfectly. Watering a potted olive tree should be regular but depends on the season.
Fertilize every 2 years by spreading a thick layer of compost (5 cm) over the entire surface of the antlers.
The olive tree grows very well in containers, on a terrace or balcony. Choose a large, deep pot. Use a compost-rich, well-draining growing medium and, to meet its needs, fertilize the tree once a month from March to October. This regular maintenance is key to keeping it healthy.
Pruning is done every year or every 2 years, at the end of winter, outside the frost period and before the appearance of new leaves. Its purpose is to clean the branches and the heart of the tree, to remove dead wood and annoying branches that are located at the bottom.
Watch out for the various olive diseases: especially parasitic insects (black mealybug, olive fly, gall) and fungi (sooty mold, peacock eye).
The Best Olive Varieties
The olive trees that produce the best fruit are all grafted.
- Cailletier, the olive of Nice, offers a small all-black olive produced for a long time in the departments of the Alpes-Maritimes and the neighboring Var. This area wedged between sea and mountains offers very mild weather conditions that allow for a late harvest, spread between January and April.
- Lucca : Originally from Italy, this variety is harvested as green olives from October to December, for table use or oil production. Mainly grown in Languedoc.
- Picholine is the most common variety of green olives. Its harvest is early, from the end of September.
- Carp species, Nyons olive, is one of the most resistant and productive varieties (20 kg of olives per tree). Between December and January, its harvest yields sweet and fragrant black olives.