Olives are an evergreen, Mediterranean tree that bears fruit in a sunny and sheltered position. Established trees can grow up to 12 feet, although they are slow growing, and they can tolerate drought conditions.
Due to the slow rate of growth, Olive trees can be planted in large containers, which is ideal for transferring it to the greenhouse during the colder months. Olive trees are not fully hardy in the UK. Olive trees can also be planted in the soil; ideally in a full sun, sheltered spot.
Olive trees can be planted March - May in well-drained soil. Keep the Olive tree well-watered for the first two years until it becomes established. Container grown Olive trees will require regular watering as compost dries out quicker. Feed the Olive tree with multi-purpose liquid fertiliser approximately once per month. Add mulch to retain moisture and supress the weeds.
Prune the Olive tree to improve exposure and air flow, and to remove dead or diseased branches in the spring. Pinch out the growing tips when the Olive tree has reached approximately 5 feet. The fruits are formed on the previous year's growth.
Olive trees will not tolerate low, cold temperatures and so will need protection. If it is container grown, you can transfer it indoors.
Following flowering, Olives will be ready to harvest from October - December. They turn from green to black and can be harvested at either stage.
Green olives will need soaking in salted water for several days before consumption to eradicate the bitterness and black olives require dry curing in salt for several weeks until they are dehydrated and then stored in brine or olive oil.