Cape Town, are you looking to grow your own olive tree for some garden shade or do you want to delve into olive farming to harvest fruit for a delicious table snack of olives or even Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Olive trees are known to live for as long as 600 years, and thanks to SA Olive, we have a few pointers to get you started:
Let’s start with the climate
Olive trees are naturally found in the Mediterranean area where winters are mild, but summers are long, dry and warm. Olive trees can be grown anywhere with a frost-free climate, well-drained soil and irrigation. The primary olive producing area in South Africa is in the Western Cape.
Your cultivar choice will depend on the region you are farming/planting in, as well as what you are hoping to achieve from your crops.
Different cultivars produce different flavours in the fruits and the oil. The mission varietal is popularly planted in South Africa and is in fact widely adaptable. It’s well-suited to home gardeners and black olive productions and olive oil.
Other recommended cultivars are:
Kalamata: black table olive
Manzanilla: green table olive
Barouni: green queen table olive
Frantoio: high-quality olive oil and cross-pollinator
Growing an olive tree in a pot (for home growing)
A fully grown olive tree can reach more than six meters in height, while young olive trees will thrive in a pot. Olive trees can also be grown indoors, provided that they are placed in a spot where it receives six hours of direct sunlight.
Top up a pot with fresh soil every couple of years and water the tree lightly but regularly. If you grow an olive tree as a houseplant, make sure to choose a dwarf variety that will only grow to 1.8 meters. Some gardeners even grow olive trees as a bonsai.
Orchard Establishment (for farming)
SA Olive recommends that olive trees be ordered from registered nurseries who are listed with SA Olive. All trees should be about 18 months old, at least 0.5 meters in height, and should be planted in late winter or early spring for a successful orchard. Consult an expert on soil preparation and planting distances.
There are many factors involved in the care of a potted olive tree and the management of your prepared orchard, so be sure to do your homework and research.
The average lifespan of an olive tree is between 300 and 600 years – this means that you will have something you can pass along from generation to generation. Make it your own family tree.
Visit the SA Olive Website and follow us on social media.