Peter and Caroline O’Clery of Homeleigh Grove Olives, give the following tips for growing backyard olives:
- Some oil producing varieties of olives suited to the Canberra climate include ‘Frantoio’, ‘Correggiola’ and ‘Leccino’. Table varieties include ‘Manzanillo’, ‘Sevillano’and ‘Californian Queen’.
- Plant in a sunny aspect with neutral soil pH and good drainage.
- Grow two trees in the vicinity for effective flower pollination – encourage a neighour to grow one in their backyard if you don’t have the space.
- Apply seaweed extract throughout the year. You can use other organic matter and fertilisers but avoid those high in nitrogen as this will promote leaf growth over fruit production.
- Apply boron twice per year, but critical you apply only as directed.
- When young, tip prune lateral branches to encourage bushy central growth, before maintaining trunk height at 800mm. Pruning of young trees is best carried out in spring after frosty weather has passed. Thereafter trees can also be pruned in autumn, keeping in mind that olives fruit on one-year old growth. To reduce any chances of disease, spray larger pruning cuts or damage to the trunk or branches with copper spray.
- Water reliably during the flowering and fruiting seasons to promote ample fruit set and good-sized fruit.
- Remove any fallen fruit and keep base of the tree free of prunings to discourage birds and prevent pest and disease problems.
- Treat any outbreaks of black scale or olive lace bug. Treat the scale with white oil or similar; and the ensuing sooty mould with mild soapy water and hosing off. The olive lace bug can be biologically controlled with several native parasites and the native green lacewing. There are also organic and non-organic insecticide options available.
- Olives are great subjects for espalier and pot culture.
- Olives will pay you in dividends when well maintained.
Homeleigh Grove Olive’s multi award-winning products are supplied to local businesses, as well as being available at the Capital Region Farmers Market at EPIC on (most) Saturdays and online.
For more: homeleigh.com.au