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How to Grow Olives in Your Urban Garden

As cities become increasingly populated, urban gardening is becoming an increasingly popular hobby for those looking to find peace and relaxation in the comfort of their own homes or small outdoor spaces. Olives are a popular choice for urban gardening due to their relatively low maintenance requirements, ease of cultivation and countless culinary uses. In this article, we’ll explore the precise steps required to successfully grow olives in an urban garden.

Identifying Suitable Varieties

Growing olives in an urban garden can be a rewarding experience, however, it is important to identify varieties that are suitable for the climate you are located in. Olives prefer to grow in Mediterranean climates or areas that experience mild winters and hot, dry summers. The optimal temperature range for olives is 15-20°C during the day, with minimum temperatures of 8-10°C at night. Olives are adapted to tolerate hot, dry summers and mild winters and will struggle to survive in overly rainy or humid climates.

What Type of Soil is Needed for Growing Olives?

Once you have determined that the climate you live in is suitable for growing olives, you will need to identify the type of soil that is suitable for growing olives. Olives generally prefer deep, well-drained, loamy soil and prefer soil pH between 6.5 and 7.5. The soil should have sufficient organic matter to facilitate good drainage and prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged. Poor drainage can lead to root diseases that can affect the health of your olive tree.

Which Varieties of Olives are Best Suited to Growing?

Once you have identified a suitable climate and type of soil, you will need to identify the best varieties of olives to grow in your garden. Olive varieties are divided into four categories based on their propagation, growth habit and oil production: table olives, dry-cured, oil-cured and sweet-cured. Consider the climate and soil you have available and identify varieties that are adapted to these conditions. Moreover, some varieties are better suited to specific uses, such as eating or pickling, so factor this into your decision. Finally, make sure that the variety you select is suitable for the size and shape of your garden.

Soil Preparation

Growing olives in an urban garden requires special considerations for soil preparation. The ideal soil for olive trees needs to be well-drained, nutrient-rich, and alkaline to support olive trees’ healthy growth. Therefore, before planting your olive trees, take the following steps to set up the best environment for your trees:


Tilling or digging up your garden soil is the first step toward creating the ideal environment for olive trees. It helps loosen up the soil and aerate it, improving its drainage capabilities. As you dig, mix some compost or other organic matter into the soil. This helps provide the extra nutrients your olive trees will need to thrive.

Testing the Soil

Having the soil tested for its pH levels is essential for ensuring your olive trees have the optimal growing environment. The ideal pH level for olive trees is slightly alkaline, from 7.5 to 8.3. If the pH of your soil is too low, add lime or other alkaline material to raise it to the ideal level.

Cover Crops for Soil Improvement

You can use cover crops to improve the fertility of the soil you’re growing olives in. Leguminous cover crops such as red and white clover, vetch, alfalfa, and peas are ideal for fixing nitrogen into the soil, which is essential for olive growth. When selecting a cover crop, make sure that it is suitable to your specific climate.


Using a layer of mulch around your olive trees is also recommended to help the soil retain moisture and ward off weeds. A mulch of grass or straw works well because it helps break down and add nitrogen to the soil. Make sure to keep mulch away from the tree trunk, as it can potentially damage the tree.

By taking the time to properly prepare the soil for olive trees, you will be giving your olive trees the best chance for a successful harvest. With the right care and some patience, you will soon be enjoying your own homegrown olives in your urban garden.

Planting and Care

Urban gardens vary in size and soil type, so it is important to find an olive variety that is suitable for your climate and soil. Common olive types suitable for an urban garden environment include Arbequina, Manzanilla, and Sevillano. These olives are heat-resistant, disease-resistant, and can produce a large yield of fruit.

Choosing the Right Location for Planting

When selecting a location for growing olives, choose a spot that gets plenty of sun and has well-draining soil. Olives will not do well in a shady area since they need a lot of sunlight for optimal growth, and wet or heavy clay soil can lead to root rot.

Planting Instructions

Young olive trees should be planted in the spring or summer, when the weather is warm and the soil is moist. Dig a hole larger than the root ball and place the tree in the center of the hole, ensuring the root ball is covered. Gently firm the soil in the hole and water well.

Ongoing Care of Your Olives

If you want to ensure your olive trees thrive and produce fruit, they will need regular care throughout the year. Water regularly, especially during dry spells. Prune the trees if needed, removing any branches that are diseased or otherwise damaged. Feed the soil with nutrients such as compost and fertilizer so the trees can absorb the essential minerals required for growth and fruit production. Additionally, monitor for aphids, mites, and other pests that may attack your trees.

Harvesting Your Olives

Olives take several months to ripen, depending on the variety. Check their progress throughout the summer. When they are ready to pick, use a ladder or net to catch them and put them in a paper bag or basket. Olives are ready to eat right away, or you can store them for up to a year if you choose.

Fertilizing and Watering

Growing olives in your urban garden requires very specific soil conditions that must be met in order to properly support the plant. One of the most important steps to take when growing olives is to maintain a nutrient-rich environment in the soil. To do this, you should use a slow-release, granular fertilizer to supply essential nutrients. When applying fertilizer, make sure to spread it evenly around the base of the tree and avoid over-fertilizing. To ensure that the olive trees receive a consistent supply of nutrients, it is important to fertilize every two to four months.

Maintaining an Optimal Watering Regimen

Watering is one of the most important steps in growing healthy olive trees. Olives need a consistent supply of water, especially when they are in the developing stages. Without the proper amount of water, the trees will suffer from dehydration and won’t be able to produce healthy, edible olives. You should check the soil around the tree for moisture before watering. If the soil is dry, then it is time to water the tree. Make sure to not water too much, because this can cause root rot. Aim to keep the soil slightly moist throughout the growing period. Water deeper and less frequently to encourage strong root systems and soil aeration. During the summer months, when the weather is particularly hot, you may need to water the tree more frequently.

Pruning and Training

Growing olives in an urban garden is a great way to cultivate a healthy and fruitful tree. To ensure a successful harvest, it’s important to prune and train the plant correctly. Before you begin pruning, it’s essential that you prepare your olive tree correctly. First, make sure it is watered adequately and that the soil is kept moist. Additionally, check that the tree is receiving enough sunlight and has adequate drainage.

Choosing the Right Pruning Solution

When it comes to pruning an olive tree, the goal is to create an open center to allow for a good amount of light. This helps to maintain a convenient balance between sunlight and shade. Additionally, it will allow for maximum airflow, helping with disease control and pest management. Some gardeners choose to prune their olive trees as a vase-shaped tree, while others opt for a “Christmas tree” shape. Ultimately, the type of pruning solution you choose will depend on the type of tree you are pruning.

Timing of Pruning

When it comes to pruning an olive tree, timing is everything. Ideally, pruning should occur before the start of spring, as this is when the tree will be actively growing. This gives the tree plenty of time to recover and develop new shoots. If you prune too late in the season, you might cause more harm than good.

Training the Olive Tree

Once you have pruned your olive tree, it’s time to begin training it. This involves using support systems such as stakes, poles, wires, and branches to keep the olive tree upright. As the tree begins to grow, the trained branches should be tied to their support systems using twine. Additionally, you might want to consider adding an espalier, which is a more advanced form of training that involves pruning and wiring the branches of the tree into a desired shape.

Caring for Your Olive Tree

Once you’ve pruned and trained your olive tree, it’s important to provide it with the best possible care. This includes regularly watering and fertilizing the plant. Additionally, you should also be vigilant about removing any dead or diseased wood from the tree. Finally, it’s important to inspect for any pests or disease and address any issues quickly to ensure a healthy tree and bountiful harvest.

Harvesting and Storing Olives

Growing olives in your urban garden can be a rewarding experience, as it allows you to reap the bounty of olives you can use for cooking, salads, or other dishes. When it comes time to harvest your olives, there are a few things to keep in mind. Olives are best harvested when they have reached their ideal ripeness. Generally, olives should be light green to pinkish black in color when picked. Do not wait for them to turn completely black. You can easily tell when an olive has ripened by simply shaking the branch and seeing if the olives fall off.

When harvesting, make sure to clip the stems of the olives cleanly, taking care not to damage the surrounding trees. You can collect olives in a basket, or use clippers or pruners to make the job easier. Gently move the olives into a container and make sure not to bruise them.

Storing Olives After Harvesting

Once you have collected your olives, the next step is to store them properly. Olives can be stored for several weeks in the refrigerator, but should be used soon after harvesting for the best flavor. If you want to store your olives for longer, it is best to cure them in a brine solution.

To do this, you need to make a brine solution of salt, water, and a small amount of lemon juice or vinegar. Soak your olives in the brine solution for two to three weeks, making sure to stir the solution occasionally. This will help the olives cure properly and last longer.

Once the olives have been cured in the brine solution, strain off the liquid and store the olives in a covered container in cool place. Olives can last for up to a year when stored this way.

Preparing Olives for Eating

When it comes time to prepare your olives for eating, there are a few steps to follow. First, rinse the olives under cold water and pat dry. Next, use a knife to slit the skin of each olive and remove the pit. Once the pits are removed, you can season the olives with your favorite spices and herbs. Olives can also be stuffed with cheese, nuts, or other ingredients.

Finally, your olives can be cooked using a variety of methods, such as baking, roasting, or sautéing. Enjoy your freshly harvested olives however you prefer!

Harvesting Olives in Your Urban Garden

Growing olives in an urban garden is an easy and rewarding endeavor. Not only will you have a delicious and nutritious crop, but it also adds beauty and interest to your garden. Olives can be grown in containers or in the ground, and the amount of care and maintenance required is minimal. To achieve a successful harvest, you must allow the olives to develop to the requisite size, and then pick them when they are at their peak. Properly harvested olives can be stored, canned, or cured, and can be enjoyed on their own or as part of a dish. With some patience and the right environment, you can be harvesting delicious olives in your urban garden in no time.

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