Two of the most popular edibles to eat Olives and Grapes are just as easy to grow successfully. Both are extremely water wise and do best in a sunny spot and just as well in a large container producing fruit many years even decades to come. Both are plants for pollinators and add interest to the landscape with their leaf colours and textures.
Olive trees are great not only as fruit tree options but also as a tree in the garden that attracts birds. The Olive branch it is the symbol of peace and it is also a symbol of strength and survival with the hard wood of the tree being able to withstand a variety of conditions.
Although the birds love the fruit it is possible to get some for yourself off the trees and if you don't want to harvest the fruit looks attractive on the tree too. We sell two of the most popular and best suited to our climate fruiting varieties. For green olives we recommend Spanish Queen and for Black Olives the best variety by far is Mission. New for us is the Tuscan Olive Frantoio which popularly grown for olive oil but is also delicious and have a nutty flavour when pickled.
All are self-pollinating but for more fruit planting two or more is best, as cross pollination will increase the amount of fruit. Olive trees are most productive in with hot, dry summers and milder winter weather and while olive trees are astoundingly tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions but they don't like wet feet.
Growing olive trees
To ensure you give your olive tree the best possible start to life, just follow these tips:
- Plant them in the sunniest position possible, ideally north or west facing.
- Plant in free-draining soil that will not become waterlogged during the wetter parts of the year. Plant into a hole that is wider than deeper and include compost and Bone Meal for strong root development.
- Olive trees can be easily pruned to maintain the size and habit required. We recommend that light, formative pruning is undertaken in mid-spring with heavier trimming in early to mid-summer. Like many Mediterranean trees, olives need some heat and recovery time to heal wounds before the dormant winter period.
- Feed your olive tree with a high Nitrogen fertiliser such as Nitrosol or BioGanic through the summer months.
Container grown olives
Olives do exceptionally well in containers provided they have a wide opening and that there is sufficient drainage. Use only potting soil in the container when planting as this will help with drainage. The container should be in a spot where it receives at least five or six hours a day of full sun. Fertilise the potted olive every month through summer and early autumn and then not through mid-winter.
Prune the olive after the spring buds are through and have turned into leaves. Clipping the ends will encourage a full topiary to develop. The only thing to watch out for is too much watering as they need very little in a container and keep a watch for Scale insects which sit under the leaves and on the soft stems of the plant.
Wine grapes grow famously in the Cape wine land's and even along the Orange River, all dry places with rocky soil and little rainfall. But they will grow well in our local area where they just need something to cling to and grow around.
A few things to consider and soon you will have a very rewarding and worthwhile addition to any style of garden. Find a spot where there is good air circulation around the vine. They prefer a loose soil with good drainage and as much sun as possible.
Believe it or not it's almost impossible to kill a grape vine. In the first year let them just grow wild and then at pruning the second year you guide and shape them into the structure that you want.
Catawba is a popular dark red variety that is exceptionally vigorous grower with a very sweet taste that makes it ideal to serve fresh or for adding to your morning smoothie. Crimson Seedless has a good large size fruit and is popular as it is heavy fruit producing variety.
Quick Care and Tips
- Plant your vines with compost, Bone meal and BioOcean. Feed throughout summer with BioOcean or BioGanic every alternate month.
- Grapes are water wise and resent too much water or being waterlogged through summer. That is why drainage is very important when choosing a spot to plant one.
- All grapes need a support. Plant them up a trellis or over an arch or pergola for the best results.
- Grapes are pruned in winter quite heavily and then shoot out for spring and fruiting through mid to late summer.
- Through our summer rainfall period watch for signs of Mildew or Rust on the leaves as that will limit your harvest or quality of fruit.