The olive tree (Olea Europaea) comes in about 700 cultivated varieties. The olive tree likes plenty of sun and a well drained soil to flourish and build strong roots. It can grow as tall as fifty feet and spread out about 30 feet. Olive trees bloom in late spring. The olive tree is actually a fruit producing tree, similar to plums, cherries and peaches. When young, the fruit is green and as it ripens, it turns a dark purple or black…the darker the color, the more ripe. The olive is about 2 inches. They are generally oval in shape, but some are elongated with pointed ends.
Growing and harvesting Olives
The olive tree grows in regions where the winter temperature does not drop below 12 degrees F. Although, the tree may be grown in a container and taken indoors when the temperature drops. The olive tree begins bearing fruit between 4-8 years. The time to harvest olives depends on the end use. If the olives are to be cured, they are usually harvested before ripe. If they are to be eaten as black olives, the olives are picked later on and allowed for the olive to ripen (with the aid of special processing). If the olive is to be turned into oil, the fruit is allowed to mature. If the oil is harvested early, the oil will be peppery with full bodied aroma. If the oil is harvested later on, it produces a lighter and milder oil.