Q: I brought back a few dried olives from Israel. I would like to plant them in our back yard. What is the best way to ensure they will grow and how do I care for them?
A: Georgia once had an olive growing industry along our coast but a hurricane in 1898 wrecked the olive groves. A few trees survived in landscapes but no one has attempted commercial olive growing in Georgia until recently. Blueberry farmers have taken the lead in experimenting with olives. They note the similar equipment used for care and that south Georgia, near the Florida line, has a climate similar to Spain, Italy and Israel. The key seems to be finding varieties that tolerate cold weather without damage and that can be easily harvested. If you want to experiment, remove the seed from the skins and soak the seed in soapy water overnight to remove deleterious oils. Place the seed in a pot filled with moist potting soil and press them into the surface. Cover the pot with a plastic bag and keep it in a warm, sunny window for several weeks. If the seeds germinate, remember that they may not be at all cold-hardy and that the fruit may well be smaller than the original source. Keep me updated on your progress!
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