This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

March 3, 2016

How to care for the base of your olive tree

If you're fortunate enough to live in a climate that can grow olive trees, you're in luck. I have two of them here, which were tiny saplings when I bought the house in 1993, and they now provide that wonderful dappled shade that is so great in a hot climate. They also are unaffected by the coldest temperatures that we get here in the Phoenix area, and of course they don't mind the heat. And they don't need any addition water. These are desert trees - Google Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, and you'll see plenty of them there, in Jerusalem. Oh, and by the way, if you've heard that you should cut yours down because they cause allergies, please don't. It's the Bermuda grass that causes the worst allergies in the valley - get rid of that. And spray your olive tree yearly so that it won't produce olives.

Like all things in the garden, the base of an olive tree can be a thing of beauty, or a terrible mess. Olive trees produce "suckers" (yes, that's the actual term) at the base, which is normal for this type of tree (which is really just an oversized bush). I've seen a lot of different ways to deal with this, including (yuk!) trimming them into little "pom-pom" shapes. The best solution is to trim off the suckers as they appear, and reveal the beautiful, sculptural quality of the base of an olive tree.

I use an ordinary chisel. This is a nice little brainless job to do when your concentration is poor, and you really shouldn't be doing anything important (which for me is quite often). I sit on the ground and chisel the suckers. Then I use the chisel to gently scrape the base. After that I blow it all out with my electric rechargeable blower.

I just finished up a few minutes ago, and I gotta tell ya, it's a satisfying thing to do. Just call me a chisler!
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