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Will growing olive trees just to kill them for soil work well?  RSS feed

 
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My area has millions of feral olive trees producing millions of unwanted olives. They’re classed as a noxious weed here.

I thought I might collect and drop many thousands of olives in my clay vegetable beds just so I can chop them down when they grow a few inches high. My thinking is their many rotting roots would add lots of organic matter to the soil without depleting many nutrients as they’d still be young. It’s a small area so I could pull any stubborn trees out if any roots survived.
 
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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My first thought was "why are the olives unwanted?" LOL.

The only problem I can think of when doing this would be if the trees will sprout from the spreading roots for survival (sumac can produce a huge field of sumac from one mother tree from this attribute).
Do keep in mind that when pulling trees out of the ground you are going to create a disturbance similar to nature's method of pit and mound when a tree blows down in a forest, this is a good thing to know since you can then use that pit for adding nutrients.
Overall I think you have a good idea for introducing organic matter in a very natural method.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
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Tim, You must be living in heaven!
I think olive has allopathic properties. Wherever I mulched with olive-wood chips, growth was suppressed for a year or two. Woodchips is quite different from olive-stones or seedlings. I don't except seedlings to pose a big problem. A small sized trial will certainly give you an answer.
I do something similar with bay tree. I don't intentionally plant them, but they pop up everywhere. I chop or pull them when they reach 20 cm's. I can't say it makes any visible impact, nonetheless any roots and other organic material is very much appreciated. Chopping does not kill them and this is the only issue with bay seeds.
Olive stones take a very long time to decompose. Maybe you can use them as mulch? They are basically wood balls.

Hope it helps.
 
pollinator
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Tim,

I also have an over abundance of olive trees (autumn olive in my case) and I trim them back and chip them up each year.  As has already been mentioned, simply cutting them will not kill them.  Perhaps if you mowed them weekly or trimmed them the moment they popped their heads up you would kill it eventually, but it won’t go easy.  

If you do plant them, I suggest you do so in a place you don’t mind having them for at least part of the year.  Once you have them they can be a very valuable source of chips as they have been for me.  I have not noticed any allopathic effects and I have them on all of my beds and last year I had one bed composed entirely of chips (mostly autumn olive) being broken down by wine cap mushrooms.  This year, thanks to the mushrooms, that bed looks like crumbly soil.  I also have a new chip bed and hopefully a third.

If you want a source of chips, olives are a great option, but bear in mind that they have a will of their own and will grow out of control given the opportunity.  Personally, I think this is a great use of your natural resources.

Best of luck,

Eric
 
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Eric, that's great information about autumn olive, but they are not very similar to olives, so may or may not be similar in their effects.
 
Eric Hanson
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Rebecca,

Fair enough, I can only really comment on the “trees” with which I have had experience.  My “olive” experience is limited to Russian and autumn olives which are very similar to each other.

Eric
 
Tim Kivi
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Feral olives at small and not very tasty; not as good as store bought or when from a good cultivar. Nevertheless I do pickle them and use them in cooking. If I lived somewhere with more than a courtyard I’d build a press and make my own olive oil.

Our forests are being overrun by olives that are eaten by birds then spread by their droppings. Our Councils poison them because they outcompete local trees.

A jacaranda tree above my garden bed drops seeds all over and seedlings are always popping up; some even grew in my pots and i’m going to take up bonsai with them
 
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You might consider guerilla grafting useful olive cultivars onto some of the pesky feral olives. People do that around here. We have lots of cherry tree, plum, and apple seedlings that pop up and do not produce good fruit. People graft cultivars that they like and do well here onto them
 
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