Sunday, December 30, 2012

Journal December 30, 2012

In a previous post I wrote that I had read that propagating olive cuttings was an art form, but the author did not provide any details.  While surfing the web last evening I came across the International Olive Council's site. ; and while the information regarding propagation on the site is geared toward major growers, I did find some useful information that I could apply to my growing conditions. 

To date not a single cutting taken from one of the trees has rooted, but I am not discouraged at this point, as this is, after all, a learning experience.  As I was removing the tops of the plants to encourage lateral growth, I tried to start the cuttings, regardless of the growing stage of the plants.  

The plants arrived in November and were preparing to go dormant for the winter, which is apparently not the time to take olive cuttings.  According to the site, the cuttings should be taken from actively growing plants.

The mission olive kind of went into shock when I pruned a foot off the top, and it  remained inactive for several weeks.  For the last few weeks the plant has been sending out new lateral branches and buds, however, it was still too tall and needed to have about another foot removed to get it to where I want it, namely a bush.

I decided to remove another section from the tip, and try to clone the cutting, as it is definitely actively growing. I removed a 5" section of the plant and trimmed off all but four leaves, cut an incision at the base of the cutting about 1" in length, and dipped the cutting in Clonex rooting gel.

In essence, I pretty much followed the instructions on the olive council's site. As I do not have misting equipment, I placed the cutting under an improvised dome, and I will mist it by hand several times a day.

More than 2500 years ago, the Romans planted olive trees by the millions across every territory they conquered, and they did not have rooting hormones, or misting equipment either. 

From the suggested production schedules on the site, I found that commercial growers allow four months for seed germination. As my seeds were only started in November, I guess I still have a while to wait for germination.  

As I still have seeds remaining, I decided to incorporate the site's methods of seed germination to my conditions; so I soaked four seeds in vinegar and thoroughly cleaned the seed coats.  The seeds will be allowed to dry for ten days, and then I will soak them in water for eighteen days prior to planting them.

Why you have to dry them and then rehydrate them is a mystery to me though.  I wonder if the ancient Romans did that?

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