Autumn Olive ( elaeagnus umbellata) is a deciduous shrub or smallish tree, originally native to eastern Asia. It’s a good nitrogen fixer, and it has small berries that appear to be similar in taste and usage to redcurrants – they can be used to make jams and sauces, on pastries, or in cakes and in trifles.
Autumn olives are regarded as an invasive species in certain parts of the US, but they’re not invasive in the UK so it’s ok to grow them over here.
This is our first go at growing autumn olives at Meddwl Coed. I’ll level with you, it’s our first go at growing any kind of tree from seed, and the fact that they’ve been left to my tender mercies and survived thus far is pretty impressive (and a little surprising 😉 )
The seeds were bought from Forestart , who sell 250 seeds for £1.50 plus postage. We cold stratified them in my salad drawer for three months, from the end of October until the end of January. In retrospect, I would have left them in the cold for another two weeks, because I wanted to plant the seedlings outdoors at the end of March rather than in the middle of the month to avoid late frosts.
We put the germinated seeds in compost and grew them on the windowsill. Of the 16 seeds that showed sign of germination, nine have grown into full seedlings. Some didn’t grow at all, and a couple grew a bit and then kind of fell over and died for whatever reason. And now they’re pretty much ready to plant out, in the raised bed and with tree protectors (plastic bottles with the tops and bottoms cut off ) to give them a bit of shelter.