avocado

The wonderful summer brings it with the equally wonderful avocados. Chock full of nutrients with a burst of flavor. Whether it is a zesty lime guacamole dip that you whip to have with tortilla chips or a baked one with eggs and chorizo, this fruit signals the arrival of summer. Consider saving the avocado pits when you slice some for a salad next time because growing them is surprisingly easy!

Here are a few tips that will help you with growing avocado in your garden:

1.     Site

Like most plants, avocados also grow best in areas with good drainage. They will also need all the sun they can get, so make sure the site has complete exposure to the sun. Competing with other trees for their share of vitamin D is so not their style!

Since the tree has shallow roots, you will need to choose a soil type that will have good aeration. For that, coarse yard mulch – woody and 2 inches in diameter – mixed with soil will work perfectly. Try experimenting with Redwood bark or cocoa bean husks to see which works for you. Also, ensure that the soil pH is somewhere around 6-6.5.

2.     Temperature

When it comes to the optimal temperature, springtime is the best time to plant. Since they like warm ground, you can start growing them anywhere from March through June. With the risk of sun damage, it is better to leave off planting them in the warm season. The major issue that the young plants will have if planted during the summer, is water uptake.

3.     Sowing

It is better to get the seed to germinate indoors and then plant it outside as a small plant. To get the seed to germinate, clean it and stick 4 toothpicks at a slight downward angle spaced evenly into the seed. Using the toothpicks as a scaffold, place the seed over a glass of water so that its bottom half is immersed. Place the glass where it will get plenty of sunlight, such as a windowsill. Change the water in the glass after five days or so.

Within eight weeks, the avocado pit will crack at the top all the way to the bottom. It is then that a tiny taproot will begin to emerge. Soon it will grow longer until a small sprout peeks from the top of the avocado pit. Keep the root submerged at all times. Watch until the stem is 6 inches long and cut it back to half its length. When it reaches 6 inches again, that is the time to take your plant outside.

4.     Planting

The hole that you dig should be larger than the size of the root ball. Ease the plant into the hole because the avocado root system is very sensitive. For heavy soils, create a mound 1 to 2 feet high and 3-5 feet in diameter before planting. Spread 20 pounds of gypsum and mulch at the base.

5.     Feeding

Younger trees will need frequent fertilization but with a lighter hand. Trees will need half a pound of nitrogen per annually. Apply a quarter cup of fertilizer every alternate week but lower the frequency during heavy flowering. Do not to rake fallen leaves since they are a source of mulch as well.

6.     Water

Avocados are subtropical fruits and that means they love their water! In hot weather, water twice a week. Watch out for tip burn because it is probably build up of salt and you will have to increase watering.

7.     Care

Start pruning in February or sooner but make sure that you do so after the threat of frost has passed. Branches that go in a downward direction need to go. So will the ones that are close to the ground or touching it since they can lead to an ant infestation. Top any long green-stemmed suckers that go straight up. Ensure that the center of the tree stays open since the optimal shape of the avocado tree is vase-like.

8.     Pests

Aphid will love the delicious avocado leaves. Washing them off by spraying your plant down with a hose is the first step in getting rid of them. Once the pests are gone, spray the plant with this mixture:

  • A squirt of dishwashing liquid
  • 1-teaspoon neem oil
  • Water

9.     Harvest

As long as the fruit stays on the tree, the oil content will keep rising. Therefore, picking time can span over several months. Start picking when the fruit is the color that you prefer since the color will darken with the increasing oil content. To pick for quality, a safe rule is that the best tasting avocado is often the one that has just fallen from a tree. You cannot tell if the fruit is ripe by just looking at its color though. That is why, once you have harvested it, lumping it with fruits that give off ethylene, such as bananas and apples, will get it to ripen within 2-3 days.

10. Varieties

While there are some generalizations about the avocado plant, such as they do not like the cold, they prefer coastal climates and moderate temperatures, if grown inland. The climate zone where you grow your plant will determine other factors, such as which cultivar will you need and when to harvest the fruit.

Avocado trees can be divided into Type A and Type B. For A, all flowers open as female in the morning. For B, that happens in the afternoon. Planting both types will increase the chances of successful pollination. Following is a list of the various cultivars of the avocado plant:

Maturing Season falls between September to December

  • Duke (A)
  • Mexicola (A)
  • Stewart (A)

Maturing Season falls between January to July

  • Hass (A)
  • Wurtz (A)

Maturing Season falls between November to March

  • Fuerte (B)
  • Gwen (A)
  • Jim (B)
  • SirPrize (B)

Maturing Season falls between April to December

  • Lamb Hass (A)
  • Reed (A)
  • Pinkerton (A)