It wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered one of my favorite things to eat: avocados. I don't think it was an overnight discovery. Instead, I think I probably tried guacamole at some point as a teenager and liked it a little bit. Then I probably tried a "California" turkey sandwich or wrap at some point in college and liked it a lot. And finally, I probably bought an avocado at the store at some point in graduate school and liked eating it even more, but plain this time, just avocado slices on a fork. (Apparently, one-quarter cup of sliced avocado makes up a serving, which amounts to about one-fifth of a medium-sized avocado. I sort of figured that the world's food and diet gurus did not intend for someone to devour the entire avocado in one sitting when they suggested adding avocado to a well-balanced diet to increase the "good" monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids. No extra credit for me, it seems, but then again, I think moderation can be so overrated.)
Anyway, one of the most fun things about buying an avocado at the store, as opposed to just treating yourself to some guacamole at your favorite Mexican spot, is the fact that when you finish eating your avocado, you're left with something quite useful -- the seed, that is. Yep, as opposed to the time you tried to plant apple seeds in your front yard only to be disappointed when nothing grew, you honest-to-goodness can grow a tree from an avocado seed. Here's how.
|I apologize in advance for the sub-par photographs.|
Step 1: Buy an avocado. (Squeeze it gently to determine its ripeness. Sometimes it can be hit or miss and you'll end up with a stringy, yucky mess, but that's life.)
Step 2: Eat the avocado. (If you're new to avocados, or you're not really interested in just slicing it and forking it, then I suggest making a sandwich with yellow mustard, thinly sliced Black Forest ham, a slice or two of Muenster cheese, and several slices of avocado. For best results, grill the sandwich until the cheese melts. Mmmm, delicious.)
Step 3: Wash the seed gently to make sure you've gotten all of the avocado off of it.
Step 4: Add water to a small glass dish.
Step 5: Stick four toothpicks into the sides of the avocado seed so it will rest at least halfway in the water when you place it on the dish. (This step is hard to describe, but I'm sure you can figure it out with the pictures.)
|After about a week|
Step 6: Watch it grow. (Warning: This step takes patience. You'll need to make sure to change the water in the dish if it starts to get cloudy or gross. And you'll need to add water when too much evaporates; the bottom of the seed should always be sitting in water. From my memory, this step can take anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks, or perhaps longer depending on the time of year, I guess.)
Step 7: Plant your avocado tree in dirt. (When roots begin to grow in the water, and when a shoot springs from the top of the seed with some tiny leaves, you are ready to transplant the plant into dirt.)
I successfully grew two avocado trees from seeds a little over a year ago (one of which grew to about 6 feet tall), but during this frightfully cold winter, the trees' leaves turned brown and their trunks turned stiff. I thought I lost them.
But hope springs eternal around here so I just cut off the brown, stiff parts and wished for the best.
And you know what? I'm pretty sure they're coming back for round two.
Now if I only knew how to make these trees bear fruit.
On second thought, I think tree mating may be a bit beyond my skill level.
P.S. If you're interested in learning more about avocados, check out the California Avocado Commission's website.