The avocado travelled all the way across the seas from the land of the Aztecs to Europe, carried there by Spanish explorers who discovered it on their travels. It came into its own in the 1950s and today, thanks in large part to all the discoveries in health and beauty, the avocado is enjoying a high level of popularity.
In this article we take a look at avocado cultivation in detail to help budding gardeners successfully grow their avocado seeds into trees. The first and most important tip in growing avocados is to have a healthy dose of patience; this fruit takes its time to grow!
Sprouting the seed
The first step in the avocado cultivation process can be done one of two ways: either sprout the seeds in water or plant them directly into the soil.
Sprouting in water involves removing the pit from the center of the avocado, washing it well and drying it. Then push toothpicks 3-4 into the thickest parts of the pit to a depth of half inch. Suspend it over a glass of water, which should cover the fat base of the pit. The toothpicks keep it suspended over the water; you need to monitor and top up the level of water regularly.
Place the glass on a brightly lit windowsill; these plants thrive in sunlight and bright light. In approximately 3-6 weeks the pit starts to split open and a stem will sprout from the top and roots from the base. When the stem reaches 5-6 inches in height, remove the top leaves, making room for leaves to grow in 2-3 weeks time.
First planting: young plant
Fill a very large pot with rich potting soil (one inch from the top) and make a hole in the center. Carefully put your sprouting seed roots down into the hole but not too deep; the upper part of the seed needs to be above the soil line. Top up with soil to close air holes near the roots and then gently but firmly push the soil in toward the base of the pit. Make sure the stem and leaves are pointing upward in a straight line. Water the soil generously but do it slowly without making holes in the soil. The plant should be well watered but the soil should not become mud like in texture.
Second planting: in the garden
Avocado plants are well known for their versatility and can adapt to different soils but really thrive in rich, loose, sandy loam. The plants must have good drainage or all your efforts will be in vain. Maintain a pH level of 6.0-7.0 and make sure to plant where they get the best sunlight or you will end up with trees but no fruit. Your avocado grove needs plenty of room, so don’t make the mistake of planting near other plants, the roots will choke them out.
Nourishing the tree
Avocado trees are sturdy enough and when they are a year old you need to nourish them 4 times a year with a well balanced fertilizer. The older trees need a nitrogenous fertilizer feed in late winter and early summer. Yellow leaves are an indication of iron deficiency; correct this using a spray containing trace elements of iron.
Irrigating your avocado grove
Plants may need little or no water in the winter or rainy season but watch out for the dry spells. Excessive watering is the cause of most avocado plant failure; to avoid this test the soil by digging a hole 9 inches deep and squeezing the soil together. When moist it holds together; crumbly soil indicates dryness.