March 14, 2014

Kitchen Tip: How to Start an Avocado Tree

On the Menu Today~
How to Start an Avocado Tree

Have you ever saved the seed/pit from an avocado and tried to get it to grow roots?

The next time you eat an avocado, or use one in a recipe, save the seed or pit. Planting your own avocado tree is fun and easy. It's great for planting in the garden, makes the perfect project for a class room or for a fun project to do at home with the kids.

Preparing the Seed~

1. Remove the pit~ Cut into the avocado carefully, so as not to injure the pit, which is in the fruits center. You can do this by scoring the skin about 1/2 an inch deep all the way around the outside, and then twisting the two halves in opposite directions to open it. Carefully remove the pit and set it aside. Use the inside of the avocado to make your favorite guacamole, chop and add to a salad, or slice and use it to make a ABLT Sandwich:) ABLT a.k.a. Avocado, Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato Sandwich~ My Favorite!

2. Clean the pit~ Wash the avocado pit gently to remove all the flesh. Use warm water and your hands and avoid using any soap. Be careful not to remove the seed cover, which is light brown, this may destroy the pit and make it less likely to grow.

3. Insert toothpicks into the pit~ Holding the pit "narrow" (pointed) side up, stick four toothpicks into the middle section at even intervals, to a depth of about 5 mm. This will allow you to balance the pit on the inside of a glass, without completely inserting it into the glass.

4. Fill a glass/jar with water~ Add some water to a small, slender glass or jar, until it reaches the top rim. I used a small jam/jelly canning jar, (4-6 oz size). Your glass or jars opening should be wide enough to accommodate the full width of the avocado pit easily. However make sure that it is not too wide, otherwise the toothpicks will not be able to reach and the pit will fall in.

5. Set your avocado pit, with inserted toothpicks~ On the top rim of the glass/jar. The toothpicks should sit on the rim of the glass/jar, leaving the pit only half submerged in the water. Make sure the pointed end is up and the rounded end is in the water, otherwise your avocado will not grow.

6. Wait for the pit to sprout~ Set the avocado topped glass/jar in a temperate, undisturbed place, on a window sill or any other well lit and sunny area to begin the sprouting and growth process

7. Change the water every 2-3 days~ Do this to ensure mold, bacteria, fermentation etc., do not hinder the avocados sprouting process. Make sure the base of the avocado always remains moist and submerged in water.

8. Wait patiently for the pit to sprout~ Over the next 2-3+ weeks, the avocados brown outer layer will begin to dry out and wrinkle, eventually sloughing off. Soon after, the pit should begin to split open at the top and bottom. After 3-4+ weeks, a tap root should begin to emerge at the base of the pit. *Note: This time fame differs and is not an approximate time frame. Mine took months to root and for a tap root to begin to emerge.

9. Continue to water the plant accordingly~ Take care not to disturb or injure the tap root. Continue to allow the avocado pit time to establish it's roots. Soon the avocado will sprout at the top, releasing an unfolding leaf-bud that will open and begin to grow a shoot bearing leaves.

10. Planting the Avocado Tree~ Select a location~ Avocado trees are very particular in terms of their ideal climate and growing conditions. Only consider growing/planting your avocado tree outside if the temperature does not drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit at any point throughout the year and your avocado tree is 1 year old. *This means, that where I live, here in Northern WI, I will have to keep my avocado tree inside almost year round. I can put my potted avocado tree outside on the deck during the summer months. I'll start by planting my avocado tree in a small pot, with good quality potting soil and when my tree starts growing larger, I will move up to a medium pot until eventually I can keep it in a large pot, re-potting when necessary.

11. Prepare the soil~ Avocado trees prefer soil at almost any pH level but soil that is low in saline and has plenty of drainage. The soil does not need to be heavily fertilized until after the tree is about 1 year old. At that point use a 10-10-10 fertilizer twice a year. Use regular potting soil and make sure there are plenty of drain holes in the bottom of the pot.

12. Prepare your pot~ Use a 20-25 cm terra cotta pot filled with enriched soil to 2 cm below the top. A 50/50 blend of topsoil works best. Smooth and slightly pack the soil. Add more soil as needed. Once the soil is prepared, dig a narrow hole deep enough to accommodate your avocados roots.

13. Get the seed/pit ready~ When the roots are substantial and the stem top has had a chance to re-grow leaves (after at least one pruning) your baby avocado tree is ready to be planted in soil. Remove the sprouted pit from the water container and gently remove each of the toothpicks.

14. Plant the avocado seed/pit~ Carefully bury the avocado pit in the soil so that the top half of the pit shows above the surface of the soil. This ensures the base of the seedling trunk doesn't rot under the soil. Pack the soil lightly around the pit.

15. Keep the tree watered~Water your plant daily or enough to keep the soil moist. Avoid over watering to the point the soil becomes muddy. If the leaves turn brown at the tips, the tree needs more water, while if the leaves turn yellow the tree is getting too much water and needs to be permitted to dry out for a day or two.

16. Maintain your Avocado Tree~ Continue to tend to your avocado tree regularly and in a few years you will have an attractive and low-maintenance tree. Your family and friends will be impressed to know that form an avocado pit, salvaged from your guacamole recipe, you have cultivated and have grown your own avocado tree.

Healthy Note: Research links green tea with positive health benefits, such as reducing certain types of cancer, lowering cholesterol and improving the immune system~

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