Growing The Avocado – A Fruitless Task?

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Woman's hands harvesting fresh ripe organic Hass Avocado

How’s your ambition? Up for a nigh-on impossible challenge? Yep, so are we! Along with every trendy young thing we want avocado, ideally now but failing that in the five-to-ten years it’ll take us to grow a tree that’ll bear fruit. And that’s if the tree lasts long enough. But hey, where’s the fun in instant gratification? So steel yourself and ready your stones, for faint heart never won fair, green, knobbly, nutty-tasting, buttery-textured lady. Just think, in a decades’ time you could be slicing, dicing, spreading, smearing, even massaging-in your very own harvest of ‘alligator pears’.

Above: Avocado trees in their natural, semi-tropical milieu

Joking (?) aside, there are great pleasures to be had in the cultivation of avocado trees. It’s not just about the destination. The journey of growing these plants is pretty darn scenic too. Avocado trees boast a quite charmingly glossy, verdant appearance, richly reminiscent of lazy days in semi-arid Pacific climes. In many ways the plant is its own reward.

We got underway with our tree around a year ago using a water germination technique. The stone we used came from a simple grocery-bought Hass fruit, was cleaned up and placed on an avocado sprouter. The sprouter sat atop a jar of water on a windowsill and in no time roots began to develop in suspension. Germination can also be achieved in substrate with a slight scalping of the pointy end of the seed. It is trickier (and less fun) to monitor progress with substrate though.

Above: Avocados can be germinated using a commercially available sprouter that sits atop a glass of water or inserted with toothpicks and suspended thus

Soon enough our nascent plant was ready to be potted up and spent a jolly old time developing in a conservatory. Once established to the tune of around a foot in height the tree went into an XL module in the Grow Room at AutoPot HQ. So far so good, but whilst relatively simple to start, the trees can prove trickier in the period thereafter.

Principal issues with avocado trees are their sensitivity to temperate conditions, the space required to grow examples that fruit, and their demands in terms of humidity. Most of these can be solved with a sizeable indoor growing space although even our Grow Room looks set to be tested given that plants can grow to several metres in height before they’re ready to flower. It’s unlikely that ours will venture outdoors again but it is just about possible to place an avocado in a warm, sheltered, semi-shaded spot during summer months.

Above: Given the right climatic conditions and a responsive watering regime could our plant defy expectations and accelerate fruiting?

One thing to definitely be aware of with avocados are inexplicable and fatal declines in plant health, which are not at all uncommon. Trees sometimes simply run their course early. In order to minimise the chances of this happening all you can really do is tend to the plant’s needs and hope yours is a winner. Correctly watering the plants is a huge step in the right direction here.

Watering can be demanding with avocados and especially tricky to get right when conditions or seasons change. In this respect at least we’re getting all the help we need from the XL module. The AQUAvalve within the XL module feeds responsively and entirely on-demand, ensuring the tree is never over or underwatered. The valve opens to allow water and nutrient solution into the module tray to a 20 mm depth and then closes. Once the plants have exhausted that supply the AQUAvalve reopens to repeat the cycle. As it does this without any electricity or running water you can leave the system running indefinitely without fear of mishap and at minimal cost.

Above: Our avocado tree currently resides in a 1Pot XL module,
fed and watered on-demand according to the plant’s needs

We’ve got our plant nicely tucked up in a Biobizz Light Mix substrate, the perfect blend of aeration and water rendition given that avocados like their earth not too wet nor entirely dry. ‘Avi’, as we’ve just this second named the plant, is feeding away contentedly on a mineral nutrient solution supplied via the reservoir and pipework of the XL system.

We would say ‘look forward to Avi’s progress…’ but I think we all know that’ll be a somewhat stately affair. Nevertheless we are excited to see how the XL system might hasten development and if our grow room can spring an accelerated avocado upon the world, now wouldn’t that be something?!

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