I am at the moment in the tricky situation of raising an avocado stone to become a plant.
You must know the green fruit that gets soft and mushy if you keep it too long. It is impossible to cut and peel without obtaining green sticky stains on your fingers. On the other hand if the avocado is unripe it is also bitter and not suitable to eat. If you want to buy an avocado, the you must examine them carefully in the shop, press them, smell them and study the colour. At least that is what the trained avocado eater does. I am not a trained avocado eater and to be quite honest I only buy one now and again for its stone, hoping one day to have my own plantation of avocado trees in the garden. Of couse I actually do something with the avocado to eat it. We have discovered that chopping it in pieces and mixing it with a salad dressing goes quite well with smoked salmon.
When I have bought my avocado the first problem is to remove the skin. Of course this is not a problem for the trained few. Just make a dividing cut to form two pieces and twist the avocado. It should then be in two clean pieces in your hand and the stone is cleanly removed from one half. The stone could refuse this movement and remain fixed, not ready to leave the fruit. However I find with some increased effort, spiced with a few helping profanities the stone gives up and surrenders.
You now have a stone with a few green remnants on its skin. This is no problem, just wash the stone under running water, but be careful it does not slip out of your hands. The stone may be somewhat slimy. Now you have your stone ready to plant, although patience is required. I usually place it in an egg cup of suitable size, supply water and forget it for a week, or two, perhaps even three. An avocado tree is not grown in a day.
You can now see the perfect example of my avocado with its first roots growing. A crack has appeared to make it easier for the root to grow and for the beginnings of growing life.
If you happen to drop your growing avocado it will break in the middle, which is quite useful for showing how life in the stone is developing. This photo is from an earlier attempt, which was eventually unsuccessful, but all beginnings are difficult. As you can see not only has a root appeared, but a few green stalks. Had this stone survived it would today be a tree bearing many fruits, perhaps. I asked my gardener his opnion. I ignored the smile on his face as he told me that an avocado had small chances of surviving in a country where snow and ice were the normal conditions in Winter, but if it remained inside for a few years I could risk putting it in the garden, wrapped in a winter coat made of some sort of insulating plastic. He was still smiling when he had finished the conversation. I think he did not take me seriously enough.
I now have one stone that is still thinking about making a root, a stone that alreay has a root and also – now wait for it – my growing avocado tree.
I know it does not look like very much, but all great things have small beginnings. I read somewhere that when it reached 6″ of growth I should cut it back to encourage more leaves and branches. At the moment I am being patient. I am worried that if I now remove the growth, it will give up and not re-incarnate itself.
As you can see it has formed its first leaves. Growing an avocado is a tricky business, but where there is life there is hope. I have now decided to plant my new stone with the roots, as in the first photo, in the garden. We now have spring weather and I am sure it will encourage its growth.
Of course I am not a beginner with this work. If only it was not such a tricky business. I have an apple tree in my garden, grown from an apple pip. Luckily my children did not follow in the steps of George Washington carrying a hatchett cutting it down. My apple tree is now 8 years old and is very big. We have to cut it back once a year. Ufortunately it has never carried an apple, but I have not given up hope.
Yes planting trees is a tricky business.