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avocado treeI love avocados. So yummy, so very very yummy.So what better way to combine my love of avocados, their left over pits and my need for greenery than to grow an avocado tree or two?

This is an easy project but I should make it clear from the outset that avocado plants grown from pits rarely produce their own fruit unless grafted and if they do it won’t be for at least 5 or 6 years. That said they are lovely little trees and look lovely in the garden or as an indoor plant.

For this project use a pit from an avocado that is soft when you squeeze it – ripe in other words. Cut the fruit in half lengthwise and gently remove the pit. Do something yummy with the avo (I love avocado on toast with lots of cracked pepper and sprinkled salt, also very yummy and creamy with pasta) and wash the pit to remove any pulp and let it dry. Now I’ve always followed the toothpick method (method 1 below) for growing avocados but it can be a bit hit and miss – the pits not always germinating – so this time I’m trying two other popular methods as well. I would recommend doing this project with more than one pit just in case one doesn’t grow.

method 1 – the toothpick method

DSC_0339A method I did in science at primary school, requires toothpicks/cocktail sticks and a glass/jar. For propagation purposes, the broad end of the pit is considered to be the bottom. The pointed end is the top. Insert several toothpicks into the sides of the pit. They should be placed about halfway up the pit. Then suspend the pit in a glass of water. The bottom 1/4 to a 1/3 of the pit should rest in water. During this time add water to maintain the initial water level. Occasionally dump out the water and replace with fresh water. Place on a windowsill in good light. However, do not leave in direct sunlight for long periods. In about two to three weeks, the pit will start to crack. In another three to four weeks, a single root will appear at the submerged end of the pit. In the next one to three weeks a stem will start growing. When the root is two or three inches long and the stem is at least an inch or two you will be ready to plant. If it doesn’t sprout within 2 to 3 months, discard the original avocado pit and begin another.

Method 2 – paper towel

DSC_0340 DSC_0341Using a sharp knife cut a thin slice off the top and bottom of the clean pit (this speeds up the germination). Wrap in very damp paper towel and place in a  covered dish/container. Put the dish in a dark place for 2-4 weeks. Check on it now and then to see if anything is happening. The taproot is generally the first growth to emerge from the pit. Once the root is around 3 inches long plant your avocado.

Method 3 – potting soil

Carefully peel off the brown seed coat of a fresh avocado pit and plant the seed in a 6-inch container with a drainage hole filled with a rich, well draining potting soil. Leave about 1/4 of the top of the seed protruding from the soil. Keep the soil moist but not soggy – don’t let soil dry out. I’m warned it can take a month or longer for the avocado sprout to emerge using this method.

Potting your avocado – for methods 2 and 3

Pot the pit seedling when the root system has become well developed – the roots should be at least 2-3 inches long. Plant the white taproot in dirt leaving the top sprout and 1/3 of the upper pit exposed. Position the pit in the center of the pot. A 6 inch plastic or clay pot with good drainage is best and putting some gravel in the bottom to aid drainage is also advisable. Pack the dirt well around the pit/seedling and keep the soil fairly wet for the first week. After that water approximately every 3 days (depending on your climate/how dry the air in your house is).

So there you go! I’ve just started a pit in each of these methods (any future avocados I eat over the next few weeks will probably have their pits added to the windowsill) so we’ll see what happens in a few weeks! I’ll post any progress pics as updates to this post and I’d love to hear any tips and/or how your avocado growing goes.