The Great Avocado Experiment (Part 1)

On my relatively short list of interests, you are unlikely to find anything relating to a green thumb.  In my life as a bachelor consultant nurturing greenery was just not on my radar.  Meeting my wife has introduced me to the world of gardening.  Even with my new found respect for this hobby, I am not an avid participant.  But once I discovered that you could easily sprout an actual avocado tree from the pit that I so often discard I decided that I would try to do this myself.  Learn more after the break.

I won’t go into all the details of how to accomplish this feat.  A quick web search will return more than enough results to get you moving.  But the general process is as follows:

  1. Open and enjoy a delicious avocado that you procured from your favorite market being careful not to tear up the seed.
  2. Gently wash off the seed with some cool tap water.  You don’t want anything gross to start growing.
  3. Take three or four toothpicks — just run of the mill will work — and jam themMy avocado sprout into the side of the seed at a slight downward angle even spaced along its center.
    (Keep in mind that you do want the avocado to be top-side-up.  In some articles, I read the “pointy” side should be up but my seeds are curiously round.  You may also find a small, ligher-colored patch on the bottom of the seed.)
  4. place the thing in a small bowl and fill it with water to the point where the lower half of the seed is submerged.  In my example above, the toothpicks are at about the “equator” of the seed.
  5. Replace the water every few days.

Avocado seed splitting.After about a week, you will start to see the seed split open.  This is good.  Keep going.

Over the next week or so, you will notice a root beginning to poke out the bottom.  This is good.  Keep going.

Eventually, you will also see the seed sprout out the top.  (Not pictured.  Haven’t gotten that far yet.)  Once the sprout is about 6 to 8 inches tall, transfer it to a larger pot with some potting soil and keep it watered.

Unfortunately, avocado trees thrive in warm climates but are easily damaged and likely killed by freezing temperatures.  Living in Atlanta, I see both of these extremes.  But I have heard that you can keep the trees in pots so you can keep them outside to enjoy the summer, but move them indoors during the winter months.  Some clever “pinching” of the buds on the top of the plant at the right time of year will keep them at a manageable size.  I have also heard that this is a sizeable investment of time.  It can be years before your home-grown avocado plant bears fruit.  Also note that not all avocado seeds will successfully sprout, so maybe try a couple.

One last photo:  Root DownYou can barely see the root starting to peek outside the seed.  This is after about 2 weeks.

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