It’s January in Philly. An extra-cold January, to boot. What’s a gardener to do?
Ideally, she would get to work all those non-gardening tasks that are neatly listed before her. But nooooo, avocado pits prove themselves to be far more fascinating than writing a presentation on green technical communication. Don’t ask.
Apparently, it’s fairly easy to grow your own avocado tree.
1) Roast a chicken. Use the leftover chicken to make a cobb salad. Save the avocado pits.
2) Rinse the pits under cool water.
3) Shove three toothpicks or bamboo skewers into the midsection of the pit. (You’ll want to get them about a 1/2 inch or so into the pit. Exercise caution so as not to find yourself with skewers lodged in your palm.)
4) This will allow you to suspend the pit in a glass of water. The flat side of the pit should be in the water and the pointy side should be facing straight up.
5) Keep the water level in the glass high enough to cover the bottom part of the pit. You’ll have to check in twice a week or so. Place the glass in a sunny windowsill. In three to six weeks the top of the pit will crack and a sprout will appear, as if by magic. Roots will begin to grow from the base of the pit. (Perhaps a clear glass would have been a better choice.)
6) You’ll need to train the tree to encourage root growth and shrub-like growth, rather than tree-like growth. So, when your sprout is five or six inches tall, pinch off the top set of leaves. A new set of leaves should sprout in a couple of weeks.
7) After the new set of leaves have grown, you should have a decent set of roots on your avocado. Plant your pitlings in a large pot 10-12″. Place the pitlings in the soil — you’ll want to have the upper half of the pit above the soil line. Add a little more soil if necessary, pressing down to remove major air pockets.
8 Water slowly, gently and generously. Keep the soil moist.
9) Evidently, these suckers can grow up to 20-40′, so it’s important to pinch leaves off regularly to encourage a bushy plant. So, every six inches or so, lop off the newest sets of leaves. It’s a good idea to plant more than one pitling to encourage pollination.
10) Will you ever harvest an avocado? Maybe…after three or four years or so. In the meantime, though, it makes for excellent procrastination material and will, one hopes, replace the anemic bamboo growing in the office sill.