There is nothing more rewarding than growing plants, only to be able to eat them, too! Growing your own requires more time and dedication than you give to your houseplants and you will need to call the plant babysitter if you’re planning a holiday, but these guys can be pretty unfussy once you get them going. You can even grow lots of things from leftovers! Growing your own is an easy and inexpensive way to live. And live well.
First, let’s talk about the avocado. Yes, it goes with everything. Yes, it looks great on Instagram, but have you read about the deforestation the demand is causing? Now, I’m not saying you should stop eating them (breakfast would never be the same!) but maybe this is your chance to do some good and grow your own. OK, it may take 10 years for an actual fruit to grow, but it’s a start!
How to grow your own avocado plant
Lot of people say you can’t grow avocados in the UK, but to them we say guac off! The three sitting in my kitchen window aren’t complaining. Going back to the roots, these guys usually flourish in the sunshine states of the Americas, so give your plant as much light as possible by placing your jar on a sunny windowsill. Growing your own avocado is so easy to do and a great thing to show off to your friends. As I said, it may take up to 10 years for it to seed fruit, but what’s the rush? Now, pass the nachos.
A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE
1. Eat a delicious breakfast (poached eggs on avocado toast, if you’re asking).
2. Save the avocado seed and clean off the leftover green mush.
3. Work out which is the top (sprout) and bottom (root). As a rule, the bottom is flat.
4. Spear the stone with cocktail sticks to create outstretched arms and legs.
5. Suspend the stone over a glass of water with the bottom half submerged.
6. Place your jar on sunny windowsill.
7. Change the water once a week to keep it clean.
9. Wait a bit more.
10. Crack! The stone splits. The roots will start to grow in the water and a stem will reach for light.
11. When the stem has reached around 15cm, pot it into soil.
12. Look after your avocado plant baby and let the 10-year countdown commence!
How not to kill your avocado tree
Avocados need to be kept moist but not soaked, so make sure it has good drainage. If all else fails, do the finger test (see page 202).
You’ll know if you are over watering as the leaves will start to wilt and turn yellow. Feed once a month in the summer but keep an eye out for white crust on the soil – this generally means a build-up of salt from the fertiliser. If you spot it, flush the pot out by rinsing it thoroughly, let it drain and then repeat. Every spring, repot it into a larger pot to help it grow strong and healthy. For the first few years, give it a haircut to create a big bushy plant but the first serious trimming should happen only when the plant is around 30cm tall: cut it back to 15cm to allow for new leaves and stems to grow.
Photography by Oskar Proctor