The avocado (Persea americana) is a tree native to Mexico and Central America, classified in the flowering plant family Lauraceae along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel. Avocado or alligator pear also refers to the fruit, botanically a large berry that contains a single seed. Avocados are commercially valuable and are cultivated in tropical and Mediterranean climates throughout the world. They have a green-skinned, fleshy body that may be pear-shaped, egg-shaped, or spherical. Commercially, they ripen after harvesting. Avocado trees are partially self-pollinating and often are propagated through grafting to maintain a predictable quality and quantity of the fruit.
HOW TO GROW
- Obtain a good quality avocado fruit.Cut the fruit flesh away from the seed. It is easiest to cut it the long way around.
- Twist the seed to remove it.Whack it with a knife, then twist, and the seed will come out.
- Find the pointed end of the seed.this is the top of the seed.
- Choose a planting locale.See the above method for plant positioning suggestions. Clear the sod or whatever else is there, in readiness for planting.If possible, plant two trees, as these plants like company.
- Place the flat end down in the soil.Stomp the seed into the ground. Cover with dirt. Water a little, then leave.
- Follow the growing suggestions above.Fertilize after you see the plant above the ground. Do not do so sooner or the root system will fail to form properly. In about 3 to 4 years, expect fruit.
- Harvest fruit when the avocados look big and fat.They will not ripen on the tree. Remove and place inside a brown bag to ripen. They’re ready to eat when soft.
- Avocado plant care includes plant support and feeding. Use a stake to keep the plants main stem sturdy and straight as it grows. Also, transplant the tree as it outgrows its pot. Prune off any suckers that arise from the rootstock.
- Fertilize with water-soluble food monthly and turn the tree frequently to promote even growth. You can also fertilize with fish emulsion every month for the first year.
- Give the plant moderate water when the soil feels dry to the touch.
Three species of mites prey on avocado trees in California. The avocado brown mite lays eggs on the tree’s leaves, and in large numbers damages and destroys the plant’s foliage. The persea mite also harms avocado tree foliage, leading to fewer fruits, though the six-spotted mite typically only causes leaf discoloration. Predatory mites will keep the population of all three mites under control, as will avoiding the use of chemical pesticides that kill their natural enemies.
Tea Shot Hole Borer
One of the most serious threats to California avocados, the tea shot hole borer comes from South Asia. This small insect doesn’t damage the tree itself, but spreads a deadly fungal disease, fusarium dieback, according to the Los Angeles Times. The tea shot hole borer also travels fast and far, making it a particularly successful spreader of the fungus, which causes bark scarring and kills branches. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease at present.
Tiny thrips are a threat to California avocados. Greenhouse thrips lay eggs on leaves and inside avocados and also feed on the fruits, covering them in blemishes. Avocado thrips also scar the fruit’s peel, making avocados unsuitable for sale. Harvest the fruits early to prevent damage by greenhouse thrips and prune tender foliage in May and June to reduce avocado thrip populations. Insecticides are of limited use and may kill the natural enemies of thrips.
Ants, Snails and Grasshoppers
Many run-of-the-mill garden pests also causes problems for avocados. Grasshoppers feed on avocado tree leaves and are difficult to deal with in large numbers. Fight them by treating surrounding areas with insecticide before they attack. Ants allow other damaging insects to thrive and are best controlled by laying out bait laden with insecticide in the winter. Brown garden snails feed on avocado tree leaves and bark. To control them, remove weeds near the trees and place copper bands around the trees’ trunks.
- Healthy for the heart:Avocados contain 25 milligrams per ounce of a natural plant sterol called beta-sitosterol. Regular consumption of beta-sitosterol and other plant sterols are recommended for their ability to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
- Great for vision: Avocados contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that are essential to eye health. These two carotenoids act as antioxidants in the eye and can minimize the damage and reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.
- Osteoporosis prevention:Vitamin K can improve bone health by increasing calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion .
- Cancer fighter: Low levels of folate have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer in women. Adequate intake of dietary folate (from food, not necessarily supplements) has also shown promise in protecting against colon, stomach, pancreatic and cervical cancers.
- Healthy babies: Folate is also extremely important for pregnant women. Adequate intake protects against miscarriage and neural tube
- Lowered risk of depression:Another benefit of foods with high levels of folate is a lowered risk of depression. Folate helps to prevent an excess of homocysteine forming in the body, which can block blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine can interfere with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood, but sleep and appetite as well.
- Improved digestion:Despite its creamy texture, an avocado is actually high in fiber, with approximately 6-7 grams per half fruit. Eating foods with natural fiber can prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract and lower the risk of colon cancer.
- Natural detoxification: Adequate fiber promotes regularity, which is crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool. Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may also play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation.