An Avocado for My Toast

Have you tried it yet? No, not the famed avocado toast (its good, we know). Have you tried stabbing an avocado pit with toothpicks, setting it in a small glass jar, half-filled with water, and waiting impatiently for a sprout? You know I have, and I’ve had quite a bit of success! Sadly, I’m still buying avocados from the store. Here’s why.

Last year I saved three avocado pits (is that the technical name? Anyway, you know what I’m talking about) and set them each, facing upwards, in small glass jars filled halfway with tap water. A couple of toothpicks are necessary but those are easily found. I then set the jars (recycled baby food jars work perfectly) on a dark shelf of a bookcase in my dining room. The large bookcase sits on the same wall as the French doors that lead to my patio, so all light enters the room from behind the bookcase. I then left the pits alone for about….three to four months (it took a very long time). The water would need changing about every week, but other than that I didn’t pay them much mind.

Anyone who has researched growing avocados from seed probably knows that an avocado bears fruit only after the avocado tree is mature enough to do so. I was prepared for the long haul and when I finally saw a taproot cracking through the seed to reach for the water, I was elated. Everyone in my family knew of the taproot’s progress and I soon had three taproots, growing at various rates (two shot out, the first was extremely reluctant to begin). I was extremely protective over them. Little green stems creapt out from the tops of the seeds. “Put it outside,” my husband, equally excited, would tell me.

“Not yet,” I would respond. “It needs to have some leaves first.”

Well, two of them started to grow a leaf. I still wouldn’t put them outside.

“When there are two leaves,” I said.

Finally, my plants had two leaves and I carefully planted them in their pots. The third plant soon ventured outside and all was well. Until my son, Sergio, became extremely interested in the spindly, would-be avocado trees.

The surviving avocado plant.

I have always allowed Sergio to water the plants and flowers. For me, it is a test in patience. For Sergio, a delightful experiment in one of Earth’s greatest elements (and he has learned a lot from this play but that’s another discussion). Well, there we were, gardening as a family. Sergio controlled the hose while I tended to other chores (probably composting). Papá was watching but apparently, not close enough. My three avocados were grouped together in their individual pots, a cluster in one corner of my raised garden beds.

Now, I had nurtured these seeds (pits) for about….SIX MONTHS. I had defended them from the dogs, from the intrigued toddler, even from curious family members (the most difficult foe at times). In about ten minutes, however, two of the three young trees were wiped out. I mean torn from the dirt, with leaves plucked off, skinny stems broken in half.

Sergio had moved on by the time we had noticed the destruction. I bounded across the yard when my husband called to me and asked what had happened to them.

“What did happen to them?!” I exclaimed. It was obvious what had happened to them but too late for any kind of action. I picked up the two pits and tried to replant them. Neither would go on to live. I moved the only survivor out of the hose’s path and to a more secluded spot of the garden.

Only I watered the avocado from then on. It survived that summer and almost all of the fall. I brought it in, placed it near a window and wrapped a rug around the pot (I guess to keep it warmer?). It was kept in our guest room. Unfortunately, I discovered its demise, once again via my husband’s questioning, some weeks into November. I threw up my hands and vowed to try again one day.

A fresh avocado pit, germinating in a bit of water.

So, I’m back to square one with another avocado seed. Let’s see if this one makes it and in several years from now, I just might have a homegrown avocado for that toast.