Our first avocado!

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I’m so exited we have our first avocado growing on one of our trees! About three years ago I planted two avocados, a Hass and a Bacon variety under the Stringybark gums at the edge of our forest. Here the gum trees protect them from frost while still allowing enough sunlight to get in. With the help of a mulch layer of goat manure and spent hay and an occasional bucket of water they have grown from small tube stock to about 1.4m tall. Although they had lots of flowers last Spring followed by small fruit, only one fruit on the Hass is maturing and we can’t wait to eat it later this year. I hope we’ll have some more fruit next year!

Although sometimes thought of as only growing in warm climates, avocados can be grown in most capital cities of Australia, with the exception of Canberra and Hobart (let me know if you have managed to grow avocados in these cities). To thrive avocados need a sunny, frost free spot with slightly acidic and free draining soil. If you protect young trees from frost in the first few years of growing, they will cope with some frost as they mature and are bit taller. Mulch the trees well with organic matter and feed them with your homemade compost, manure or organic fertiliser pellets.

Avocados can reach 10m tall and 8m wide, so they need a bit of space. To contain them and make harvesting easier, regular pruning can keep them to around 3m. There are A and B cultivars and both types can be self pollinating in Melbourne’s variable spring weather (fluctuating temperatures ensures both male and female flowers on the tree at the same time). If you have constant temperatures above 20ºC in the day and 10ºC at night you will need to plant both an A and B type to get good pollination. My Hass avocado is type A and can be harvested from September to January and my Bacon avocado is type B and can be harvested from June to July. Fruit ripens only once it is harvested and this can take 7-10 days.

Avocados are a naturally nutrient-dense food that is high in fibre and healthy monounsaturated fats as well as being rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. There are many great ways to enjoy eating them so why not give them a try in your garden.

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