Avocados come from the highlands of Central America and Mexico as well of the lowlands of Columbia in South America and are known to have existed from as far back as 291 BC.
The Aztecs referred to this unique greenish coloured fruit ‘AHUACATL’ which eventually evolved into the name we use today.
The fruit was brought to Europe in the 16th century, after the Spanish conquistadors invaded Mexico and Peru with seed first arriving in Australia in 1840.
The Avocado tree is an evergreen tree that can grow up to 40 feet and has many branches.
Flowers are small, greenish, and perfect (has both male and female parts). Pollination is usually done by bees and other insects.
Avocados like a well draining soil, a PH level of 6.2 to 6.5 and a regular dose of fertiliser. It is best for your trees to do this often in small amounts so that the nutrients are readily available all year round.
I use animal manure and compost which acts as a slow release fertiliser making sure it has the nutrients as needed. Spread the fertiliser around the tree out to about 50cm from the canopy, keeping it at least 10cm from the trunk of the tree. I mulch with sugar cane straw which breaks down over time adding to the organic matter in the soil.
Boron is a minor element that requires special mention for avocados. Low levels of boron will severely retard the growth of avocado trees and affect fruit set. Boron is very mobile in the soil, so you need to apply regular light applications to ensure a continuous adequate supply is available to the plant. Sandy soils may need monthly applications. However, it is important to carefully monitor leaf analysis results, since excessive levels of boron are toxic and can severely damage an avocado tree.
I planted my avocado tree about 3 years ago and this week I am eating my first crop.
We only have about 12 fruit in total but it is lovely to be able to eat something that you know has been grown organically.
There are a few marks on the skin of the fruit but this is only cosmetic and hasn’t affected the fruit at all.
Fruits will not ripen on the tree. When ready for harvesting the fruit stem starts to yellow. Break this stem leaving a stub about 2-3 centimetres long. Leave avocados in a fruit bowl in the kitchen until they soften – usually 4-10 days. You can speed up softening by wrapping in aluminium foil or newspaper or placing in a paper bag. Once fully soft avocados are ready to eat, however, you can store them in this softened form in the crisper of the fridge for weeks.
Avocados are a wonderful fruit containing a mass of vital nutrients needed for good health. Avocados are low in sugar, contain fibre, and are salt free. They contain per 100g-11% of the RDI of vitamin A, 11% of Thiamine, 19% of Riboflavin, 21% of niacin, 42% of vitamin C and 13% of magnesium, to name just a few.
Avocados have a reputation of being high in fat; fat content in Avocados is 60% monounsaturated, 20% polyunsaturated and only 20% is saturated. A 100 gram serving of avocados contain approximately 9.8g of the beneficial monounsaturated fat the body needs fats as they are vital for good health.
I use avocado as a spread instead of butter, sliced on a piece of toast with a squeeze of lemon and black pepper is a delicious and nutritious breakfast. Avocado is also fabulous as Guacamole dip which is a simple snack with carrot and celery sticks.
Check out my recipe for guacamole.