Avocados are more than a trendy topping for your toast. They’re delicious, luscious, creamy and just as good– good for you! Not only that, growing avocado trees is good for your health too! Today we’re discussing why you should add avocados to your plate and garden as well as a few easy hacks to get started growing avocados.
Types of Avocados
Not all avocados are created equal, though most do fall into two categories: haas and skinny. 95% of avocados in America are haas avocados and that’s also what I grow on my farm. The other 5% are–you guessed it!–skinny avocados. Haas avocados are rich and thicker while skinny avocados are sweeter and watery. The watery texture of skinny avocados makes them perfect for salads while haas avocados are better for dips and other dishes where you want avocados to have a thicker consistency.
When judging an avocado’s ripeness, you can’t judge by the color, especially for haas avocados. Haas avocados will get darker and browner in color over time but this doesn’t indicate how ripe they are. A quick squeeze test is a better way to judge if it’s expired. If you squeeze an avocado and it feels like a tomato, it’s past its prime. If it yields slightly to pressure and is easy to pluck off the stem, it’s ready to be eaten.
Avocados on Your Plate
Avocados are considered a superfood, and for a good reason! One avocado has over 20 phytonutrients, minerals, and vitamins. This includes potassium and fiber, which are two nutrients many Americans don’t get enough of. Perhaps what avocados are best known for is being a healthy source of fat. An avocado contains cholesterol-free fat and is especially good for heart health. In fact, they may be one of the few sources of “good” fat in your grocery store.
Similar to carrots, avocados are great for your eyes. They contain carotenoids which are linked to better eye health as you age. They are also high in Vitamin E and Vitamin C making them great for your immune health, protection of your skin against harmful environmental agents that break it down, and the healthy growth of your tissue.
Because they are creamy, they make an excellent alternative to more unhealthy cooking ingredients like butter. They are versatile, meaning they’ll work in a variety of dishes. However, just because you can have avocados for breakfast, lunch, and dinner doesn’t mean you should. Even superfoods should be eaten in moderation.
Avocados in Your Garden
If you walk through a forest with avocado trees, you most likely will be able to point them out, thanks to their luscious, gorgeous fruit and canopy-shaped trees. In fact, they are great trees to have if you want to practice forest bathing, the Japanese art which has been proven to lower stress and improve immunity.
Since they also have antibacterial and antifungal properties, they may provide much needed nutrients, even to those who only stand underneath an avocado tree. Their leaves also contain persin, a chemotherapeutic ingredient that helps chemotherapy defeat breast cancer. However, their leaves are also toxic to many animals and should be kept away from dogs, cats, and horses.
While there are obvious benefits to eating and growing avocado trees, there is one conundrum many gardeners face: how to care for the tree and make sure they produce thriving fruit. When looking at avocado trees, treat each one as an individual patient. Each tree will have different requirements to prosper.
Unlike other crops, avocados don’t do well in a more commercial agriculture setting. For that reason, they’re often grown on organic farms. If you’re interested in growing avocado trees, you might first want to make sure your garden is organic. Luckily, I have a free quiz you can take to discover how organic your garden is. Once you take it, I’ll also provide resources on how to make your garden more organic.
Easy Hacks to Grow More Avocados
Even if avocado trees should be treated as individuals, there are some general guidelines to follow when planting avocados:
- Irrigate high-quality water to their root zone at least weekly.
- They tend to do best when warmed by direct or filtered rays of sunlight.
- Plant them in clay soil or sand.
- Ensure there are beneficial insects, such as predatory mites and lacewings, nearby to protect the avocado trees.
It is important to note that while avocados do well in warmer climates, they are not drought-resistant. If you live somewhere prone to droughts, like California, you’ll need a plan in place to irrigate water to avocado trees during less rainy seasons.
Avocados also have lower odds of fruiting than other trees. In fact, alternate bearing years are common because avocados are gender fluid. Some years their type A flowers open, which will produce avocados, and other years their type B flowers open, which don’t produce fruit. If you want to increase fruiting overall, consider getting a beehive. More bees around often means more avocados!
If you don’t have room for avocado trees, you can check out avocado containers. Dwarf avocado varieties, such as Mexicola, Day, or Wurtz, do especially well in smaller containers.
If you’re looking to fight stress, improve your immune system and heart health, and protect yourself against free radicals that age you, avocados might be worth considering. While they offer tons of benefits on your plate, they provide even more when you grow them yourself. If you can’t grow them, consider walking in a nearby park that has avocado trees.