How to Grow a Tree for Free!


I never liked avocados as a kid, but like seafood and salad, it’s something for which I developed a taste as I got older. After slicing one up one night, I was about to toss the pit in the trash, when I suddenly flashed back to my wonder years and remembered the kitchen windowsill in the house in which I grew up. There seemed to always be a little juice glass on top of it with an avocado pit resting inside, supported by four toothpicks. It kind of reminded me of a building under construction, supported by scaffolding. Honestly, I don’t ever remember seeing the pit evolve beyond that. However, stirred by that visual memory, I felt compelled to try growing one for myself.


I found a small glass and four toothpicks, then gently speared the pit half way down on four sides so that the toothpicks would rest on the top of the glass. The avocado pit was suspended half in the water and half out. Of course, figuring out which end went in the water and which end remained above it required a phone call to Mom. It’s subtle, but if you look at the pit, you’ll find that one end is rounded more than the other. One end is more pointed, but again, it’s a subtle difference. The wider, more rounded end, goes in the water.


Watching and waiting for a change or growth in your pit is about as exciting as watching grass grow or paint dry. Every morning, I’d eagerly rush to my little pit, hoping for something, anything, to be evident. The only distinguishable difference was the water level. Either the pit was absorbing or the water was simply evaporating into thin air, but everyday the water level seemed to drop. Instinctively, like a waitress in a coffee shop, I topped off the glass each morning with fresh water. I did this for a month with no apparent change taking place. Calendar pages flipped by and after several months, still nothing.


I tried to conjure up a visual manifestation of what the next phase might look like, but nothing came to mind. If my Mother’s avocado pits had ever evolved past the toothpick in the water stage, I surely couldn’t recollect. What made me think I could make something out of nothing? My Mom was the one with the green thumb and the memory of her success was non-existent. The reason I couldn’t imagine what my pit would look like as a tree was because I never saw a tree, at least not in my house.


After about three months had passed, I was close to giving up, but before I dumped my little farming experiment in the trash I called Mom again. “You’ve got to be patient, it takes a long time”. No kidding. So with the tiniest encouragement, I figuredâÂ?¦I’ve come this farâÂ?¦it’s not like it’s a lot of work to maintain, although, on many levels, developing patience, for me, was the toughest job in the world!


Finally, one morning, while making my usual rounds, I noticed that the pit had cracked. Was it just dying a slow death or was something actually happening here? About a week later, something appeared to be emerging from the bottom of the pit. I’ve seen more growth from a raw potato growing in the bottom of my oven and yet the tiny growth spurred me on. As days passed, it became obvious that it was a root and it was, in fact, getting longer. As the root grew, the crack on top expanded until one fine day, a bit of green popped through the top of the pit. I could barely contain myself.


Another call to Mom�should I plant it in soil? Her advice was to wait until it was about an inch high. More waiting, but at this point, the process seemed to pick up speed. Given an inch, I went a mile. I began eating avocados every night, mostly for the pits. Having gone through all my small glasses, I discovered that I could cut the bottom third of a plastic water bottle and use it as a planter. I needed them badly, because I was now up to twenty pits! The pit that I had planted in dirt had begun to sprout up like a teenager. Before long, the stem was six inches high and tiny leaves were forming at the top. Meanwhile, my kitchen windowsill was filled and the counters around the sink were quickly becoming covered with these little sputnik looking vessels.


I was sure that someone before me, besides my Mother, must have tried to grow a tree from a pit. Then one day, my friend took me to her sister’s house. I noticed that she had a miniature fish bowl in her restroom and immediately recognized the all too familiar pit in the bowl. It was really cute, the way she had it growing in water with little aqua fish tank stones on the bottom. It was a vast visual improvement over my plastic water bottles and hers had actually started to grow! The highlight of the day was when I commented on the fact that she had left it in water and it seemed to be thriving without being planted in soil. She assured me that soil wasn’t necessary at that point and to qualify her expertise as a pit grower, she took me outside to show me the twenty- foot tree she had raised the same way.


Back at my place, the mother ship is now about twenty inches tall with six huge leaves forming an umbrella top. I’ve moved it into the living room and it now holds a place of honor on a tabletop. Before long, I suppose I’ll have to transplant it into a larger pot and move it onto my apartment terrace. Three other pits have made it to the “planted in soil” phase and several others have begun sprouting. With all the plants on my terrace, this first avocado plant holds a special place in my heart. It’s now a little tree, and I grew itâÂ?¦for free! Of course, now that I’m addicted to growing avocado pits, I’ll probably have to buy a house!

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