BellaOnline Literary Review

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Non Fiction

My Avocado Tree & Me

David Smith

When we moved into the house on Nurmi Street, in Sylmar California, we knew we had an avocado tree. Being from Canada, where it’s too cold for an avocado tree to live; we had no idea what this fruit was. These days they’re much more popular then when I was growing up there.

In Junior High School I can remember having bologna and avocado sandwiches for lunch, but the avocado wasn’t ripe - my mom carved it off of the avocado. Being very hard and tasteless, I didn’t develop a love for them, although I do remember other people liking them. We used to give them away to neighbors.

In high school, I dated a Mexican girl for a couple of years. That was when I got my first taste of a ripe avocado and my first clue of my continuing love for avocados. It still wasn’t love at first bite, though - it was a few more years for it to develop. I used to give her most of them at that time.

Once I started dating and going to Mexican Restaurants a lot, we always ordered guacamole to eat with our chips. This was when the avocados became a part of many of my meals. I really appreciated our avocado tree.

Since then, we’ve enjoyed them every year and look forward to each crop. The amounts always vary and we wondered why. In 1996, I got interested in raising red worms. They eat everything organic, and we put our avocado skins and pits into the worm beds, along with other organic materials. One day, I opened the plywood bins to discover the pits were growing into avocado trees in the worm beds. I transplanted and planted a lot of avocado trees into various sized pots. I began to study them. I learned the worm castings were very high in nitrogen, and the avocado trees as well as all citrus trees need that nitrogen. Starting then, I’ve fertilized our very large avocado tree every year. I also found out that the blossoms need to be sprayed with water - it helps to open them up more for the birds and bees to pollinate. I put a nozzle on the hose so that I can get the water up as high in the tree as possible. I also put most of the castings from my worms on the tree throughout the year as I harvest the worms.

I was told by our neighbor the tree had been planted in 1957. I was born in 1957. I thought that was quite a coincidence. Since 1996, I’ve spent a lot of time taking better care of my tree, watering and fertilizing it. I also made a long fruit-picking pole out of copper pipe and a basket. This has helped me to get the avocados when they’re very high in the tree. I can add a length of pipe as needed.

Our avocados are ready to eat between Thanksgiving and Christmas. They don’t ripen on the tree, but have to be picked, then put in a brown paper bag and into a dark place. It takes them a few days to over a week to soften up. Some people put them in the bag and then into the oven. They can also be left in a bowl and will ripen as well. Either way it takes a few days to a week. If they’re picked early they don’t ripen properly. They have a rubbery feel to them and aren’t edible.

Our annual crop varies. Usually it´s two hundred to three hundred, but we’ve had some years of only getting twenty to thirty and other years of getting five hundred to seven hundred. I’ve eaten five to ten avocados a day many times. I’ve made a lot of friends sharing them with people.

I eat them with a spoon, a little salt, garlic salt, and some lemon juice. Most of the time I make guacamole.

There are also many ways to make guacamole using tomatoes, chili peppers, onions, green onions, cilantro, various herbs, spices, and cheeses. I’ve also made them different ways over the years. It doesn’t seem like there is really a bad way to make guacamole, and it goes with almost everything.

We have a lot of wind at different times in southern California called the Santa Ana’s. They’ll help to blow the avocados off of the tree. But they’ve also ruined some of our crops when they come early and either blow the blossoms off or blow the little avocados off before they can grow to maturity. Usually the avocados are quite large. Sometimes they don’t get as big, but they’re always tasty.

The avocados we have are the Haas type. They have the “alligator”, bumpy skin rather than the smooth skin of other varieties.

An avocado is technically a fruit, and even more specifically a single-seeded berry. It has many health benefits including more potassium than a banana. They’re also high in protein, reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, lower risks of prostate and breast cancer, and have many more healthy reasons to eat them. The antioxidants, amino acids, and essential oils inside an avocado can help repair damaged hair, moisturize dry skin, and treat sunburns.

In many ways my avocado tree has become one of my pets. I feed and water it, clean up under it, trim some of the branches, and yes I even talk to it sometimes. It continues to give me crop after crop of delicious avocados.

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