Green thumb: How to grow avocados
Avocados are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, fibre and healthy monounsaturated fats, so they’re a powerhouse of nutritional goodness. If you’re keen on creating home grown avocado guacamole, salsa and salads, then consider including avocado trees in your garden.
Avocados are mainly grown in warm areas of the North Island, however they can also be grown in a warm frost-protected spot in slightly cooler areas.
Here are a few important tips when it comes to growing avocados at home:
■ Avocados need moist but welldrained soil. Poorly drained soil can quickly lead to root rot and plant death.
■ Choose a sunny, sheltered site that is protected from frost and wind.
■ Avocado flowers contain both male and female organs which open twice over 2 days. When the flower first opens it’s female, when it reopens on the second day, it’s male. The timing of this flowering classifies avocados into either A or B types.
■ Although there can be some selfpollination in warm areas, planting 2 different varieties (from an A and B type) will help improve pollination and fruit set.
■ ‘A’ varieties that are great for growing in medium-sized backyards include Haas and Reed. ‘B’ varieties include Bacon and Fuerte. Grafted plants will fruit earlier than seedling trees.
■ Avocados will not ripen on the tree. Pop a too-firm avocado in a paper bag with a banana for a few days to help it soften.
Avocados perform best when planted into soil that’s been enriched first with a concentrated source of organic matter like Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food. Yates Dynamic Lifter will help improve the quality of the soil, encourage earthworms and beneficial soil microorganisms and provide the tree with gentle nutrients as it establishes.
Reapplying Yates Dynamic Lifter every six weeks from spring to autumn will help ensure the trees have enough nutrients to promote healthy foliage and a great harvest.
Mulching around the root zone with an organic mulch, such as bark chips, will help reduce moisture loss and add further organic matter to the soil as it breaks down.
Protecting feijoas from insects and disease
Deliciously sweet and fragrant feijoas can be susceptible to a few insect pests and diseases during spring: Scale: Sap sucking insects that appear as small grey, brown, pink or black coloured bumps along stems and leaves which deplete plants of sugars and nutrients and can cause patches of leaf yellowing. Mealy bug: Small white fuzzy sap sucking insects that feed on plant juices. Caterpillars: Chewing insects that can eat through leaves and also curl leaves up with webbing (leaf roller caterpillars).
Sooty mould: A fungal disease that appears like a dark grey or black ash-like film that covers stems and leaves. It grows on the sweet honeydew excreted by sucking insects like scale and mealybug. Control these insect pests and the sooty mould will disappear. Both sap sucking insects and caterpillars can be controlled by spraying feijoas each week with Yates Natures Way Organic Citrus, Vegie Ornamental Spray Ready to Use.