Growing your own avocado supply - II

If high supermarket prices have kept you from consuming avocado, worry not. Zahra Ali can guide you to self-sufficiency!

Growing your own avocado supply - II
I planted my first Reed and Hass avocados from seeds some few months back and I can already see the difference between these two varieties.

And even though I am personally new to growing avocados, I have done my research, talked to farmers and listened to many avocado-growers out there. I can already notice how all this learning is proving to be useful. I am writing this piece to share what I have learned so far about two wonderful varieties.

The Reed Avocado

This rich, buttery, round avocado is huge! Reed is rated excellent in terms of its flavour. The seed is large, too, and very easy to grow. The best part about growing this delicious fruit is that you do not have to worry about having another tree to pollinate it.

Although Reed is not as commonly available as Hass here, if you travel you can source some seeds or plants easily. I started mine from a seed soaked in water and then later buried in soil. It took three weeks to see its shoots and another few weeks to see the leaves open. It has been growing very fast, while the Hass plant is still half in size, by comparison.

Before you start your avocado trees at home or on a farm, it is important to know how big your chosen variety will grow and when it will begin to fruit.
You can expect to harvest avocados throughout the year with the Hass variety - if the growing conditions remain favourable

Reed avocado trees grow as tall as 37 feet. You can prune back to 8-10 feet to keep them manageable. They are heavy producers of round-shaped, large fruits that have a medium-sized seed and taste really good. The skin is thick and textured. And the tree self-pollinates. Reed is a type ‘A’ tree which means its flowers are male in morning and female in the afternoon. You do not need to include any other tree to pollinate it.

The tree needs watering to establish itself. A mature tree will need 2 inches of water weekly. Reed is also tolerant of different soils that drain well.

It takes 1-3 years for Reed to begin fruiting. It takes almost a year for fruits to mature on the tree. They will not ripe on the tree. The skin remains green when ripe and it takes some practice to learn when the fruits are ripe. Harvest only what you need to eat in next day or two.

Reed trees are also salt tolerant and like temperatures above 17 degrees Celsius which makes them ideal for growing in warmer cities as well. They grow well in pots.

Reed avocado tree

Hass Avocado

Hass avocado is the most commonly grown avocado in the world. Fruits are high in healthy oils and have rich, nutty flesh. The texture is smooth while the skin is quite thick. The tree likes to spread and grows to a medium height. This makes the harvest easy.

Hass is also a type A avocado that produces an abundance of large fruits. The skin turns dark purplish black when ripened. The fruit will not ripen on the tree. It has a better shelf life and perhaps that is why it is quite popular around the world.

Just like Reed, Hass is also named after the person who discovered it. This popular variety was the result of growing a random seed – whose origin was unknown – by Rudolph Hass, back in 1929. He planted three seeds and once these began to fruit he started selling these for $1 – which, at that time, was quite expensive. Everyone loved the fruit.

Hass trees bear well every other year. One year you can expect high yields and the next low. A Hass tree doesn’t tolerate cold so well and that can also affect its yields. Trees like good drainage and lots of sunlight. They also like a gentle sea breeze that help pollinate. You can expect to harvest avocados throughout the year with this variety – if the growing conditions remain favourable.

Hass avocados

How to succeed at planting Avocado

You must bear the following points in mind:

  1. Avocados like a pH of 5 to 7, so as to be able to absorb nutrients.

  2. They grow well in warm climates and do not tolerate the cold well.

  3. Feed naturally sourced nitrogen fertiliser in late winter and early summer.

  4. Prune only if you need to maintain height. Avocados do not like to be pruned heavily.

  5. Watch out for temperatures when the tree is flowering. A drop or rise in temperatures may result in failure.

  6. If you are growing it for the first time, try growing different varieties.

  7. For large-scale farmers, it is best to source grafted plants to ensure fruiting and also to get the specific fruit that you are aiming to sell.

Well, my seedlings have shown some tremendous progress. Reed is already proving to be the large leaved, fast growing and tall tree. It is almost 2 feet tall in just 2 months. On the other hand, Hass has produced two stems from a single tree, which proves its spreading habit, I guess. The stem is purplish, unlike the green single stem of Reed, with smaller leaves.

Both of my young plants are still in small pots in partial sun. Now that the temperature is dropping during the day, I will move these pots into full sun gradually. The soil mix of peat moss, organic compost and sand seems to be working well for these plants. By spring, I plan to shift them to bigger pots.

While there are some growers and researchers out there who say that these might take forever to fruit, I am hopeful. I am already in love with the shiny bold leaves – they do fill my heart with positivity! Do try to grow an avocado from a seed: just for the sake of witnessing the magical moment of the seed splitting open to let the sprouts spring up towards the sky.

I am sure you will decide to give this seed a chance to prove itself, just like Rudolph Hass did and just like I am doing!

Zahra Ali is a sustainability educator, writer and environmentalist. She blogs at Send in questions about gardening to