This is a picture of me with my dad standing in his garden. Sorry, that you can’t see the garden, but you can see my dad which is my favorite part of this story anyway.
My dad truly had a green thumb. He could grow anything! When I was a kid, I would bring him a branch off some bush I found in my explorations around the neighborhood and the next thing I’d knew that very same bush would be growing in our yard! I never saw him wandering around the gardening department of Home Depot, and he certainly didn’t Google how not to kill his houseplants. He knew how to get the seeds from the flowers he already had and make new flowers for next season. It was like he understood some secret gardening language the rest of us don’t know.
One of my favorite childhood memories is of people slowing down when they drove by our house just to take a look at all the flowers. Plants and flowers grew out of every nook and cranny from flower boxes to trellises (both of which he also built). It was really something to see!
I hoped to inherit this talent, but so far it has escaped me. I like to think of it as something I need to cultivate rather than inherit. Therefore, I have continually tried to grow my green thumb. In 15 years, I do not have a single surviving plant to show for my efforts. Mind you, there are still plants growing at my childhood home some 15- 20 years after my father planted them.
Despite my glowing track record, I keep plugging away. My latest project is growing a Florida avocado tree from a seed. After all, this is Florida, so I figure that is one step in the right direction! My goals were modest. I started this project with my children. I wanted them to see how a plant grows, just the basics: plants come from seeds; the roots go down; the plant comes up; plants need water and sunlight. You can start avocado plants in a glass of water, so if this worked they would have a very visual display of the growth.
Truth be told, when we started, I had visions of the plant making it into a pot, then into the ground and one day many, many years from now making guacamole for my grandkids. What can I say, I’m a dreamer!
Here’s our little seed. He’s quite a cutie, but he brought with him a lot of advice. Who knew I had so many friends with avocado trees? Pretty much from day one everyone thought I was making a mistake growing my tree from a seed. Apparently avocado trees take from 7-15 years to produce fruit, and the fruit from a tree that began as a seed is never quite the same as the parent tree. I’m sure everyone’s advice is correct, but stubborn as I am I’ve chosen not to listen.
First of all, I find it flattering that my dear friends think this plant will live long enough to bear fruit. That is a long shot at best. Moreover, the entire goal of this project was for my children to see a plant grow from a seed, and to have grown the plant themselves. If this ends up ever being a 15 foot tree in our yard, I want them to know they grew it with their own hands even if it the fruit doesn’t taste quite right, and they won’t get to taste it until they have children of their own.
So we lovingly cared for our little seed in a glass, and what do you know, it grew! Mission accomplished! The kids and I got to watch the seed crack open, the roots grow down, and the tall stem and beautiful red and green leaves grow up. Here’s the biggest surprise of them all, today we planted it in a pot and placed it outside!
From what I’ve read, avocados grow best in the shade of a parent plant because they have sensitive stems. We don’t have a parent plant so this palm tree will have to do. It is a Floridian after all so it should be perfectly content resting under the shade of a palm tree. Wish our little plant luck – it is not in the best of hands, but we are going to try our best. Our pug even offered to stand guard.
Who knows, there may be a speck of green on this thumb after all.