If you are part of my garden nerd circle you know that Gayla Trail is one of my urban-agriculture heroes. That woman can grow magnificent flora in the smallest of spaces. Her first book You Grow Girl was one of the first books I bought when I embarked in this veggie growing journey (plus Grow Food Not Lawns by Heather C. Flores). Last week Gayla unveiled the Grow Write Guild a brilliant idea that I am excited to be participating in. Every couple of weeks Gayla posts writing cues and invites her readers to write and share a story around those cues. The first cue is My First Plant.
The first recollection that I have of something that resembles planting is putting alfalfa seeds and dried chickpeas in moist cotton swaps. My sister and I would be ecstatic when the first leaves appeared and we repeated this experience several times during our childhood. I do not recall our spirits once the seedlings died – oh, the fortunate short attention span of those early years!
Mixed feelings arise because, although not my First Plant, I would like to share my pièce de résistance in this planting universe: my avocado plant. Inspired by a beautiful avocado plant at a friend’s house, a few of my friends and I decided, 4 years ago, to do an exotic plant growing competition. The avocado was our first target. Would we be able to grow a healthy plant from a grocery store avocado? I read a few tips online before embarking in this adventure. I picked 2 avocados, removed, cleaned, and pierced the pit with 4 toothpicks, placed it half submerged in a glass with water, and let time do its magic.
In hot and sunny places a full plant maybe appears in than less than a year but in grey and chilly St. John’s growing an avocado plant was a painfully long affair. It took months until the pits cracked and a small taproot appeared. By then, one of the pits grew moldy, black and was added to our compost. Most of my friends saw their pits meet the same fate. Another 2 or 3 months and a stalk emerged. It took over a year until the plant was finally put in soil and last week she was re-potted for the first time (although this was long overdue).
This plant and her ability to persevere in such unlikely conditions give us great pleasure. Chris has taken her to his students and I have included her at a FEASt Fest presentation entitled Gardening Adventures in 2010. We might never have fresh avocados – after all we are in Newfoundland and Labrador and it was a grocery store avocado – but she’s still a helpful addition to the household! When her leaves start to droop, she’s telling us that the houseplants need to be watered. This is indeed a very important purpose.