Feeding the Trees

Many people living in California may have an avocado tree in their yard or know someone who does. So when I have mentioned to friends and acquaintances that we have an avocado grove, their eyes light up with curiosity. They often ask how to improve their growth and production. As I understand, sometimes backyard avo trees are stubborn producers. I am no expert on avocado tree management. We have our grove manager, Gary, who is a living encyclopedia on the subject, to help advise us about how to increase production and we generally just nod and tell him to go ahead. But I can report to you all the stuff that Gary does and maybe some things might help your backyard tree.

I’ve talked about water (important for all trees) and phosphorus injections (important for trees infected with root rot) in previous posts. All trees also need food. So Gary supplements with fertilizer twice a year, once in fall and once in spring. In early April, the following fertilizer was applied:

The fertilizer Gary uses.

The fertilizer Gary uses.

  • 8 pounds per tree with 11-7-14+18S+1Zn+Fe, that’s ratios of 11 nitrogen, 7 phosphorus, 14 potassium, 18 sulfur, 1 zinc, and iron.
  • 4 pounds per tree with sulfate of potash (0-0-50).

All fertilizers in our grove were hand broadcast, but some fertilizers can be injected into the irrigation systems.

At the same time, each stumped and mature tree was injected again with nutra-mix P+K phosphorus acid 0-28-25. This is the same as the injections done in the fall (see previous post). So these are done twice a year. Injections are made into alternate limbs and trunks from the previous injection spots in the fall. Recall from the previous post that we are using a “cool” phosphorus acid that requires more holes, but results in less burn. The method is to drill two 7/16″ holes angled 45 degrees down, inject 1 ounce per tree, then refill each hole for a total of 2 ounces per tree. Below are some pictures of new and old injections as examples.

We have 68, 5-month-old stumped Hass trees and 97 tall, mature Hass trees. The same amounts of fertilizer and phosphorus acid injections were applied whether the trees were stumped or fully grown. This is because the root systems on the stumped trees are still as large as if they were full size trees.

These are management practices done for mature trees. We are in the process of planting new trees (in the next week!) to replace the ones we recently removed in the fall. The fertilizer regimen will be much different for those trees. Stay tuned for reports on that. In the meantime, spring was glorious when we recently visited the farm in early May. Enjoy the photo gallery of the splendor below.

Fallbrook Avocado Festival

A couple weeks ago we attended the Fallbrook Avocado Festival. I have to admit it was a bit of a letdown. I was all pumped up to see lots of local merchants, meet local farmers, and discover new and fun avocado-related products, but it required a lot of digging to find the gems amongst the sea of your typical swap meet, ticky-tack booths. That being said, when the gems were found, they sparkled. You could find everything from conventional live trees, fresh avocados, and avocado oils, to the avante garde items like avocado cigars, wind chimes, or bird nests! Below is a montage of photos from the fair involving anything we came across related to avocados.

This fair could really turn into something amazing and wonderful with just a little more effort in planning. I do hope that it improves in future years by getting rid of the non-local, trinket booths and focusing instead on the two most important reasons people want to attend the fair – Fallbrook and Avocados.

Hawaiian Ahi Poke with Avocado

My husband grew up in Hawaii on the Big Island in Kona. We are blessed that his parents still live there and we get to visit occasionally. The best part is we get all the ins and outs of where the locals like to go – the best beaches, the best hikes, the best restaurants. With three kids, going to restaurants is pretty darn impossible. So we tried the Lava Lava Club, which is a restaurant and bar that opens to an array of tables spilling out on the beach. So we could sit and have pupus (Hawaiian for appetizers) and cocktails while the kids played in the sand and water right in front of us. It was perfect.

IMG_5595-001

They served an exquisite Ahi poke with… avocados! Poke is a traditional Hawaiian dish consisting of raw salad served as a pupu. Poke can be made with any raw fish, but usually it’s made with Ahi (yellowfin tuna). I actually had not had poke with avocado before, but of course, it was delish. Below is a recipe adapted from several different ones from local cookbooks. None of them called for avocado, so I added it. The Lava Lava Club served the poke with fresh seaweed salad and sweet potato chips. Seaweed salad is available all over here, but it’s a little harder to find in the mainland if you don’t have a good Asian market nearby. I have found pretty good seaweed salad at Costco if you don’t mind getting a ton of it. In Hawaii, the sweet potatoes are purple. I have not seen them in stores on the mainland, but I am sure some specialty food shops somewhere must have them. If you can’t find them, substitute good ol’ orange sweet potatoes.

IMG_5596-001Ahi Poke with Avocado
Serves 6-8

3 tablespoons ginger, grated

1/2 cup shoyu

2 pounds Ahi (yellowfin tuna)

1/2 cup green onions

2 Hass avocados

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon pink Hawaiian sea salt

Fresh seaweed salad

1 Hawaiian sweet potato

1/3 cup canola oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Macerate ginger in soy sauce for at least 15 minutes in a small bowl. Meanwhile, cut the Ahi and avocado into 1/2-inch cubes. Finely chop green onions. In a large bowl, combine Ahi and avocado with green onions, red pepper flakes, and sesame seeds. Add more red pepper, or Sriracha red chile sauce (rooster brand), if you want more kick. Whisk sesame oil into macerated ginger sauce and then combine with Ahi mixture. Combine gently so avocados maintain their shape. Season with salt. Cover and refrigerate before serving.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice sweet potato thinly for potato chips, 1/4-inch or less. This is easiest if you have a mandolin. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with canola oil. Place slices onto baking sheet, coating oil on both sides. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake for about 8 minutes, turn slices over and coat with more oil if necessary. Bake until crispy for another 7 minutes more. Drain on paper towel covered plate.

To serve, spoon some Ahi poke onto dish along with some seaweed salad and a few sweet potato chips.

Recipe by Julie Ogilvie. Photos by Aaron Ogilvie.