Is there anything better than avocado? The strange little "alligator pear" has become a beloved fruit due to its buttery texture, earthy taste, high nutritional value and versatility in the kitchen.
This fun fruit can easily be turned into an educational project for children, especially in the summer months when school is closed, or as part of a homeschool curriculum.
With just a few items that you most likely already have in your home, you can sprout a sapling that will either thrive indoors in a sunny place or planted in your garden if you live in a warm climate.
Children not only have the experience of observing the plant life cycle right in front of their eyes, but also the pleasure of observing how their small seed turns into a large, beautiful tree.
Introduce them to science and garden or expand their knowledge.
Photo by Kelly Spicer.
It is important to note that most avocados bought in the store do not produce a tree that can bear fruit for many years.
Sometimes the tree can be sterile overall or produce fruits that are different from the original.
Because sharp objects must be used for this project, children should be supervised by a parent or adult at all times.
You need some household items to get started:
- Bought a store, ripe avocado (or more than one if you're ambitious!)
- Three toothpicks per avocado
- A glass or a glass per avocado or a seed-starting dish like the Avoseedo, available at Amazon.
- A sharp knife to split the avocado
- A spoon to remove the seed
- A kitchen towel or a paper towel to tidy up
Choosing a ripe avocado
Before delving into this project, you should make sure that the avocado you have selected is very ripe in order to achieve an optimal germination potential for seeds. Underripe fruit seeds may not germinate.
In the United States, the "Hass" variety is most commonly available in grocery stores, although there are hundreds of varieties. So do your best to identify the type you are buying.
Pay attention to the color when choosing a ripe fruit – a ripe hate avocado should be deep green to almost black. Other light green varieties become dull and turn slightly yellow.
A general rule for the ripeness of an avocado you want to consume is that the fruit should give way slightly when pressed gently.
However, a mushy fruit that is overripe is sufficient for this project. So don't throw away those spoiled avocados!
If the stem of the fruit is still attached, pluck it out and look at what's underneath.
If it is light green, the fruit is not ripe and should not be used for this purpose. If it's dark green to brown for this project, you're in good shape.
Get the best tips for ripening an avocado on our sister site Foodal.
An adult should use a knife to cut the fruit all the way from top to bottom and let the knife rest as a fulcrum against the seed inside.
Photo by Kelly Spicer.
Then turn the two halves in opposite directions to pull them apart. When the sides have been separated, use a spoon to remove the seed from the inside.
Wash it gently to remove any remaining meat.
If the avocado is still fresh enough to eat, have the children dig into the remaining fruit with a pinch of salt and a spoon or make homemade guacamole.
You can find a recipe for it also on Foodal.
Trees can be propagated using various methods. For our purpose, however, we will only discuss one that works well if you start from the seed.
With this method, children can watch the seed split and the sprout begin to grow and take root inside.
This is an interesting, experimental opportunity to discuss a plant's growth cycle. what it needs and how to care for it when it changes from a tiny, leafless shoot to a beautiful, mature tree; and how important it is to plant trees for humans and for the earth.
The children can do one Garden journal To document the growth process, you can extend the lesson to all ages if you and your children are interested.
This project is also a wonderful opportunity to take pictures. So have your phone or camera ready to capture the excitement of discovery and exploration.
Share your photos with us in the comments section below – we'd love to see your progress!
Note that the shape of most avocado seeds resembles a raindrop. The top is tapered and the bottom is wider and rounder.
At the bottom, the seed coat sometimes appears a little lighter.
The seed is rooted from below, with the sprout growing from the tapered top. To facilitate water absorption, you should remove a small tape to expose the inside of the seed.
Photo by Kelly Spicer.
An adult should carefully remove the splinter from the bottom of the seed with a sharp knife, as shown below. Discard the removed part.
Hold the seed with the tapered end up and the exposed end down, and carefully insert the toothpicks approximately in the middle of the seed.
You want them to be arranged so that the seed sits a little lower than the mouth of the glass or jar that you use to sprout your plant.
Photo by Kelly Spicer.
Place the seed in the container and fill the glass or jar with cold water until about 1 inch of the bottom of the seed is submerged.
Make sure that the seed is not completely submerged in water.
Photo by Kelly Spicer.
If you're using a special seed starter like the Avoseedo, skip the previous two steps and place the seed directly in the bowl provided.
Float the bowl in a wider container of cold water.
Avoseedo Kit, available on Amazon
Place the container in a warm place with indirect sunlight and monitor the water level so that the seed remains in contact with the water at all times. If the seed dries out, it will not sprout.
One of my children's favorite moments during this project was finding the telltale crack in the seed, which indicates that the sprout has started to grow.
Have the children check the semen daily. If your kids are something like mine, finding this crack will be as exciting as it was on Christmas morning.
Photo by Kelly Spicer.
Generally, it can take one to six weeks for the seed to germinate. If it is more than six weeks ago and the seed still shows no signs of life, throw it away and start with a fresh seed.
If the seed develops mold, gently pull off the brown seed coat to determine if the mold has affected the seed underneath. If not, throw away the seed coat and continue to wait for the seed to sprout.
If it affected the underlying seed, discard it and start again. Wash the seed well before preparing it for germination and make sure that it is not submerged in water.
After the seed has split, the growth should be faster and more obvious.
The sprout begins to push the seed apart, and the root begins to reach into the water to look for nutrients.
Once the root has become clearly visible, it is important to change the water every two to three days to refresh it.
Store the seedling in a sunny place or under a growing light to encourage the sprout to form its first real leaves.
A lack of sunlight results in a long, leggy stalk when the seedling struggles to find the light.
If both the root and the sprout are a few inches long, it's time to take your seedling to his new home.
When the roots of your seedling are two to three inches in length, it's time to transplant them into a permanent container or into the soil in your garden.
If your zone is appropriate, you should plant your tree outdoors instead of growing it indoors as an indoor plant.
Potting for a houseplant
The avocado can be grown indoors as a potted plant. However, be aware that these trees can reach a height of more than 20 feet, so they are not suitable for the status of a houseplant.
Dwarf varieties exist, but fruits of a dwarf variety are unlikely to be offered for sale in a grocery store.
You can find more information about the different types of avocado in our Summary of cold-tolerant varieties.
Growing indoors also reduces the likelihood that your tree will ever bear fruit.
While some gardeners suggest planting the seedling in an 8-10 inch pot, you need to be aware that if you use a pot of this size, you will need to grow several times as the tree grows to prevent it from rooting.
To give the roots more room to spread out, resulting in a healthier plant, start with a pot that is 20 inches deep or more, drains well, and is made of a robust material.
The children can combine a part of potting soil, a part of pearlite and a part Peat moss or Coconut Coconut in a large mixing bowl or plastic bag.
Fill the pot or planter to three-quarters and reserve the rest to fill in after you plant your seedling. This mixture is important because the avocado needs well-drained, ventilated soil.
Put your seedling on the ground. However, be careful not to put pressure on the roots as they are brittle and break easily.
Use the remaining soil mix to fill gaps and give the seedling a secure base.
Instead of burying it completely, leave the seed flush with the surface of the soil. Thorough water to moisten the soil and bring the seedling to its new home.
Give your avocado a sunny place with at least eight hours of sunlight a day to grow, and continue to provide about an inch of water a week.
Make sure that excess water runs off – avocados don't like wet feet.
In warmer months when the outside temperature is above 60 ° F, move the tree outside to soak up the sun.
As a houseplant, you should prune to keep the size of the tree at bay. In spring and summer, new growth occurs at the end of the branches. Therefore, reduce it as necessary.
This task is best left to adults or older children who can handle sharp tools.
If you live in an area where there is no risk of frost, you have the option of planting your tree outdoors.
Start by choosing a place in your garden full sun exposure for at least eight hours a day – avocados love light and warmth.
Involve the children in choosing a location. Use a chart to track hours of sunlight, measure enough space, observe how weather patterns affect potential planting sites, and record soil conditions.
Use these documented observations to discuss and compare options for the perfect location.
Soil at the planting site is also an important consideration. Loose, healthy soil with good drainage is best for plant health. If your floor is not ideal, it can be changed if necessary.
Read these instructions Find out more about the soil in your garden.
Discuss with the children what you can do to improve soil health and why it is important.
Remember that your tree can reach between 20 and 60 feet in height at the time of ripening. So avoid planting it in a location where obstacles such as power lines, eaves and other structures can be a problem.
Once you've selected the location, children can first dig a hole that is twice as wide and deep as the root system of the seedling.
Again, it is important to be careful when handling the roots, as they are brittle and can easily be damaged. Therefore adult supervision is important.
Place the seedling in the prepared hole and let the children carefully fill with soil to fill in gaps. Keep the seeds level with the ground and fill in the remaining space.
Children can carefully push the soil in with their hands to stabilize the plant.
Let the children water well for the first few weeks to settle down and keep an eye on the planting site. Allow most of the soil to dry out between waterings.
Creating an irrigation plan can help children remember to check out their new tree.
Children can continue to track weather patterns and compare them to tree growth to understand how too much or too little water affects their tree.
Comprehensive information on how to keep your tree healthy and prosperous can be found in our Guide to growing avocados.
- Don't expect a tree grown from seeds to bear fruit.
- If a prepared seed does not sprout within six weeks, start with a new one.
- Give your seedling a warm place indoors with indirect sunlight.
- Make sure your tree is in direct sunlight for at least 8 hours every day.
- Let the soil dry out between deep waterings.
- Don't let your tree sit in damp soil.
Zap Boredom and give kids a fun science project they'll enjoy for years to come!
Projects like this are great ways to fill children's lives with interesting educational opportunities.
So many products can be converted into learning experiences with little cost and effort.
After your seed has got its sunny place on your windowsill, you can conjure up guacamole. Who doesn't love this bonus?
Tell us in the comments about some garden projects you would recommend to children! We love your ideas!
And for more interesting garden projectsNext, take a look at these instructions:
About Kelly Spicer
Kelly Spicer grew up single at a young age and quickly learned how scary food insecurity can be. As a result, she started teaching herself to learn how to grow food, which led to a passion for caring for others in need. Kelly is currently coordinating a plan to create a tropical homestead in South Florida that will provide needy families with local food and teach them to grow their own. She is working towards certification as a gardener and is building a lifelong love for nature with her children.