Flowers are the prettiest, but I chose to focus my camera’s lens on a perfect leaf … because the leaves are the constant source of energy, protection, and general health of an avocado tree. If the tree doesn’t have enough water at the right time, it shows in the leaves. The tips of the leaves turn brown and lifeless. If insects eat the leaves, the tree can’t survive. If the tree lacks nutrients, the leaves turn yellowish. The healthiest avocado trees are the most beautiful…with lush, dark green leaves that glisten in the sunlight.
By the middle of May, the avocado trees are almost finished blooming. The new growth has turned from the beautiful rusty reds to a deep green, becoming large enough to cover the baby avocados and protect them from the sun. These leaves are essential for the health of the tree, doing the work of photosynthesis, converting light energy and carbon dioxide into sugars (carbohydrates) providing food and energy for the tree. As the new leaves grow larger, the old tired leaves fall off the tree and create a deep carpet of dry, brown leaves on the earthen floor of the grove. The thick layer of leaves helps hold in the moisture for the shallow rooted tree.
If the bees have done their job, thousands of flowers have been pollinated and tiny baby avocados have begun to grow where the flowers used to be. The leaves surround these babies with their nurturing presence…sustenance, nourishment, persevering guardianship.
The baby avocados grow quickly, becoming the size of olives while tiny new babies come forth from later blooms. The first flowers set fruit a month or two before the last flowers do.
The baby avocados begin to develop bumpy skin…these are baby Hass avocados! Meanwhile, the mature avocados on the tree are sizing up to be harvested. The tree is sustaining two families at one time: the fruit that has been growing since last year, and the new babies that will be growing for the next year.
The luckiest avocados grow in the shade of healthy, strong leaves. Not all of them are fortunate to have shelter from the scorching sun. Sadly, many will fall off the tree when they’re still small. The tree can’t support all those baby avocados anyway…if they all grew, the branches would break under their weight. Sometimes farmers set up supports to hold up the branches on trees with too many heavy avocados. This is the time to begin harvesting the biggest avocados that have been growing for the past year, and let the smaller ones continue to grow.
Now is the time to enjoy California Hass avocados. The Fuerte avocado season ended in April, and now we can enjoy the full flavor of the Hass variety. We select the biggest ones and harvest them now, while the smaller ones can grow larger over the next several months.
We’ve been enjoying avocado toast with extra toppings every day, and our easy-to-peel, seedless Tango mandarin oranges are super sweet right now. I’ll be sharing some of our favorite avocado toast combinations in future posts. Happy May!
If you’d like to have some fresh, picked-to-order California avocados or Tango mandarin oranges sent to you from our farm, visit our website at CaliforniaAvocadosDirect.com.