THE MEXICOLA AVOCADO
Growing avocados can be rewarding and cost effective, especially when you see the price of avocados in the grocery store these days. You must, however, pay attention to the type of avocado tree you purchase depending on the area of the country in which you live. The following advice is based on a California Bay Area climate, meaning hot summers and freezing winters without snow. Avocados are a tropical fruit so if you do not live in a tropical climate, it can be challenging to keep an avocado tree alive through winter. Enter the Mexicola avocado tree.
(right, small Mexicola avocados ready for guacamole)
All avocado trees need a year or two post-purchase in order to mature into a fruit producing tree. After a year or so of caring for your young, fruitless tree it will begin to produce flowers. The following year, a young tree will then produce its first fruit. Usually, this first fruit will only just begin to grow and then die off. Don't be discouraged. This is just your tree's trial run at making fruit. The following year, your tree will produce plenty of avocados. Mexicola trees are high-producing with hundreds of small avocados on one mature tree alone. The Mexicola Grande tree does not produce as much fruit as the Mexicola, but its fruit is much larger so you get more meat per fruit.
For whatever reason, there is a lack of information on the web regarding the Mexicola, which I hope to correct with this post. The Mexicola, and its larger variation the Mexicola Grande, is a great option for those of us that live in a climate that is warm in the summer, yet cold in the winter. Mexicola trees can handle weather down to 17 degrees Fahrenheit. They produce small, yet delicious fruit and are one of the only variations with edible skin. The Mexicola's skin is very thin and hard to peel away from the fruit. The Mexicola also has a large pit so it takes several avocados to get a good amount of guacamole. When the fruit is ripe the avocado turns a purple/black color and does not like to stay on the tree long after ripening. Oddly, after picking the avocados they are best when wrinkly, super soft, and almost seem over-ripe.
Fruit trees are heavy feeders and need proper water and fertilization. We use Espoma brand citrus and avocado organic fertilizer every October, February, and June (pictured right). This can be purchased at any Home Depot, Lowe's, or your local nursery. We also believe that consistent watering is a key to avocado success. Make sure to water your avocados at least every other day, but do not flood the base of your avocado tree. This will drown the tree and stunt its growth. I say this, however, with caution as your avocado tree will need a lot of water.
In addition, many people tend to get prune-happy and over prune their tree. Remember, an avocado tree needs its upper and lower leaves to protect the trunk from sunburn in the summer and frostburn in the winter. Therefore, trimming your Mexicola is an art form. Make sure to get the tree branches off of the ground while at the same time leaving the trunk protected. I like to wait to prune a tree until after winter so as not to risk exposing a tree's core to freezing. This may mean it looks a bit messy during the fall, but it will be worth it come spring.
(Above you can see the difference in size between the Mexicola and Mexicola Grande)
Pest Control Tip: If you find that rodents, squirrels, birds, racoons, or any other animals are stealing your fruit there is an easy, organic way to protect your trees. Take a spray bottle and mix a lot of hot sauce with water. Spray the mixture onto the growing fruit. It will not taste good to the hungry creatures in your yard. It may leave a thin, white film on the fruit that simply wipes right off. Problem solved.