Growing Avocados Using Hydroponics

Hi! My name’s Brock. Yeah, sounds like Barack, except without the first “a.” Huh, you say? Barack, you know, that black guy running for President, the one that Ted Kennedy just endorsed…

Anyway, I spent a lot of time in Silicon Valley but four years ago the corporation I work for opened a branch office in a suburb of Bangor, Maine. California sunshine to Atlantic coast snow storms! Why do I still work for them? It’s a long story, but I’m one of those people who actually enjoy the work he does.

But I’ve started this blog not to talk about my work, but rather to chronicle my attempts to transplant a little bit of California culture to the frozen ground of New England.

In California, I got used to going out each morning to an avocado tree in my backyard and picking a fruit to eat for breakfast. Nothing like the taste of freshly picked, organically grown avocado, left on the branches until perfectly ripe.

I’m not too big on seafood, so Maine’s cuisine didn’t appeal to me. When I won a bit of money on the State lottery shortly after the moved here, I decided to spend it on building a tropical greenhouse in my backyard. Luckily, my house is located on several acres of fairly level terrain.

The external structure of the greenhouse consists of tempered glass held together by stainless steel tubing. I looked into polyethylene greenhouses, but the harsh winter weather of Maine called for something more substantial. So my glass house was finished, what else did I have to do?

I had to do research in hydroponic gardening. Did I mention that I decided to grow avocado trees using hydroponics? The hydroponic system I chose is a modular bucket ebb and flow (or flood and drain) system.

This allowed me to place the buckets far enough from each other to allow for the spreading canopy of the mature trees, while providing enough support considering the size of the modules and the grow medium (baked clay pebbles) so my trees would not topple over.

I had to specify that the roof of the greenhouse had to be at least 15 feet, since the species of dwarf avocado that I decided to grow has been known to reach that height. I hoped to keep the trees at 12 feet, by frequent pruning. This has to be done very carefully, because a severely pruned avocadoi tree has been known to stop producing fruit for three or four years, until it restores its branches.

It has taken four years for the trees to become mature enough to produce fruit. I had to put up with store bought avocados from Florida and California while I was waiting.

When you consider the carbon emissions caused by transporting produce that great a distance, growing your own close to home makes more and more sense.

Avocados like a lot of organic matter when grown in soil, so I am using a 100% organic fertilizer to nourish my trees. I tested different brands (more on that later) of general hydroponics fertilizers, until I discovered Advanced Nutrients Iguana Juice, Grow and Bloom.

Since the vegetative growth of my trees took such a long time, I was advised to mix some Bloom into the Grow formula, to make it more of an all around fertilizer. Actually, Advanced Nutrients suggest using its synthetic 3-part (Micro, Grow, and Bloom) by mixing all three ingredients throughout both grow and bloom cycles.

I hope you continue reading this blog for further details of how my four-year labor of love managed to produce enough fruit to keep me happy for many more breakfasts to come.

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11 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    avocado99 said,

    I notice that you sell a DWC aero hydro unit. Have you tried it out? How does it perform?

  2. 2

    Teheran Fan said,

    This is very cool. Avocados will fuel the revolution.

  3. 3

    David said,

    I moved to Florida (from California) a few years ago. I was thinking about trying to grow, an avacodo tree with the Ebb and Flow system using a large bucket but didn’t know if it was possible. I guess I’ll try it?!

  4. 4

    Joan said,

    This is amazing! What variety are you working with? did you start with breeding seeds or Cuttings?
    maintained at what temperature?
    lets talk…!

  5. 5

    Benzie said,

    I’ve just gotten into growing through hydroponics through my parents I have a fully stocked green house for my use and I am interested in growing my own avocados. I love them and my family has yet to try grow a tree type plant. We own our own hydro/organics shop in Pensacola Fl. So I want to try avocados and maybe lemon trees. I like to know how you started you plants weather a cut or a seed and what system you have found to be the best. I want to grow them out in the green house so no light are needed. Also what temperature and type of avocado be a good starter. I’m doing this so I can learn more and also eat them. I understand it takes awhile for them to be ready. So I just like to know when be a good time to start and how to get it started. Also if you started from seeds do I need to buy them of can I used what I have from the avocados I eat.

  6. 6

    avocado99 said,

    Since I needed to grow dwarf avocado trees, just using the seeds from store-bought avocados would not work. I bought several tiny trees from a nursery in California, that has since gone belly up. I can’t recall the Latin name, all I know is that they were labelled “dwarf avocados.”

    Yes, it took four years for the trees to mature and bear fruit, but now they’re providing me with my favorite breakfast food frquently throughout the year. Since avocados prefer a warmer climate than Maine, I keep them at California temperatures, but more like San Francisco, not as hot as L.A.

  7. 7

    nanci said,

    I have a tree in my “greenhouse”… a sunroom attached to my house, warm enough to keep the plants alive even when we leave for Costa Rica in February (we have passive solar design, kinda). I grew my tree from a seed. It has flowered, but never produced fruit. I am lucky with plants, they’re pretty tall, about 12-15 feet but I doubt I have the skill to “graft” one. I trimmed the branches, so that may be why the tree hasn’t come to fruit yet. I also haven’t fertilized it muck. Maybe fertilize it and leave it alone and see what happens?

  8. 9

    jonathan said,

    dude i will be watching this space.
    I have been growing some pips for 2 months now. A quick question, these pips are different breeds , will they be able to cross-pollinate ?

  9. 10

    ROBERT said,

    HOW IS YOUR AVOCADO PLANT? I CAN RELATE TO YOUR DEDICATION.I LIVE IN MAINE ALSO AND HAVE A 3 YEAR OLD AVOCADO TREE.

  10. 11

    Laurie said,

    To Brock we would love to see your operation as we LOVE avacados!! We also live in Maine and my son lives in Bangor. Email me if you wouldn’t mind us coming to see your greenhouse. Thanks


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