Permaculture Four-Dimensional Design Case Study: Creating a Micro-Ecosystem for Avocados in a Marginal Location

Two years ago I started preparing a spot to grow avocados. Last week I planted them.

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That’s planning ahead 24 months to plant a tree. This is how it started.

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This is how it looked last week.

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Why so long? A couple of reasons: Young avos need to be protected from frost and strong sunlight. Older avos will die in poorly drained soils. We have frosts and clay soils, so we built an ‘island’ and planted nurse trees.

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The mound provides drainage and the tagasaste provides frost and sun protection. Additionally, the tagasaste provide nitrogen, ‘chop and drop’ mulch, and bee fodder.

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The other thing that took so long is that our order with the nursery was placed 20 months in advance. The nursery only grafts and grows to order, and makes sure to provide large enough trees of the highest quality.

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Two weeks ago I collected 21 trees: Hass, Reed, Bacon and Sharwill all grafted onto Zutano root stock.

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This all represents a huge investment in time, money and resources. We plan to make it pay off by caring for the trees until they are well established, and then pruning them to maintain a manageable height. We’ve planted them with heaps of compost and a thick bed of mulch to keep them from drying out this summer. As the avos grow up we will progressively prune the tagasaste out of existence.

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We’ve interplanted our A-types and B-types to assure the best cross-pollination. Our family and our interns love avos, so growing our own will represent a significant savings to our grocery bill. We’ll also have surplus to sell locally.

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This long, staged process is what four-dimensional design is all about: looking ahead; making a plan; gathering resources; getting your hands dirty; and, seeing it through to completion. In permaculture one aim is to achieve a yield. We may wait another two years for ours, but it will be well worth it.

48 months for an avocado? You bet.

Peace, Estwing

2 thoughts on “Permaculture Four-Dimensional Design Case Study: Creating a Micro-Ecosystem for Avocados in a Marginal Location”

  1. Wow! That is some preparation:) I have 2 avocados in pots that grew from seeds that were in my compost… 🙂 They are both around 30 cm high. Probably few more years until I will have some avos there?

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