Right now avocado prices are hitting record highs due to bad weather in California and Mexico and exploding demand in Asia (specifically China). I don’t know about you, but I love avocados and generally eat 2-3 a week. With avocados in my area now going for ~$3 each, I decided to get my own tree.
I did some research and found a local nursery in the East Bay Area that specializes in avocado and citrus trees. This was perfect because I also wanted to get a Meyer lemon tree. I chose to pay a little more to get a larger more mature Hass avocado tree that is ~12 feet tall. The Meyer lemon tree that I chose is ~4 feet tall but very stalky and already flowering. The nursery agreed to give me a discount on the installation/planting of the trees if I prepped the areas and helped with the installation/planting and the total cost came out to $1,400 (which includes free replacement if either of the trees die within the first year).
The area that I wanted to plant the Meyer lemon tree had a ~30 foot tall juniper tree that needed to be cut down because it was blocking out sunlight. I was able to cut most of it down using a pole saw and rigged up a pulley system using an eye bolt (screwed into the tree) and a rope that allowed me to ease the branches down to the ground after I cut them. This was important to keep the branches from falling on my neighbor’s garage or crashing into my house. I then used a chainsaw to cut down the thick parts of the trunk and I cut the stump to a ground level height.
Not wanting to put in the time or effort attempting to remove the stump and root ball, I decided that the best method was to rot it out. I used a powerful drill and a 16 inch spade bit and drilled 20 or so deep holes into the stump “Swiss cheesing” it. I then used to a funnel to fill each of the holes with blood meal that I got at a local organic gardening supply store. Blood meal is very high in nitrogen and accelerates the decaying of stumps without using harmful chemicals. I covered the stump with compost from my compost bin and then with a few inches of mulch and then sprayed it down with water (all of which helps to decay the stump).
Notice the volunteer zucchini and cucumber seedlings growing out of the mulch mound covering the stump
I wanted to plant the avocado tree on the hillside in the far back part of the property but the hill was a little too steep. I decided to create a leveled terrace on the hillside by using logs from the juniper tree and logs that were scattered around the hillside from a fallen tree that my neighbor had removed in the fall. I stacked and arranged the logs to create a strong natural retaining wall and then back-filled it with compost and mulch.
Below is an analysis of the estimated value in dollars of fruit that the trees are estimated to produce over the next 10 years. You’ll see highlighted in blue that the expected breakeven of the cost of the trees is between year 4 and year 5. That is a pretty fast breakeven and doesn’t even include the added value/equity it provides to the property.
My trees were delivered about a month ago and I helped to install/plant them on a very rainy day. Today both of the trees are looking super healthy and they should begin producing fruit very soon. I’m definitely looking forward to the convenience of having fresh avocados and lemons growing in my yard and saving money by no longer having to buy them.