book review – After Dinner Gardening Book (1969)

this is a cross post from my ‘other’ blog.

After making 1 avocado guacamolé the other day I was left with of course an avocado pit. Then I remembered the chapter in Richard Langer’s, After Dinner Gardening Book (1969) which is as useful today as it ever was. It is still out of print, but it seems there are a ridiculous number of copies online.

Each chapter in Langer’s book is chatty essay about indoor gardening with your leftovers; mangos, artichokes, papayas, loquat etc… One of those books you read and obviously remember decades later. I usually keep a few copies around so that I don’t have to loan my personal one out. It’s easier just to give it as a present.

Getting back to the avocado. Langer advises, starting with a pot large enough for the avocado’s 1st year of growth. Laying in a layer of gravel to prevent overwatering, then a mixture of 2/3rds potting soil to 1/3rd humus with a handful of vermiculite. To speed germination he advises a sort of seed circumcision recommended by the California experiment station. Using a razor blade cut a thin sliver off of both the tip and base of the seed. Plant the pit with the larger flatter end down about two thirds into the soil so that the tip is well exposed. The pit should be then ‘doused with tepid water’, and if your apartment is very dry, invert a plastic or glass cup over the pit to help keep it moist. (sounds like a good job for a small soda bottle, which they didn’t have in 1969.) Langer warns it can take between 1 and 3 months for germination, at which time the pit should be covered with more hummus to prevent drying out.

Of course the book goes into all the whys and wherefores, reporting his experiments and failures but it makes good after dinner reading. As a matter of fact since I have mine out, I guess I will reread it and see what I will be eating tomorrow.

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