Tipu (Tipuana tipu) is a South American tree with orange-yellow flowers this time of the year. (Photo by Joshua Siskin)
Tipu (Tipuana tipu) is a South American tree with orange-yellow flowers this time of the year. (Photo by Joshua Siskin)
Tipu tree (Photo by Joshua Siskin)
Tipu tree (Photo by Joshua Siskin)

If there is a diversity of avocado trees planted in your neighborhood, you can plant a single tree and harvest a respectable crop of fruit. However, if yours is the only avocado tree on the block, and your space is limited — trees should be separated by at least 18 feet if planted individually — consider planting two trees in the same hole. You will need to verify that one is an A tree (such as ‘Hass’) and one is a B tree (such as ‘Fuerte’), since A and B types complement each other flowering times are concerned.

In 1925, Rudolph Hass (rhymes with pass) was 33 years old and earning 25 cents an hour as a mail carrier in Pasadena. Originally from Wisconsin, he had decided to come West to seek his fortune.

But Hass, who had a young family to support, was barely surviving on his post office paycheck when he saw a picture in a magazine of a tree with green fruit and dollar bills hanging from it. The picture, it turned out, was of an avocado tree and the accompanying article promoted the idea that growing its fruit could be a profitable enterprise.

So Hass took every cent he had and, together with a loan from his sister, purchased a one and a half acre plot of land in La Habra Heights.

He found old, unproductive avocado trees growing on a portion of the property and these he cut back radically and grafted anew with fresh budwood. As for the remainder of the property, taking the advice of an experienced orchardist, he planted three avocado seeds in holes spaced 12 feet apart. When the three seedlings in each hole had grown to graftable size in about a year’s time, he would keep the strongest of the three and discard the other two.

According to plan, when the seedlings were properly sized, the strongest of each grouping was professionally grafted to the ‘Fuerte’ variety, which was the most popular variety at that time due to its ability to survive a mild frost.

A short time later, it was learned upon inspection that three of these seedling grafts had failed and needed to be re-grafted. Of these re-grafts, two succeeded but a single seedling stubbornly refused to accept a ‘Fuerte’ graft the second time around.

Hass wanted to uproot the recalcitrant seedling since, even after it began to bear fruit precociously, after only four or five years of age, he was set on having nothing but young Fuerte trees as his new plantings.

However, the same professional grafter who had succeeded with all the other seedlings persuaded Hass that the remaining ungrafted seedling was strong and should be left alone. Hass’ family and friends also advocated to keep the little tree since the taste of its…