Indoor Growing of Peaches, apricots, and nectarines

First, crack the stone a little – just enough to break the sides open slightly. Then plant it in a 4 inch pot of compost, about 1 inch deep. Put the pot in a warm, shady place and keep the compost damp. After some months, a little shoot should appear. Place the pot in a sunny position. Each spring, cut back the branches to a compact shape. A spell outdoors in the sun every summer will help, and so will liquid fertilizer when watering. Re-pot when the plant grows bigger. You may get flowers, but fruit is unlikely.

Avocados for giant plants

An Avocado stone needs to be started off in the dark. It can be grown in compost, but it is easier and more interesting to put it first (small end up) in a narrow glass with water reaching half way up: you will be able to watch the initial root and shoot growth. Foil around the glass will keep light out but won’t exclude air.

Put the glass near a radiator or hot tank and keep the water topped up. If the stone gets slimy, rinse it under the tap and put it back in clean water. The stone should start to split within a month or two, and a root and shoot will appear from it. When these are an inch long, the stone should go into a 6 inch pot of compost. Keep it out of strong light until it is 3 inches tall. In years to come it will grow several feet high if it gets enough sunshine and protection from draughts. A stick for support and, in due course, a bigger pot are likely to be needed. Regular watering (with liquid fertilizer added) is necessary.

Trees from citrus pips

The pips of Oranges, Lemons, Grapefruits or (prettiest of all) Tangerines are best planted in spring. Put three pips of one kind in each 3-inch pot of damp compost, about 1 inch down, or plant in fruit skin halves. As with Avocado stones, darkness and warmth are needed, and regular checks on the dampness of the compost. When shoots appear a month or two later, gradually bring the plant nearer full light and when it is 4 inches tall transfer it to a bigger pot of compost. An advantage of growing pips in fruit skins is that the skin too can be planted, thus avoiding any disturbance of the roots: they will grow through the skin. A few months later, there should be the beginnings of a small, glossy-leaved tree which in years to come might even produce flowers and fruit. Care for it like a Peach tree . Citrus pips can be used to grow a forest in a dish. Collect dozens of pips, soak overnight, press down all over damp compost and sprinkle a little more of it on top. Keep damp, adding a little liquid fertilizer to the water, and in a few weeks a glossy-leaved, miniature forest will fill the dish.

Palms from date stones

These are trickier because they come from a very hot climate. Plant several to a pot like citrus pips and put the pot right on a radiator or hot tank, covered with a polythene bag to keep draughts out and moisture in. When shoots appear, use small sticks to prop up the bag so that it does not touch them. When the plants are 3 inches high, you can remove the bag but they must be kept warm and regularly given water containing liquid fertilizer.

Fast results from mangoes and lychees

Both these fruits have stones which can produce impressive plants swiftly once they have germinated. Start them off in the same way as Avocados . It will be two or three months before growth starts but then it will be rapid. The Lychee can grow 6 feet of leafy stem in a year; the Mango produces extraordinary contortions of stem initially and then lovely long leaves. Both need plentiful moisture as well as warmth. The steam of a bathroom is ideal, provided the room remains fairly warm at night.

Creepers from melons, marrows and cucumbers

These grow quickly from pips if started off in spring in the same way as citrus pips , but with warmth throughout their life. Small plants should have grown within a month or two, with 4 foot creepers by the end of the year. These will need strings or wires fixed to a wall to which to cling. You may even get edible fruits if you cross-pollinate the flowers of each plant, by dabbing them with cottonwool.

Apple, pear and plum trees

No great heat is needed for these. In fact, the reverse is true. Start by placing pips or stones between pads of cotton-wool (which must be kept moist) in the refrigerator until shoots appear. Then plant in compost and treat in the usual way. (Cherry stones can be treated like this, too, but are less reliable.)

Nuts

Walnuts and Hazels may grow into little trees if you plant them in sand in late autumn, leave in a cool and dark place, then carefully transplant to compost in spring. An acorn can be suspended on a string in water, or (like other seeds from trees) planted in compost.

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