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Pawpaw Fruit Trees & Methley Plum Trees
November 19, 2019

In my last blog, I mentioned the 61 fruit bearing trees in my landscape. Among avocados, lychees, prickly pears, previously showcased, etc. I also am the proud owner of two Pawpaw fruit trees and a Methley plum tree. These are some of my latest purchases that I planted in our landscape in the last two to three weeks. They are both fruit trees that grow in the shade, something that is very difficult to find as almost all fruit trees require full sun in order to produce fruit well. I thought it would be fun to feature both varieties in a two for one blog!

As you can see, they are pretty scrawny starting out and so they have some work to do to get bigger in order to produce. This is my first foray into ordering trees online. So honestly, I had little idea what I was really getting. That is why I prefer to go to the nursery and pick out personally the trees I am buying. However, that was the only way I could find fruit trees that produce in the shade. Anyway, I know for those of you that follow my blog, it won’t be surprising to learn that I am just about out of sunny areas left in the landscape! What will I do when I have no more room to plant new trees?!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with these types of fruits, I have included a photo below featuring two Pawpaw trees and a Methley plum tree in the middle.

Pawpaw trees produce large, yellowish-green to brown fruit, while Methley plum trees bear red purple fruit. The latter ripens from late May to early July. Which means the plums are the perfect summertime treat. How refreshing, am I right? Meanwhile Pawpaw fruit mature/become ripe in late August to mid-September. So, I guess you could say they are in season come early fall.

Did you know that Pawpaw fruits are the largest edible fruit indigenous to the United States? They originated from all over the map, from places like New York to southeastern Nebraska, and even south to northern Florida and eastern Texas. Someone even told me it is a tree mentioned in the movie The Jungle Book. Flavor wise, the Pawpaw fruit is sweet. In fact, some people consider its taste to be similar to a banana. Anyone who is a dessert lover, will appreciate the texture of a Pawpaw fruit, as it resembles custard. While most people enjoy Pawpaw fruits raw, they can also be added to desserts, such as fresh ice cream and baked goods. Can you say sweet tooth?

Of course, as The Healthy Lawyer, I must let you know about the nutritional benefits of the Pawpaw fruit as well. Not only are they a rich source of Vitamin C (20% or more of the recommended daily value), but these fruits also have magnesium (32% of the recommended daily value) and iron (54% of the recommended daily value.)

Going back to the Methley plum tree, did you know it is a cultivar of the Japanese plum tree? As I previously mentioned, the fruit ripens during the summer months. Similar to Pawpaw fruits, Methley plums are sweet. Much like other plums, they are very juicy! In my opinion, this tree is actually low maintenance. For example, it tolerates heat well, which is imperative since we live in Florida. Not to mention, Methley plum trees can produce fruit without being planted in multiples.

I’m excited to explore many other fruits and aspects of healthy living with you all. Don’t forget, a healthy life is more than just what you put into your body, it also involves your daily habits, work/life balance, meaningful relationships, etc.

If anyone is interested, I would enjoy learning about your personal definitions of healthy living. After all, each of us offer unique perspectives that should be shared.

Thanks for reading!

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

Still Practicing Family Law
November 5, 2019

I wanted to make sure everyone knows that I am still working full-time as a Family Law Attorney at The Marks Law Firm. From reading my Healthy Lawyer Blog, you might get the impression that all I do is hang out working in my yard, tending my 61 fruit bearing trees in the landscape and reading up on avocado and other fruit trees.

But in fact, I still love practicing Family Law and being part of a dynamic law firm with great attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants and administrative professionals (pictured below). And I think work that you love is part of being healthy.

Our Mission Statement is “To Honor God and Faithfully Represent our Clients with Great Leadership, Attitude, Excellence and Teamwork.”  We also have Core Values we live by as a Team.

I think we accomplish those on a regular basis even though handling divorces, custody disputes, paternity cases, alimony and child support issues, to name a few, can be stressful. We have been careful as a firm to make sure that we are selective in the clients we take on and we greatly appreciate the quality referral sources and friends that send us high-quality clients.

And of course, we need those quality referrals more than ever since we don’t advertise and because we rely so much on word-of-mouth and personal relationships along with the quality of work we provide.

So, I will continue to send my Healthy Lawyer Blog. I also have some exciting news I will be expounding on in future issues along with some more pictures of my avocado and other fruit trees.

Suffice it to say that I have reached my ultimate goal of losing 50 pounds and living a healthier lifestyle. I will let you know in some of my future blogs how I accomplished that and how I have learned so much about healthy eating, exercise and other healthy pursuits in the process.

Thanks for following my blog.

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

Flame Thrower Palm Tree
October 2, 2019

Before I got into avocado and other fruit trees, I was into palm trees. I guess I still am as I have about 20 different palm varieties in my landscape. Basically, because I love nature, being outdoors and trees in general, I enjoy working in my yard. Luckily for me, our Florida weather makes it enjoyable to do especially in the Fall when things start cooling off.

While it is true that I have been focusing on my fruit trees as certain varieties come into season, I also appreciate other parts of my landscape. Pictured below is my Flame Thrower Palm Tree. As you can see from the photo, portions of this tree are a deep orange-red as its name implies. The change in color typically lasts up to about 10 days. It serves as a bright spot in the otherwise green surrounding leaves and the other palms in my landscape, which you can see in the background.

Commonly known as a Flame Thrower Palm Tree, the scientific name for this variation is Chambeyronia macrocarpa. Originally from New Caledonia, an island east of Australia and north of New Zealand, the Flame Thrower is cold hardy and can handle temperatures as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. So you can imagine, it does naturally well in our colder months here in Florida.

I have also included a close-up image here to show the deep orange-red color.

Given its low maintenance nature, the Flame Thrower Palm is easy to grow and manage. For anyone who is interested in adding this palm their landscape, I encourage you to look into nursery availability.

Is there another palm or fruit tree you would like me to feature as part of my blog? Of course, I am open to suggestions and feedback from all of you.

Thank you for allowing me to share what I am also passionate about outside of Family Law. Remember, if someone you know would be interested in receiving these updates via email, encourage them to subscribe to our Mailing List on our website.

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

National Guacamole Day!
September 16, 2019

I know I don’t need an excuse to talk about avocados, but today is National Guacamole Day! I’ll be happy to share my favorite recipe for guacamole for those interested.

Depending on how much guacamole you want to make, start with three or four Hass avocados. Add 1/3-1/2 diced red onion, cilantro per your taste, 1/2 or more diced large tomato, 1/2 of a lime, minced or fresh garlic, salt and pepper and if you like it a bit spicy you can add some hot sauce.

Of course, chips are great for dipping, but I prefer to have my guacamole with tacos, add your favorite meat or not, lettuce, more diced tomatoes, more diced onions if you’re like me and love onions, and of course sour cream and yes don’t forget the hot sauce.

You notice above that I mention using Hass avocados. That’s because I know most people prefer Hass over the large green “Florida” avocado. However, I just tasted my first Simmonds avocado from my one-year-old tree in the landscape, which is a “Florida type “, technically “West Indian” avocado. I could not believe that it was every bit as good if not maybe better than the store bought Hass avocado. Unfortunately, my tree only had one avocado this first season. Most avocado trees take 2-4 years to start producing. So this was pretty good to get 1 avocado after just 1 year!

It got me thinking though. So, I know this won’t shock anyone who reads my blog, but I actually had a daydream about having an avocado tasting party in a couple years when all of my avocado varieties should be producing! I mentioned this to a good friend, and he said count him in! His only suggestion was to make sure there was some good beer to go along with it. Can anyone say Cerveza?

Have a great National Guacamole Day!

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

The Healthy Lawyer Goes on Vacation!
August 29, 2019

Although it’s been more than a couple of weeks since my last Healthy Lawyer blog, I have a good excuse. My wife and I took a two-week vacation on one of those European river cruises up the Rhine River from Basel Switzerland to Amsterdam.

Of course this was all in pursuit of having material for my Healthy Lawyer blog. Well it was because I needed a vacation and it’s important to get away and rest and get a new perspective.

I think most of you know that I have a stressful profession as a family law attorney and family law can be high conflict and wearing at times. So rather than talking about my avocado or other fruit trees, this blog is going to be more about healthy lifestyle and reminding us of the importance of taking a break and enjoying life.

I do have to say that it was exciting upon our return to find two small Jackfruits growing on my Jackfruit tree and one small Sugar Apple growing on my Sugar Apple tree. But I’ll leave those for another day.

I think most of you know that I have lost about 45 pounds over the last three or four years and have kept it off by transitioning to more of a plant-based diet. However, I still eat grass fed beef as well as chicken and other meat products. I try to eat those in more limited quantities nowadays.

I think the thing that’s helped me more is to cut out sugar and bread products, pasta, cereals and the like as much as possible. I must admit it was a tough transition to black coffee with no sweetener after years of copious quantities of Italian sweet cream in my coffee.

One of my favorite things to eat nowadays is a nice big salad with avocado, walnuts, pistachios and almonds as well as some blue cheese, olives, onion and extra virgin olive oil with balsamic vinegar. Sometimes I put a can of anchovies or sardines on top which the ladies at work really hate. Here’s a picture for you.

I would highly recommend three books for those really interested in making a change. Wheat Belly, The Plant Paradox and The Obesity Code were really helpful to me. It’s not about dieting but about changing your eating habits to a healthier way of eating. Of course, you always must make some exceptions for life and vacation cruises.

Oh, and I do intermittent fasting, which simply means I typically skip breakfast and try to eat lunch and dinner between about noon and 6 PM. It’s a real benefit there if you want to read up on that too.

The other things to make sure to incorporate into your healthy lifestyle is a good exercise program and at least seven hours of sleep each night. I have a Charge 3 Fitbit that helps me monitor my exercise, sleep and weight daily. Yes, some people might call me a bit obsessive, but it helps me keep things in check.

For those of you who like pictures, I’ve included some from our trip below.

Pictured above: My wife, Linda and I in the wine country outside of Colmar, Germany.

Pictured above: Linda and I after a bike ride along the Moselle river.

Pictured above: Linda and I along with our good friends Mike and Lisa Hodes and our favorite crew members during the final night on the ship.

To receive additional healthy lawyer content and photos, follow my new Instagram page here.

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

Cactus Fruit/Prickly Pear
July 29, 2019

The focus of this blog will be centered around the cactus fruit, sometimes called a prickly pear. Most people don’t realize that the cactus produces an edible fruit. I didn’t initially know this either. My cactus came from cuttings from my neighbor’s yard. They are very easy to propagate. Just stick them in the ground and water for a few days. They are very hardy and drought tolerant. For those of you who may not be aware of what this variety looks like, allow me to show you.

Below is a photo of a cactus fruit from my personal landscape. As you can probably see, one of my mango trees is making a small cameo in the background of this image. It’s funny, on the outside, the cactus fruit looks a little bit like a small mango. However, it did not come from the mango tree in the background. I just thought it would be fun to take the picture this way.

You may be wondering where the cactus fruit gets its name. Well, as it turns out, the fruit actually grows from a cactus (pictured below). Originally from Latin America, the prickly pear is now popular in many areas of the world. If you don’t pick the fruit when it is ripe, it will eventually become a very beautiful flower. You can see a couple of the fruit below are starting different stages of flowering.

According to research completed by the Mayo Clinic, the prickly pear offers the following health benefits:
treating diabetes
improving high cholesterol
fighting obesity
alleviating hangovers

It is also high in fiber, antioxidants and carotenoids. Like other healthy foods, the cactus fruit contains antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

How can you tell when a cactus fruit is ripe? During the early stages of growth, the outer layer of skin will appear to be green. However, as time passes, the skin will turn color and become red or yellow. Another method to determine if a prickly pear is ripe would be to check the level of firmness. You can easily do so by gently squeezing the fruit. If it feels firm but not hard, the fruit is ready to enjoy! I can easily tell when my cactus fruit turns a reddish color.

Once ripened, the prickly pear can be eaten whole. In terms of the cactus, the edible parts are as follows: the leaves, flowers, stems and fruit.

Illustrated by the photo above, flesh of the cactus fruit is soft white with tiny black seeds. It is often made into juice or fresh jams. Many people enjoy the flavor after the fruit is boiled or grilled. I like to eat fresh off the tree or sometimes in a salad. It offers some unique flavor and look to whatever you add it to.

Should you have any questions regarding the cactus fruit, please do not hesitate to ask.

To receive additional healthy lawyer content and photos, follow my new Instagram page here.

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

The Wax Jambu Kennard
July 17, 2019

In my previous post, we did take a step back into avocado territory. But as the summer progresses, I will showcase some more exotic  fruit varieties you typically can’t buy in the grocery store. While we wait for updates on the newly adopted avocado trees, I am excited to share one of my newest fruit trees. Only a month after being planted, fruit is already appearing on my Wax Jambu.

The Wax Jambu Kennard is a dense evergreen tree that produces bright and bell-shaped fruit. Some might compare its appearance to bell peppers. Like bell pepper assortments, different varieties of Wax Jambu Kennard range in color. During its ripening stages, this exotic fruit can be found in many shades, from pale to deep color. Examples include white, pale green, pink, red, light purple, deep purple and black.

You may be wondering what inspired me to add the Wax Jambu Kennard to my landscape. Well, throughout my health journey, I have become fascinated by many healthy foods that are not typically easily accessible.

The opportunity to grow my own fruits and vegetables at home has helped me become more intentional about making better food choices. I’m sure most of you are aware of the phrase “farm to table” which promotes the use of fresh ingredients. If you are interested in discussing this topic further, I can put together more recipes utilizing the fruits and vegetables that my wife, Linda and I grow in our yard.

Now that you are aware of my interest in exotic fruit trees, let’s take a closer look at the Wax Jambu Kennard. Below are photos of my tree and the fruit that has quickly developed. Keep in mind, as I mentioned before, it has only been planted for about a month.

The outer texture/skin of the Wax Jambu Kennard is quite fragile. In other words, it is easily damaged and therefore commercial transport and availability is unlikely. In its early stages of development, Wax Jambu Kennard even has the potential to sunburn.  Heavy sun exposure for blossoming Wax Jambu Kennard results in this dense fruit becoming soft.

You can see  from the photos above that the Wax Jambu Kennard is still maturing. On average, once harvested, I anticipate its size to be about 5–8 cm long.

The flesh of Wax Jambu Kennard is a pearly white. Texture wise, the flesh is solid on the outside and soft on the inside. Rather than the inner core housing the majority of flavor, most of it comes from the outer layer.

For anyone who would like to add a Wax Jambu Kennard tree to their landscape, I advise locating of the warmest parts of your yard.  Also, you may want to avoid planting in low lying or deeply shaded areas of your yard that will be colder in the winter.

I hope you are continuing to enjoy these blog posts as time goes on. Please don’t hesitate to share anything I’ve brought up that resonates with you and invite others to subscribe to our Mailing List on our website.

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

Avocado Tree Adoption
July 1, 2019

Although I mentioned in a previous blog that my focus would be shifting away from avocados until harvest season, some of you expressed interest in adopting your own avocado trees. Imagine how thrilled I was to learn that others also wanted to add an avocado tree (or two) to their landscape. So I reached out to a couple of nurseries that had Hass and Brogdon avocado trees respectively.

Green Jungle Nursery located in Orlando had 3-gallon Hass avocado trees about 2 1/2 feet tall.  Hass avocado trees are an A variety pollinator.

Nick’s Edibles located in Saint Cloud had 3-gallon Brogdon avocado trees about the same size as Green Jungle nursery. They are a B variety pollinator.

Initially, I had only received requests for Hass avocado trees. However, I encouraged those who wanted greater production from their trees to plant both Hass and Brogdon avocado trees. Doing so would be a perfect combination because when planted together, they complement each other and result in heavier production of avocados. I ended up purchasing 20 avocado trees total to adopt out.

Below are photos of some of the adopted trees and their new owners. Once the trees get planted, I look forward to following up on how the they are doing.

If you are interested in planting your own avocado tree, I have come up with the following instructions:

1.            Plant slightly above grade (an inch or two) especially if you have a wet area where water stands. Avocado trees cannot tolerate the roots staying wet all the time. No need to supplement the site with compost or other dirt you buy. Native dirt at the site is best.
2.            Make a dirt berm around the tree about a foot or so out from the tree so you can fill it with water at least once a day for the first 2-3 weeks especially until the daily rains start. Then 2-3 times per week for another month or two and then 1 time per week for the rest of the year, more if there is no rain. Reduce watering in the winter. No fertilizer for the first 30 to 60 days. Avocado fertilizer from Home Depot after that is fine, once a quarter but not in the Winter.
3.            Put a layer of natural mulch (not synthetic or dyed) over the ground around tree but not touching the trunk to avoid rot on the trunk. This keeps moisture in the ground and weeds down.
4.            Plant in a sunny area (at least Sun exposure 60 % of the day). Plant cold tolerant “Mexican” or “Mexican/Guatemalan”  type avocado trees if you experience freezing  winter temperatures in your area. Larger Florida type avocado trees are less cold tolerant.

Should you have any questions regarding the planting process or avocado tree varieties, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Remember, if someone you know may be interested in learning more about fruit trees or other health related topics, I invite you to share these emails with them or ask them to reach out to me and we will add them to our mailing list.

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

Lychee Tree Nuts
June 3, 2019

Now that I have featured several posts on avocados, I thought you all might be interested in learning about another fruit. While I am very passionate about avocados and their health-related benefits, my yard is full of other fruit, citrus and some other more exotic trees.

Lychee tree nuts are packed with vitamin c, antioxidants, and other health benefits. If you want to know more, this blog will spotlight the Lychee tree.

According to Lychees Online, the fruit has more vitamin c than the same amount of oranges or lemons, a significant amount of potassium and as much fiber as an apple. Lychee also contains quercetin, a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties, and cancer-fighting heart-healthy kaempferol.

Where did the Lychee tree nut originate? China is actually the main producer of Lychees, followed by India, other countries in Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and South Africa.

Pictured below is my own personal Lychee tree. I planted this one in my yard about ten years ago.

A tall evergreen tree, the Lychee bears small fleshy fruits. The outside of the fruit is pink-red, roughly textured and inedible.  You may be wondering about the flavor. Lychee flesh is sweet and can be found in many different dessert dishes. Those of you with a sweet tooth would probably especially enjoy Lychee.

Let’s talk about appearance. These particular fruits vary in shape from round to oval to heart-shaped. They range from about five centimeters long and four centimeters wide in size. Similar to some avocado varieties, Lychee skin is thin, tough and green when immature. Then once ripened, the skin turns red or pink-red. At harvest, Lychee skin texture is smooth or covered with small sharp bumps.

I’ve included a closer look at my Lychee tree that is in season, here. It is pretty full. You can see the abundance of produce and just how bright the fruits are. Some might say their appearance resembles a raspberry.

In case you were wondering, raw Lychee fruit is 82% water, 17% carbohydrates, 1% protein, and contains negligible fat.

As I previously mentioned, the raw pulp is rich in vitamin c, having 72 mg per 100 grams – an amount representing 86% of the daily value!

Perhaps you are interested in planting your own Lychee tree. I would recommend the following steps to help ensure successful growth:

  • Water twice a week
  •  Fertilize quarterly except for the winter
  • Add mulch around the tree out to the drip line and not up against the trunk (Holds in moisture & nutrients and keeps out the weeds)

Should you have any questions or comments about Lychees, please send them my way. Remember, if someone you know may be interested in learning more about fruits, like the Lychee, or other health related topics, I invite you to share these emails with them or ask them to reach out to me and we will add them to our mailing list.

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

Another Avocado Update
May 9, 2019

I know I said in my last blog that I would be moving on to topics other than avocados, but I couldn’t help myself. I had to show some of the fruit starting to grow on about half of my avocado trees. In my last blog, I shared pictures showing growth of my Lula, Choquette, Hass, and Oro Negro avocado trees. Most of these will have mature fruit this Fall. I promise, this will likely be my last blog on avocados until they start producing in the Fall. Don’t worry, I have other fruit trees to share in the coming weeks. With summer quickly approaching, I look forward to featuring my mango, citrus and some other more exotic trees.

Below, are photos of my Lula, Choquette, Hass, Oro Negro, Donnie, Fuerte, and Simmonds trees with immature avocados. So only seven of my 15 avocado trees have any avocados on them. But 13 of the trees have been planted for less than a year. My hope is to have a sizable crop of mature avocados in the Fall. Patience is key during seasons of growth.

Lula avocados are pear shaped and known for their high oil content. This variety originated in South Florida.

Choquette avocados aren’t currently in season. Although as you can see by the photo, my tree has some small fruit growing nicely. I look forward to seeing harvest in October through December.

Hass avocados (pictured above) are recognized as the most commercially popular avocado worldwide. In the United States alone, Hass avocados account for more than 80% of the avocado market.

What’s in a name? When translated to English, Oro Negro means black gold. Given it’s dark exterior and golden flesh, the name is very fitting if you ask me.

Donnie avocados are West Indian, meaning they are cold sensitive. Based on the photo above, you can see some small avocados developing. Typically, Donnie are medium size avocados with smooth, green skin.

The lone Fuerte avocado in this photo was a difficult tree to find. Once harvested, Fuerte avocados range from six to twelve ounces in size. Flavor wise, it is creamy, and features notes of hazelnut. Fuerte was the number one avocado in California prior to being overtaken by the Hass.

Did you know, Simmonds avocados are one of South Florida’s most popular varieties? Mature Simmonds avocados are large and range from 16 to 24 ounces. This is what you see in Publix as the “Florida or Green avocado.”

Please feel free to keep your avocado related questions and comments coming. If someone you know may be interested in learning more about avocados or other health related topics, I invite you to share these emails with them or ask them to reach out to me and we will add them to our mailing list.

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

Avocado Tree Growth
April 10, 2019

Those of you who are not yet tired of my avocado focus as of late, are in luck. I wanted to add a bit more. For anyone interested in planting your own avocado trees, I thought I would provide a visual update featuring some from my personal landscape.

As I previously mentioned, Lula avocados are a great option for Florida landscapes as they have a long harvesting season. Most harvesting occurs between October and February.

Also pictured, my Choquette avocado tree is known for producing large fruits. When in season and properly cared for, you can anticipate avocados that can weigh up to three pounds. The photo (left) shows just how large this particular avocado typically grows.

Back in December, I mentioned that you are likely to find Hass avocados at the grocery store. Remember, the Hass is the smaller, higher oil content variety most people like. There is a level of convenience that comes with planting a Hass avocado tree at home. Once planted from a nursery or garden center, your grafted tree should begin to produce a crop after three or four years, or less depending the care given. Recently, I have found a nursery in Orlando that said they expect a shipment of Hass avocado trees within the next three weeks. I plan to check them out and will be happy to let anyone interested know if they look good.

The Oro Negro variety experiences peak production between November and January. Compared to Choquette avocados, these are smaller in weight and diameter and higher in oil content.

While the images you see here were taken only a matter of months apart, you can see how quickly each tree will grow if properly cared for. After all, an avocado a day keeps the doctor away!

If someone you know may be interested in learning more about avocados or other health related topics, I invite you to share these emails with them or ask them to reach out to me and we will add them to our mailing list.

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

Planting Your Avocado Tree
March 18, 2019

In my last post, I talked about selecting the right variety of avocado for your landscape depending on the cold hardiness needed and the oil content desired among other things, as well as making sure that you choose your grafted avocado tree from a reputable nursery.

Once you have selected your tree, probably the most important next step is making sure you plant your avocado tree properly in your landscape. Your cold sensitive avocado trees should typically be planted in the southern exposure of your yard and preferably shielded from strong winds by your home or other structure. Avocado trees are easily damaged by high winds. Most avocado trees also prefer full sunlight where they produce better crops.

You should avoid planting in low lying areas that are subject to any type of flooding or have a very high-water table as avocado trees are very susceptible to root disease in poorly drained soils. To avoid this, you can plant your avocado tree on a raised mound using native soil 2 to 4 feet high by 4 to 6 feet in diameter.

Make sure not to plant your avocado tree below ground level as this will result in potential root disease. Because the tree will tend to settle after planting it, you should plant it 2 to 3 inches above grade even if you are not mounding it.

You should not add fertilizer, compost or other additives to the soil when you plant your tree. Just reuse the native soil and add some mulch not touching the trunk but about 2 feet out from around the trunk to keep weeds down and moisture in.

You should water your newly planted tree about every other day for the first week or two and then about twice per week for the first couple of years unless you are in the rainy season. I tend to water my trees now that they are established about once a week unless there is an extended dry period.

Again, do not fertilize your tree when newly planted, but after a month or two fertilize every other month for the first year and then about three times per year after that, in the Spring, Summer and Fall. Do not fertilize in the Winter when most avocado trees will be more dormant.

I know this all sounds somewhat technical, but it is so important to start your avocado tree off right to avoid later issues. For those of you who are serious about planting an avocado tree or two, I highly recommend the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension article “Avocado Growing in the Florida Home Landscape”

I would be curious to hear from any of you who may be planning on purchasing and planting a new avocado tree this Spring.

If someone you know may be interested in learning more about avocados or other health related topics, I invite you to share these emails with them or ask them to reach out to me and we will add them to our mailing list.

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

Selecting Avocado Trees
March 1, 2019

I know it’s been a few weeks since my last Healthy Lawyer email. Please forgive the delay.

We have had an unusually warm winter and my avocado trees have been growing nicely even through the winter when they are typically dormant. I wanted to give some input and ideas for those of you who may be considering planting an avocado tree or two come spring.

First, whatever you do, I would recommend that you plant a healthy grafted avocado tree rather than try to grow something from an avocado seed. It can take anywhere from 8 to 12 years to see any fruit when you plant from a seed. They say it typically takes 2 to 4 years to start getting fruit when you plant a healthy grafted avocado tree.

I say healthy because in my desperation for a specific variety of avocado tree I purchased a root bound Fuerte avocado tree from a nursery I had never dealt with before and the tree has struggled. It’s a little embarrassing but I may devote an entire email to that at some point to help you all avoid that same mistake.

Remember, there are three races of avocado trees, Mexican, Guatemalan and West Indian. The two primary varieties of avocados you see in the grocery store are the Florida Simmonds avocado (West Indian) or the California Hass avocado (Mexican/Guatemalan hybrid). The Hass is the smaller higher oil content avocado that most people prefer. Remember, that is a very healthy monounsaturated oil.

We are in climate zone 9B in Central Florida which means we can get well below freezing in the winter. For those of you living north and west of downtown Orlando, especially out in the country where it gets colder in the winter, I would recommend a Mexican variety avocado. That’s because the Mexican varieties can handle temperatures down into the low 20s once they are established. Some options are the Mexicola, Joey and Brogdon, which is a cold tolerant complex hybrid.

If you live closer to downtown where there is a lot of asphalt and concrete which tends to hold the heat and keep things a bit warmer in the winter, or if you live on a lake and have what they call a micro-climate which keeps things a bit warmer, I might recommend a West Indian type avocado like the Simmonds, Choquette, or Russell.

Then of course you have the Guatemalan type avocados which are also very good and are somewhere in between the Mexican and West Indian avocados in cold hardiness.

Finally, there are many hybrids that combine these three different races of avocados creating many different shapes, sizes, textures and flavors.

Most people don’t know this but there are more than 500 different varieties of avocados worldwide. But there are probably less than a dozen avocados that are sold commercially and the Hass avocado controls about 80% of the world avocado market.

I would suggest that you contact a reputable nursery and find out what varieties of avocados they sell and ask a lot of questions of someone knowledgeable about avocados.

Because selecting the type of avocado tree or trees you will purchase is only the first step, I will talk about how to plant and care for your new avocado tree or enhance your existing one in my next Healthy Lawyer installment.

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

Let’s Make Guacamole!
January 28, 2019

I hope everyone enjoyed my last Healthy Lawyer blog on the amazing health benefits of the avocado as a “Superfood.” If you missed it or the first two blogs you can sign up for our Mailing List below.

I know everyone loves guacamole and it’s a great way to enjoy lots of avocado. So I’ve included my wife’s recipe for guacamole and some pictures below of the ingredients and the final product.

Depending on how much guacamole you want to make, use four to six smaller Hass type avocados or two or three larger Florida type avocados.

Add the following according to taste:

About 1/4 chopped onion
One diced tomato
Fresh cilantro
Minced or fresh garlic
Juice from one or more whole limes
Salt and pepper
Hot sauce if you want to add some kick
I sometimes add a touch of olive oil

Other ideas include putting avocado slices on your toast in the mornings. The go to for most people is adding avocado to their salad, which we learned last time makes the healthy nutrients of the salad about five times more bio-available to your body.

Finally, I recently ran across a recipe for making chocolate mousse with avocado rather than heavy whipping cream as a healthier alternative. It’s simple: 2 large ripe avocados, 3 to 4 tablespoons of honey, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 50 g of raw cacao powder (or powdered bakers’ chocolate.)

It would be fun to hear some of your recipes and how you include avocados in your diet.


Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

An Avocado A Day…
January 4, 2019

This is the third installment of my “Healthy Lawyer” series. In this segment, I am going to focus on the nutritional and health benefits of the avocado. My only disclaimer is that I am not a doctor, so I can’t give medical advice.

The avocado is considered a “super food” that is not only packed with numerous vitamins and nutrients, but it also helps reduce blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol, helps to prevent cancer and can help you lose weight. What more can you say?

Avocados contain all of the B vitamins except for B 12 that you get from animal protein. They offer more potassium than bananas, more pectin than apples and more carotenoid lutein than any other fruit, which protects against macular degeneration and cataracts.

Sometimes avocados get a bad rap for having a high fat content which averages about 20 times more than any other fruit. However, avocado oil contains mostly health promoting monounsaturated fats, especially oleic acid. And avocado fat increases the absorption and conversion of healthy nutrients from low fat vegetables up to five times greater. I encourage you to add an avocado to your healthy salad and reap even greater benefits.

Avocados are filled with antioxidants and are also anti-inflammatory which helps reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. They are high in magnesium and numerous micro nutrients and have high levels of folate which is essential for prevention of birth defects, is heart healthy and helps reduce the risk of stroke.

I hope this hasn’t been too technical. As you can tell, I believe in the health benefits of avocados. A client recently sent me a very good health related avocado article. If you are interested, I have included a link below.

In conclusion, I would say we should replace “An apple a day …” with “An avocado a day keeps the doctor away.”

If someone you know may be interested in learning more about avocados or other health related topics, I invite you to share these emails with them or ask them to reach out to me and we will add them to our mailing list.

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

Hass and Lula Avocados
December 6, 2018

I was so surprised and encouraged by the number of messages I personally received in response to my first healthy lawyer email. I want to thank everyone who sent me those kind words as they have motivated me to continue sharing my journey with all who are interested.

Since my introduction, I have added a Myers Lemon tree to my landscape. I will get to this one and my other fruit trees later. However, to continue with the “avocado man” theme, I thought I might start this blog with the first two avocado trees I planted some years ago, and then each week add a spotlight on a new avocado tree that I planted this year.

My first two avocado trees were a Hass which is a Mexican/Guatemalan Hybrid and a Lula which is a Guatemalan cultivar. The Hass avocado tree is currently producing with the first full crop of avocados. I don’t have much to report on my Lula as it is not in season and has no avocados currently. My other 13 avocado trees are all less than a year old, but all are doing well and should be in production within the next couple of years. Yes, it is my goal to be overrun with avocados in the next few years so that I can share them with all my friends, family and colleagues.

Just to give you a quick tutorial on avocado trees, there are three “races” of avocado trees: Mexican, Guatemalan and West Indian. The Mexican are the most cold tolerant while the West Indian are the least cold tolerant. The Guatemalan fall in the middle. Avocado trees are for the most part self-pollinating and are type “A” and type “B”. From what I’ve read, you will get better production from your trees if you have at least one of each types of trees, “A” and “B” in your yard.

The only two types of avocados you can generally get in the grocery store are the Hass which is the smaller higher oil content variety most people like and the Simmonds, which is the larger green “Florida” avocado. It is lower in calories, but also lower in oil content and so less flavorful. Avocados contain a healthy type of oil that studies show actually helps you lose weight.

I think it is so cool to be able to grow so many different varieties of avocados that you cannot get in the grocery store. I will share with you some of these less well-known avocados in future emails as well as how to successfully plant them and care for them in your landscape.

Sorry this email has focused so much on avocados, but of course they are a passion of mine. They are also a very healthy food and should be included in your diet if you enjoy them.  There are lots of YouTube videos and articles online for anyone wanting to educate themselves on the joy of planting and harvesting your own avocados.

If someone you know may be interested in learning more about avocados or other health related topics, I invite you to share these emails with them or ask them to reach out to me and we will add them to our mailing list.

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

The Healthy Lawyer: An Introduction
November 9, 2018

Friends/Former Clients/Colleagues,

I think most of you are aware that I have been on a journey over the last three years to get in better shape, eat and live healthier, lose weight and enjoy life more. Thus, I have decided to share part of my journey with all who may want to learn more about some of the insights I have gleaned.

Several of you have even started calling me the “avocado man” given my apparent obsession with avocado trees. Yes, I have planted 15 avocado trees in my landscape, 14 of which are diverse varieties producing at different times of the year. It is my goal ultimately to have avocados producing year-round and it may even be true that I track all the progress on a spreadsheet. I look forward to sharing the produce with my avocado loving friends.

You may be wondering what inspired me to adopt a healthier lifestyle?

It all started with my wife reading a book called Wheat Belly written by William Davis. In the text, Davis describes the importance of eliminating wheat from our diets, as well as the potential benefits of doing so. Suddenly, we felt convicted to make changes, including eating less bread and packaged foods. Wheat Belly was the first of many health-related reads for us. Our increased knowledge led us to setting up three Tower Gardens (pictured below) to grow our own organic vegetables in the back-patio area of our home. Since avocados are a “healthy fat”, it led me to cultivating not only more avocado trees, but I also now have a total of 46 different fruit bearing trees in our yard.

The Healthy Lawyer: An Introduction

At this point, I have lost about 45 pounds and work out somewhat regularly, including in the yard obviously, walking/running around the lake and lifting weights.

If anyone is interested, I will drill down on this on a biweekly basis and talk about multiple aspects of healthy living and working. And of course, for me this will include my fruit trees and how you too can grow your urban/suburban landscape.

Have a healthy, happy and prosperous week ahead.

Thomas D. Marks, Esquire

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