The Healthy Lawyer

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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.

Enjoy.

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.

https://realfarmacy.com/daily-avocado/

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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