Anyone who's ever eaten an avocado and then got bored has tried it. Grow your own avocado they say, it's easy they say. Simply perforate it in as medieval a fashion as possible and dangle it above some tepid water forever until roots appear. I can't speak for everyone, but whenever I've tried this I just end up staring at a mouldy nut for about 3 months and then throwing it in the bin.
But there is another way, people – my friend told me about it when he came across it by accident. Simply half-bury your avocado seed in some soil with the pointy end facing upwards, water it and leave it alone. Provided your pot is indoors and in the sun, you can't lose.
It can be tricky working out how much watering is too much, especially if nothing seems to be happening. If you're not sure, my trick is to simply stick your seeds into the surrounding soil of an existing house plant – that way the seed just soaks up the excess.
You should make sure your pot has a little sand mixed in. A lot of heat‐loving plants hate sitting in water. The ‘stick the seed in and leave it’ method also works for lemons and other citrus fruits (lemons are pretty easy to get going!), and really any Mediterranean tree you fancy growing from seed.
Another tropical vegetable is the bell pepper. These plants have seeds all over the place, but they're fussy. To grow them, you need a little humidity (water content in the air surrounding it) and heat.
You’ll need to create a greenhouse effect to get them started. Place your seeds into a pot of soil, then simply seal in the moisture with a little clingfilm. This lets the light in without drying out the pot! Place it in the sun to germinate. Once they're sprouted, they just need the sunshine and regular watering.
Finally, my latest experiment is growing peanuts. Hopefully it goes without saying that salted and roasted nuts aren't much good for growing! You need ones that are still in their shells (monkey nuts). If you're struggling, bird food is usually a good place to look.
Once you've acquired some, you need to crack open the shells and look for smooth, un-wizened looking ones ‐ these'll be your growers. Humidity is key again, but this time you'll need a sealable plastic pouch. Simply pop the nuts in with some wet loo‐roll, and place over something warm, but not hot – over the top of clothes drying on a radiator is perfect!
Once they've started growing, simply place them in some sandy soil and leave in the sunshine! All these plants can grow outside in the warmer months (from May onwards, really), but aren't too happy about frost!