If you’re looking for a free houseplant or a project for children, try growing an avocado tree.

A couple of things: Eat an avocado and the plant is free. Next, don’t get your hopes up: In Maine you will probably never produce an avocado on your tree.

The first step is to free the pit from the delicious avocado flesh, scrubbing away any flesh left on the pit. Taking a tiny slice off the top and bottom of the pit speeds the process, but is not required.

The most visually pleasing method of sprouting the seed is to stick four toothpicks into the pit halfway between the top, pointy end and the bottom, flatter end. Using the toothpicks to support the pit, place the pit into a glass of water, so the bottom quarter of the pit is covered with water.

Place the glass in a warm, bright area but not in direct sun. Change the water every other day, and in about three to six weeks you should see the pit crack, and then roots coming out of the bottom and a sprout at the top.

You also can wrap the pit in a damp paper towel or plant it directly in soil, but then you don’t get to see the process.

Some pits won’t sprout, so you might want to try several. If you don’t see sprouts after three months, give up on that one and try again.

When the sprout is about 8 inches tall, snip off leaves on the top of the plant so the plant will sprout more branches. Fill a 10-inch pot (one with drainage holes) with good potting mix and place a plant saucer under the pot. Create a hole and plant the pit so it is half-covered by potting mix.

Place the tree in a sunny window. Excess watering will kill it, so water infrequently but heavily. Water until excess comes out of the drain holes. Remove the water from the saucer and let the soil get dry before you water again.

Fertilize the tree with liquid fertilizer every other week in spring and summer and once every six weeks in winter.

Then sit back and enjoy your free plant.