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lemon trees in montana

 
author and steward
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I plan on emulating Sepp's work here.

I think that there are a lot of things where you can tell somebody about the benefits of hugelkultur or wofati or all sorts of things and they won't believe you. But if you then show them a picture of a lemon tree surrounded by snow and say "I ate lemons from my outdoor lemon tree in montana" then all manner of things become possible.

 
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paul wheaton wrote:I plan on emulating Sepp's work here.

I think that there are a lot of things where you can tell somebody about the benefits of hugelkultur or wofati or all sorts of things and they won't believe you. But if you then show them a picture of a lemon tree surrounded by snow and say "I ate lemons from my outdoor lemon tree in montana" then all manner of things become possible.



I'm really new to permaculture (but totally drinkin' the koolaid!) and I have to say... teach me how to grow my (now indoor) citrus trees north of Spokane! I imagine similar climate, right? I was planning on using the uphill patio of the Oehler/wofati house we're going to start building next year and topping it off with a greenhouse roof
 
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I am planning the same next year with design on going... only difference, mine will be outdoors from the get.

Pond with keyhole beds protruding from the north edge... dark rocks placed in the pond on the north edge preventing freezing... evergreens in a horseshoe pattern around the north side of pond creating heat trap and wind break... plant elevated zone trees in keyhole beds... develop guild to enhance growth... mulch over with dark material (wood mulch, lava rock, etc)... other ideas to beef up appreciated.
 
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in cheyenne, wy, there are some doubts about the possibilities, but i would definately like to get something going here that can do this sorta thing, and get a citrus growing here:D
 
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Paul, I just finished listening to podcast 201 where you were discussing this and If I may summerize the way I understood it..and ask a question.

OK, you mentioned a sunscoop with vertical walls on the n side of a deep non freezing pond, wofati type building with a roof sticking out about 1 foot..so it would have sun in winter and shade in summer.

OK, if that is correct, my question being, wouldn't you still have to irrigate it as the "roof" would keep the rain off the soil

I have a "situation" here where I have a south facing shallowish bank on the north side of my pond and I would consider trying to grow crops that needed more warmth in a situation like you described, but it is a long way from my house for me to attempt to irrigate..and a roof screams irrigation to me.
 
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Podcast 201 is not appearing in its right place right now, or I would have listened to it before commenting. Last night I mentioned Paul's plot to grow a lemon tree in Montana and my friend Randy suggested doing so near a hot springs. Wow! Good idea Randy. He also suggested a living overhang for a sort of insulation. I envision kiwi vines and grains. Possibly perennial cotton in the understory. Or a mix of plants that would, when killed above ground, rot in ground and cause a thermogenic reaction to combat severe heat draughts.
 
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I know the Japanese have a trick for doing this in that they graft citrus fruits on to the roots of a sour orange variety that naturally can survive down to -10 C . I would certainly increace Pauls chances if he could do that I suspect.

David
 
Bethany Dutch
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So has anyone tried doing this yet?
 
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Bethany Dutch wrote:So has anyone tried doing this yet?




I grow Satsuma mandarins, trifolate oranges here in North Georgia- little protection in winter.
The one lemon tree that I have experimentally planted in the ground gets mostly burnt each winter, despite protection methods I've used.
 
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I live in southern indiana, it'll get -10 degrees fahrenheit in the winter. My neighbor has some kind of wild citrus growing in his yard that he said was wild and had been there forever. He'd had someone from Purdue look at it and they said it was probably some kind of hybrid and weren't interested in it. It looks like a slightly fuzzy lemon and is mostly seeds, but the juice is definitely a sharp, kind of lemony flavored citrus. The tree had some impressive thorns also. I collected a few of the fruits a few years ago, but got busy and forgot about it because it was at least a few generations from being really useful. My neighbor died, but his granddaughter is living there now. If someone is interested, I'll see if I can get some volunteers or seeds, although it might take me at least a few months though.
 
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Mick Fisch wrote:I live in southern indiana, it'll get -10 degrees fahrenheit in the winter. My neighbor has some kind of wild citrus growing in his yard that he said was wild and had been there forever. He'd had someone from Purdue look at it and they said it was probably some kind of hybrid and weren't interested in it. It looks like a slightly fuzzy lemon and is mostly seeds, but the juice is definitely a sharp, kind of lemony flavored citrus. The tree had some impressive thorns also. I collected a few of the fruits a few years ago, but got busy and forgot about it because it was at least a few generations from being really useful. My neighbor died, but his granddaughter is living there now. If someone is interested, I'll see if I can get some volunteers or seeds, although it might take me at least a few months though.



probably poncirus trifoliata
 
Mick Fisch
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That looks like it. Darn, I was hoping it was something new.
 
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Well, just for giggles, I've got yuzu growing happily in a spot outdoors, sorta sheltered from the northerly wind, here in our 7-8 zone, gets down to 25F on short occasions.  No fruit yet... but it's only been ..? 2 or 3 years?  Also kept a Meyer Lemon growing and fruiting... and I think it would have done well w/o the winter stint in the greenhouse, if I'd just kept it watered in the overhung cozy corner of the deck, during the winter.  Must get another :)
 
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How is the lemon tree doing?   How many years is it before a lemon tree produces?
 
nancy sutton
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I think citrus can hardy, if their roots don't freeze.  The Meyer lemon in a large container lived for many years, and produced wonderfully fragrant flowers, and fruit.  Even leaving on the deck in the winter, it survived, if in a protected corner.  It finally croaked because I didn't monitor it's watering... think the 'drought' did it in.

The yuzu is growing well.  Both these are famous for taking cold weather spells.  I think they fruit fairly young.  Do some research... I think you'll be pleasantly surprised :)
 
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Anything new since the earthworks,  data on temperature readings throughout the year?
 
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Justin Gonzales wrote:Anything new since the earthworks,  data on temperature readings throughout the year?


I wish, Justin! We did earthworks, and have been cover cropping the VERY rocky soil there each year as we are able. It will take some time and some more care to be ready to grow the lemon tree.

Housing (the wofatis, plus insulating our two cabins, willow feeders, showers, etc.), ant village, earthworks for roads and hugelkultur berms at base camp, building rocket mass heaters (do we have 12 now?), junkpole fences and gates, and, you know, running an empire have made the lemon tree project take a back seat for now.

We're still looking for more people who might want to move here and take on projects like this.

 
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This is a really interesting article on the citrus growing industry in the former USSR. Many of those techniques are too labour intensive for paul ;-)

It is really cool to see how much they were growing. I wonder how much of the genetics is still available.

https://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2020/04/fruit-trenches-cultivating-subtropical-plants-in-freezing-temperatures.html
 
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Adrien Lapointe wrote:This is a really interesting article on the citrus growing industry in the former USSR. Many of those techniques are too labour intensive for paul ;-)

It is really cool to see how much they were growing. I wonder how much of the genetics is still available.

https://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2020/04/fruit-trenches-cultivating-subtropical-plants-in-freezing-temperatures.html



The really low growing one might work without to much work really.
 
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Stephen mentioned the lemon trees in Montana -project in his BRK thread so I went looking for info and found this thread. Really cool, I guess the project is still kind of on hold? Planting cover crops?

However, the arcticle Adrien had linked was super interesting:

Adrien Lapointe wrote:This is a really interesting article on the citrus growing industry in the former USSR.



Thank you for this! I think I’m going to make a trench like this, maybe not for citrus as I don’t think I can find seed from trees grown north enough, but maybe something else.. Chili plants maybe? Some other fruit tree that is not as tropical but also not able to handle the Finnish winter..?

I ofcourse need to dig some big holes to see what what there actually is below the surface of my field to see if this is actually doable but oooh I’m hopeful and exited!
 
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Saana Jalimauchi wrote:Stephen mentioned the lemon trees in Montana -project in his BRK thread so I went looking for info and found this thread. Really cool, I guess the project is still kind of on hold? Planting cover crops?



You might enjoy the thread on the sun scope from 2016:

Fred said, "Here's some photos of the berms at the lemon tree site. It is a sun scoop shape surrounded by an even bigger sun scoop. The soil is pretty rocky and has pretty much no organic matter. Mostly we seeded it with nitrogen fixers, ground covers, and weeds of all sorts in an effort to start building some good soil.

There hasn't been a lemon tree planted yet.



https://permies.com/t/berms#513670

 
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Hello everyone!

Would covering trenches at night or during cold spells be sufficient to prevent them from becoming frost pockets? I recall on one of Paul’s podcasts, the idea of using a frost trap trench of sorts up hill of an earthworks sun scoop to divert cold air around a growing cell on the inside of the sunscoop, was discussed. I wonder how combining trenches for growing citrus on the inside of such a sunscoop might help further block wind and frost from reaching crops planted therin. It does seem like a lot of work to cover and uncover the trenches constantly but if they could be incorporated into a greater earthworks system that could all be excavated at once, maybe they might not need to be so labor intensive.
 
Saana Jalimauchi
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Anne, thank you for the link!


Saana Jalimauchi wrote:I think I’m going to make a trench like this, maybe not for citrus as I don’t think I can find seed from trees grown north enough, but maybe something else.. Chili plants maybe? Some other fruit tree that is not as tropical but also not able to handle the Finnish winter..?



I read the article again with time and it was written that

This method cannot be applied to any plant. Citrus plants tolerate very low light levels for 3-4 months per year, provided that the temperature of the air in contact with the crown is maintained between 1 and 4 degrees Celsius.



and further research lead me to choosing satsumas as the tree I will try to grow, it is quite cold-hardy. Wikipedia told me that satsumas rarely have seeds so I guess I'm going to be eating a lot of satsumas for the time being..


..and if this wil not work, I can just fill the trench with wood and make a huge sunken hugelkultur.
 
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Saana, when you do this, please share in a project thread! I would love to see how it works for you!
 
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I've wondered if other species that go dormant in winter might work.  And even plants that can handle freezing but just not my level of freezing in Wisconsin. Like figs....
 
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Jane Mulberry wrote:Saana, when you do this, please share in a project thread!



Sure! Oh I can’t wait to tell about this idea to a person who kinda implied that I’m basicly just stupid for trying to grow apple trees from seeds.  

The look on his face might be priceless.
 
Adrien Lapointe
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Georgia Lenhart wrote:Would covering trenches at night or during cold spells be sufficient to prevent them from becoming frost pockets?



My understanding, and I read the article a while ago, is that covering the trenches helps keep the cold air out of the trench. My guess is that the ground temperature helps to keep the air temperature in the trench more moderate.


Mike Haasl wrote:I've wondered if other species that go dormant in winter might work.  And even plants that can handle freezing but just not my level of freezing in Wisconsin. Like figs....



I think it could work provided they could get enought light. I have experimented with figs in Canada, but I have not had much luck with getting fruits. I should probably write a post one day, but to stay on topic, what worked and would be similar to the trench idea is hilling. Basically, in the fall, I would lay on its side the tree in the pot and burry both adding lots of mulch on top, sometimes even full bags of leaves from nearby trees. It is a lot of work! I gave up last fall and just burried the pot. I am expecting the top to have died, but hopefully it regrows from the roots. We will see.
 
Mike Haasl
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Good point Adrien!  Surviving is one thing, producing fruit is another...
 
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