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zone pushing or "that won't grow here!"

 
gardener
Posts: 898
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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One of my hobbies is zone pushing (IE growing things where they would not be normally expected to grow.)

I live where winter temperatures can get down close to 10F (-12C) for a handful of nights.
We get ice storms, occasional light snows.

Nevertheless, I am currently growing citrus trees, various palms including one that will make edible fruit (pindo)
cannas (edible) , hardy banana varieties,passion fruit, etc.

There are a number of permaculture techniques that are common to "zone pushing" such as microclimates, water retention,
seeking out unusual plant varieties,etc.


Any other folks here growing what they are "not supposed to" ?

 
pollinator
Posts: 3113
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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Boston, MA zone 6/7

I have passionfruit (maypop), citrus, pomegranate, and fig.
This year I am zone pushing with pineapple guava hopefully it will make it.
I trying to find a dwarf almond (8-12ft) that I can plant here.
 
pollinator
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Location: zone 7
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I love doing this too. One technique I like is selecting seed over the years. Localization basically. The first year a few thousand seeds might be planted yet only a few dozen survive.

I find certain plants or trees like a combination of local microclimate factors for the survival of the organism.

The best part is the faces of other people when they see a plant they know shouldn't be here.Or when they taste the unique flavor of a plant growing in a certain microclimate.
 
Cris Bessette
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Posts: 898
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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S Bengi wrote:Boston, MA zone 6/7

I have passionfruit (maypop), citrus, pomegranate, and fig.
This year I am zone pushing with pineapple guava hopefully it will make it.
I trying to find a dwarf almond (8-12ft) that I can plant here.



I also have pomegranate and some fig varieties.
Nut trees are something I am just starting to get into. Trying to start some hazelnuts from seed, planted some pecan trees this year.
 
S Bengi
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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Here is my garden.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjpWBJwPQ0nMdEpjV1AwcVJ0dGFZbnVpVEw0RlFQR0E
http://home.comcast.net/~beryluter/site/?/photos/

I also got some 9-star kale cuttings that I have indoor next year I am going to plant it inground and see if it survive.
 
Cris Bessette
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Posts: 898
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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Jordan Lowery wrote:I love doing this too. One technique I like is selecting seed over the years. Localization basically. The first year a few thousand seeds might be planted yet only a few dozen survive.

I find certain plants or trees like a combination of local microclimate factors for the survival of the organism.

The best part is the faces of other people when they see a plant they know shouldn't be here.Or when they taste the unique flavor of a plant growing in a certain microclimate.



I have two seed grown mandarin trees that are spending their second year in the ground. They froze almost to the ground last winter, but completely replaced the dead branches and leaves last summer. My theory is that maybe I could get them to grow as low "mandarin bushes" instead of trees.
(Though I've been planting mine in pots, letting them get a few years old THEN planting them outside. )

The area right in front of my house is my main "tropicalesque" area where tall banana plants rustle over over two small ponds, surrounded by cannas, hibiscus flowers, jasmine, gardenias, angel trumpets,windmill palms, palmettos, bamboo, fatsias, hardy citrus trees, elephant ears,etc.

I agree, the looks on the faces of other people. That is one of my favorite parts too.



 
Cris Bessette
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Posts: 898
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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S Bengi wrote:Here is my garden.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjpWBJwPQ0nMdEpjV1AwcVJ0dGFZbnVpVEw0RlFQR0E
http://home.comcast.net/~beryluter/site/?/photos/

I also got some 9-star kale cuttings that I have indoor next year I am going to plant it indoor and see if it survive.



Nice garden. Cute kiddos.

I would love to have as many varieties of things that you have.
 
Cris Bessette
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Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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Here is a year old video focusing on my hardy tropical type plants. It was taken in the fall, so the "jungle" is a bit subdued.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tQW0MJuCjw [/youtube]

(hmm.. youtube tags not working right..)

The banana plants this year were twice the size they are in the video from last year and I added another pond and a deck this year,
as well as dozens of new trees, bushes, flowers,etc.

 
S Bengi
pollinator
Posts: 3113
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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You probably could.
the back row is vines on the chainlink fence, so only 2ft wide
The next row is made up of 10ft tall trees at maturity,
Underneath the 10ft trees is ground cover like strawberry/cranberry and vegetables such as kale.
about 15feet from the chain link fence is the next row of 10ft tall trees such as juneberry/apricot.
infront of them ground cover flowers and herb.

How big is your yard.


I have root crop(0), ground cover(2inch), herb(1ft), shurb(3ft), tree(10ft), vines(0)
Not quite the 7 layers but close enough for me on a city lot.
I cant afford a canopy layer. I somehow manage to fit 5 different nut trees in it at 10ft where as nut trees are usually 30ft canopy trees.
 
Cris Bessette
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Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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S Bengi wrote:You probably could. How big is your yard.



Problem is not space, I have about 2 acres, the problem is not having the money in the budget!

I've been buying seeds for some "exotic" things and starting them at home, but that takes a good while compared to
buying young trees, bushes plants,etc.
 
gardener
Posts: 324
Location: North Fork, CA. USDA Zone 9a, Heat Zone 8, 37 degrees North, Sunset 7/9, elevation 2600 feet
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When I first moved to where I live now (in the sierra nevada foothills), I was told what I couldn't grow by many people. I live in a low zone 9a, which means I can grow more than others in my community who live in 8a and 8b. But, I am interested in zone pushing. I would like to hear more about the techniques used.

So far my mexicola avocado, calamondin lemon, litchi tomato, gotu kola, pindo palm, loquat, Aloe Vera, and Nopale Cactus have survived 23 degree nights with absolutely no sign of damage. Of course, with most of these that is to be expected. But some on that list are not suppose to be able to take that much cold. Eventually I want to have as many different edible and medicinal plant species as I can growing on my property. I am hoping to be self sustaining in ten years time, but I digress.

Any how, what techniques do you use to zone push? My only advantage here is that my property is mostly sloped, and it slopes to the west and south west. The only area that is flat (besides my driveway and parking spot) is where I will put fruit trees (and my food forest) that are susceptible to late frost in hopes that the cold are will flow down and settle there, preventing them from flowering too early. Does that make sense?
 
S Bengi
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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My trick is careful cultivar selection, mulch and know that I have to replace at least once every ten yrs
 
Cris Bessette
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Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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Steve Flanagan wrote:

Any how, what techniques do you use to zone push? My only advantage here is that my property is mostly sloped, and it slopes to the west and south west. The only area that is flat (besides my driveway and parking spot) is where I will put fruit trees (and my food forest) that are susceptible to late frost in hopes that the cold are will flow down and settle there, preventing them from flowering too early. Does that make sense?



I have a similar advantage in that my property is sloped to the South, and my house faces South.
From my observations of the actions of the frost the last few winters, there is a definite advantage to being on a raised slope.
lower areas frost first and heavier. When the sun comes up, it "defrosts" faster on the South facing slopes (lowering the total time things are covered in frost)

I'm assuming from what you wrote your intention is to keep your fruit trees dormant longer by purposely putting them on the lower flat area? That sounds like good reasoning to me.

My main zone pushing technique is using and creating microclimates. For instance, my most sensitive plants are planted directly in front of the house to take advantage of the
sun there, and to block Northern winds.
Also, I have dug two small ponds directly in front of the house that store sun heat and reflect it towards the house. There are numerous stones, boulders, rock walkways,etc. that help store heat from the day.

I have installed natural windbreaks to either side of the front of the house in the form of juniper bushes, pines pruned as bushes, a row of hardy bamboo, as well as interplanting tender plants with hardier plants.

I've found that simply blocking the wind helps a lot, as the combination of low temperatures combined with winds tend to dehydrate tender plants (such as citrus) and put more stress on them than cold alone.

When temps fall below 25F or so then I start putting plastic over some of the most tender things.

I have a South-facing greenhouse I built that is almost completely passive. The windows are only on the South,East,and West sides, the North side is solid wood. I excavated the floor of the greenhouse down to about 6-8 inches below the surrounding ground, this helps make use of the insulating properties of the Earth, and also the floor is covered with large, flat stones painted black. As a backup heat source, there are two 40w lamps in there that are turned on by a greenhouse thermostat when the inside temp falls to 32F.
The lights only come on very rarely.


I'm sure you've seen that hardiness rating of plants tends to change depending where you are reading about them.
For instance, on a Meyer lemon tree I just bought it says "30F" is the lowest they can take, yet have talked to a guy just recently that has seen his take 17F unprotected without damage.
This type of thing leads me to the opinion that hardiness ratings are not set in stone, and there are many variables more than minimum temperature.
 
Steve Flanagan
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Posts: 324
Location: North Fork, CA. USDA Zone 9a, Heat Zone 8, 37 degrees North, Sunset 7/9, elevation 2600 feet
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Cris Bessette wrote:
I'm assuming from what you wrote your intention is to keep your fruit trees dormant longer by purposely putting them on the lower flat area? That sounds like good reasoning to me.



That's exactly what I meant.
 
Steve Flanagan
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Location: North Fork, CA. USDA Zone 9a, Heat Zone 8, 37 degrees North, Sunset 7/9, elevation 2600 feet
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Cris Bessette wrote:
I'm sure you've seen that hardiness rating of plants tends to change depending where you are reading about them.
For instance, on a Meyer lemon tree I just bought it says "30F" is the lowest they can take, yet have talked to a guy just recently that has seen his take 17F unprotected without damage.
This type of thing leads me to the opinion that hardiness ratings are not set in stone, and there are many variables more than minimum temperature.



I'm beginning to learn that what you are saying is true.
 
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any updates from anyone on this topic?
 
pollinator
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Location: Upstate SC
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All of the literature says water chestnuts are only cold hardy to zone 9. Mine have overwintered fine outdoors here in zone 7 for the past two years in above ground plastic tubs filled with muck soil. I just harvest the corms in the fall and whatever corms get missed or left behind grow into next year's plants. I top dress the tubs with some sheep manure during the winter and then keep the tubs topped off with water throughout the growing season. A very low maintenance crop.
 
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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That's very encouraging, Mike. Do you ever sell or trade Water Chestnut corms? I would love to get some more - I was only able to purchase a tiny handful of expensive ones from a pond plant supplier.

 
Mike Turner
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You should have plenty by the fall. One corm can fill a child's wading pool filled with soil over the course of the summer. I haven't sold or traded any corms so far, but have given some to gardening relatives.
 
gardener
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Cris Bessette wrote:
One of my hobbies is zone pushing (IE growing things where they would not be normally expected to grow.)

I live where winter temperatures can get down close to 10F (-12C) for a handful of nights.
We get ice storms, occasional light snows.

Nevertheless, I am currently growing citrus trees, various palms including one that will make edible fruit (pindo)
cannas (edible) , hardy banana varieties,passion fruit, etc.



Chris, how is your pindo (jelly) palm doing?  Does it yet live and thrive?  Also curious if any of your hardy banana species are doing well for you.
 
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I planted 4 plants of the Asian or flat not astringent persimmon types a couple years ago.  We are in zone 5, but they are rated for zone 6. Only on the second year,  they grew from rootstock, so not yet sure if they will do that every year or not. Hopefully they were not grafted otherwise I might get a different persimmon type.
 
Cris Bessette
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Chris, how is your pindo (jelly) palm doing?  Does it yet live and thrive?  Also curious if any of your hardy banana species are doing well for you.



Sorry I missed when you posted this message!


weeell.... no. lol  No that has turned out to be one of the not so successful things I've tried.  Once every few years it gets down to 10F here in the winter and the pindo palm burns to the ground.
Right now it is about 2 feet tall after 6 years.  Musa Basjoo on the other hand is GREAT.  Obviously no edible fruit but they get 15 feet tall each summer, the next spring I chop them up and use
them as mulch, fiber for rope,etc.

I've bought an "ice cream" or blue Java banana that is hardy down to zone 8 reportedly.  I'm going to let it grow in a pot for a few years until there is enough mass (and possibly some pups)
to put outdoors as an experiment in getting edible fruit.  Probably will fail, but I'll try anyway.
 
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I have been spending a lot of time on YouTube, learning about how to grow many different tropical plants, in the environment they are already adapted to, 6.5 degrees from the equator.

Every time I see a title that looks promising, it's somebody from the US or Europe who is trying to grow that plant far outside of its natural range. So, instead of learning about best practices to get maximum yield, and how to deal with native pests and other things, I'm treated to stories about creating microclimates or greenhouses and many other steps that allow the plant to be grown as an ornamental and hopefully one day get a few pieces of half ripe fruit.

I wouldn't mind it so much if they put honest titles. But there's very seldom a disclaimer. If it said, How To Grow Bananas in Seattle, I would know that one's not for me. But instead they say things like, How To Grow Awwsome Bananas, despite the fact that this person is never going to grow an awesome banana.

I wish my computer had a slap button.
 
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Location: Fort Worth, TX 76179
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I like to push Citrus because people say I can't. Zone 8, North Texas.

This year (my 3rd winter messing with inground Citrus). I did more than just toss Plastic and lights over my babies.
Babies include: red grapefruit, kumkuat, mexican lime, Meyer lemon, cara cara, , blood orange, lemon grass, miho mandarin, and ice cream banana

on the side of the house not show are frost orange and arctic frost + a mandarin and extra Meyer lemon.






 
Posts: 38
Location: Puerto Rico
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I try to zone push in the opposite direction. They say you can't get berries in hot climates, but I've fruited raspberries, strawberries, mulberries, goji... This year, I'm trying for blackberries.

Pome and stone fruit may be tougher, haven't tried yet, but I know of people here who've fruited them. Figs do well here too. I tried Haskaps a few years back, with disastrous results, but I could've done a few things better (and picked better varieties).

I'm keen on trying for rose hips, but that's mainly for a breeding project. And speaking of zone-pushing breeding, I'll be trying to breed for tropical potatoes next year. I'm getting diploid, tetraploid and wild stock. Andigena, Phureja, Cardiophyllum and others. Gotta look for disease, pest, heat and humidity resistance.

As for other Andean Tubers... Mauka did better for me in the shade than in the sun. Mashua was a total loss. Oca and Ulluco surprised me with some decent growth, but I neglected them at a busy time, and lost them to a stem rot before they tuberized. I'll be trying Oca again real soon.
 
Cris Bessette
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Sara Rosenberg wrote:I like to push Citrus because people say I can't. Zone 8, North Texas.



That looks like a good setup.  That brick wall must suck up the winter sun!
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