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possibilities of growing grapes on a large hugelkultur bed and were would you situate them

 
jordan den bak
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hi all awsome people on here! I am trying to get some ideas planed out for when i join the homesteading community. I will hopefully be able to set up my homestead in Ontario I would like to plant some fruit trees not native to Ontario such as oranges, grapefruit and some variates of grapes from Italy or the like . I was wondering if in some way that the hugelkultur could be used in such a way to enable me to grow these varieties . I consider my self a passionate greenhorn and will take any info you have to offer thank you guys and gals for your time .

 
Rebecca Norman
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What's your idea about citrus in ontario? Greenhouses?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau, Jordan. To grow citrus trees in your climate you will need to put them in a green house or conservatory (fancy name for a fancy green house) which will need to have a heat source for winter survival of these trees.

Grapes for your area will need to be selected from varieties that grow in your latitude, otherwise you will need to again house them during winter so they will survive. There are lots of good varieties from Germany, France etc. as well as the Italian ones.
 
jordan den bak
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thank you for fed back. I will most probably need to find the dwarf variety of trees if i were to plant them in a green house or be very avid on spacing and tree and pruning hight. I guess the reason i thought up this question was if it were possible to grow these tropical trees in southern Ontario between 2 hugelkultur beds and used the one side as a solar gain( putting rocks along the one side of the bed keeping the top and opposition side to plant veggies other such things,) to heat them passively in the winter I would then use this also for grapes . I will probably need to cover them in the winter months as temperatures can fluctuate i will have to develop this idea some more .

thank you so much again for the feed back so quick

 
Michael Cox
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Jordan - I don't know what your climate is like, but I guess from your description that you are trying to stretch the usual comfort zones of these plants? In that case variety selection is probably more important than how they are planted. There is a lot of variation in climate tolerance and what one grape variety might thrive on another may never set fruit.

From a permies perspective grapes can be grown successfully on the south side of trees so that they can climb up into them for light. A good scaffold is important. Additionally, you don't want to plant trees and perennials like grapes on ground that will settle and shift, lest the roots move. As hugel beds age the wood breaks down and they drop considerably. If you want the trees to get benefits from the hugel beds I'd plant them beside the bed so that feeder roots can grow into them.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Jordan, there are lots of great dwarf citrus varieties that work well in green houses, most will remain short enough (10 ft.) that you won't have to worry a lot about pruning for height. Hugels are good for lots of things but not particularly suited for trees. As mentioned by Michael, hugels settle, that is just the nature of the beast and trees don't respond well to such movements of their root systems. I plant trees just away from the actual hugel mounds, that way when they settle, they are not shifting the root system of the trees but the trees get the water holding benefits of the mounds.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Okay, since I'm also scheming on planting some citrus in greenhouses here, please forgive me sort of hijacking one corner of this thread.

Well, to be a little on topic, I'll tell you about our grapes. Grapes do grow a bit down from here, but not outdoors at this elevation. We've had some grape vines in the seasonally attached greenhouses that heat our buildings. They've thrived for about 15 years. They are green seedless grapes, and taste nice. They are in the ground inside the greenhouse, and climb up strings on the front of the building inside the two-storey greenhouse. The greenhouses are attached in October or November after a few weeks of frosty nights, and they are removed in May. One year we removed the greenhouse too early, got a hard frost, and all those tender green grape leaves turned back and crispy. And then they resprouted, and after a month you wouldn't know anything had happened.

Since the roads to our region close for the entire winter because of snow on the passes, we don't get any fresh fruit in the winter. All winter. Only whatever friends bring in their luggage on the plane. So I've been fantasising about growing some citrus. Maybe in the greenhouse, or maybe in a large container that can be moved seasonally.

Our greenhouses do go down a few degrees below freezing at night for two months, which is fine for grapes, leafy greens, some herbs, and perennial ornamentals. We also have some sunny spots indoors that don't go down to freezing at all, so a moveable container is another possibility.

From what I read, Meyer lemons can take a few degrees of frost and are available in dwarfing sizes. Would that be the best bet? I haven't heard of them in India, though. I planted several seeds of limes (called lemons in India but I'm pretty sure they're limes) but anyway, none sprouted so that's a bust. I got one lime plant with difficulty from Delhi -- carried it as hand baggage on the plane, and stirred up quite a discussion among the security folks, about whether a thorny plant is permissible. But anyway it didn't survive.

And if I grow a lime in the ground in a greenhouse, can I prune it to keep it a bit sort of flat up against the wall and not going all thorny and bushy all over the place? Sort of espalier? My attached greenhouse is a favorite winter space.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau, Rebbecca, Yes, Espalier will work well with citrus trees, the Meyer Lemon is a good choice for your area. There are some dwarf grapefruits that could survive if you Espalier them too. One way to help keep these alive when the temp gets really low would be to build some extra thermal mass in your green house, or perhaps build a rocket mass heater close to the trees. It's all about keeping them from freezing, in Florida and California when the growers know a freeze is coming they spray the trees with a fine mist of water, this freezes quickly and encases the branches which protects them from freezing, you might be able to do something like that for those two months. If the temp comes up during the day, you would have to repeat the treatment as the temp dropped so that might not be the best solution for your situation. As always, when it comes to fruit growing, where there is a will, there will be a way found by the grower.
 
Matthew McCoul
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If your Ontario is anything like my Michigan, those poor citrus are going to get slammed in the -20f (-29c) lows we can get sometimes.

I've seen designs for a greenhouse that used hugelkultur beds as walls, though. Planted cold crops on the outer slope, warm crops on the inner slope, dwarf trees in the valley between.

Sounds like it could work for you
 
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