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Tropical fruit in the Pacific Northwest?  RSS feed

 
Kimberly Wolfe
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Location: Seattle, United States
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You think I'd be able to grow some tropical fruit trees in the year-round solar Greenhouse in the Pacific Northwest? Even though we don't have as many sunny days?
 
Nicole Alderman
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I would think it would depend on the tropical fruit. We could probably get away with growing tropical plants that live in the understory: coffee trees, turmeric, vanilla, chocolate, etc. Those that live in the full sun probably wouldn't fruit for us unless we supplemented lighting... Here's some sites with shade loving tropical plants: http://permaculturenews.org/2016/02/19/made-in-the-shade-tropical-trees-and-plants-that-aint-starving-for-the-limes-light/ and https://www.klru.org/ctg/resource/tropical-edibles/. I do know coffee trees will merrily fruit indoors (my mother-in-law has one in her living room), but I don't have any experience with the others. What tropical fruit are you looking at?
 
Daron Williams
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Location: Olympia, WA - Zone 8a/b
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Kimberly Wolfe wrote:You think I'd be able to grow some tropical fruit trees in the year-round solar Greenhouse in the Pacific Northwest? Even though we don't have as many sunny days?


Over in Spokane Washington a community college has a banana tree that produces each year - not a lot but some. They do heat the greenhouse that the banana tree is in but I don't think they used any artificial light for it. Spokane gets a fair bit more sun than the west side of the state but I'm not sure if the difference would be enough to make it not work in the west side area. As far as the heating question goes I'm sure you could keep a greenhouse warm enough on the west side - it gets a lot colder in Spokane.

I live just outside of Olympia and I have been thinking about growing turmeric in a greenhouse - seems like that would be fairly easy with some sites claiming it is hardy down to 7b though other sites say it needs warmer temps. But I think on the west side of the PNW it would not be hard to grow it in a greenhouse and who knows perhaps even outdoors!

I have also thought about growing moringa in a greenhouse since it is viable in zone 9 and can be coppiced to keep it small.

Main point is that as Nicole said there are tropical plants you can grow in the PNW in regards to temperature but many take a fair bit more sunlight to fruit. Nice thing about root crops (turmeric) and leaf crops (moringa) is that they don't tend to be as dependent on light levels - might just take a bit longer to get a crop. If you have any success growing tropical plants here please share! It would be great to hear what works!
 
nancy sutton
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Try moringa... I got a 4" potted plant form Puerto Rico on eBay ... good price and it grew quite well.  Until I failed to see that it was drying out, and it became infested with white flies.  But, I think it would have survived in my mostly unheated greenhouse over the winter... and would have continued to grow ...like a weed   I'd realy like to be able to grow turmeric and ginger... hmmm.   I did have a potted Meyer lemon small tree that grew well, and fruited, for years, by dragging it into the greenhouse every winter.  I think it would have survived in a 'protected' south facing corner of the deck (got tired of dragging it in annually)... but, again, I think it was lack of water (out of sight, out of mind) that did it in.  (BTW, they're susceptible to scale, but wiping it off the branches with cotton gloves moistened with alcohol took care of that problem.)  I do have a pineapple guava and a yuzu that are still thriving in a 'corner'... but I think they need a warmer niche to fruit.
 
G Stone
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Location: Seattle, WA
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As others have mentioned, growing won't be a problem, but fruiting might be trickier for some plants.  I'm far from an expert and don't have a solar greenhouse, just a metal-frame-and-plastic thing I got on eBay, but I love the challenge of finding out what will actually grow here, and how well.

I've had great success with my potted Improved Meyer Lemon tree, and I get upwards of a dozen fruits a year now. I move it out of the greenhouse once it warms up; the bees and hummingbirds love it, and it fills the yard with its blossoms' sweet fragrance.  This success led me to try oranges, and I have seedlings coming up now.

I also have a ten year old coffee tree that I keep indoors through the winter.  It's growing slowly, but has yet to fruit. I think probably the house doesn't get enough light during the winter. 

Other tropicals that I have growing at the moment include turmeric, ginger, Hawaiian ti plant, plumeria, pineapple (which I actually got to fruit once), avocados, and mangoes.  I started over with the avocados and mangoes last year, as a deep cold snap took out my seven year old specimens of each a couple winters ago.  The little heater in the greenhouse just wasn't up to the task. 

I also have a small stand of ornamental bananas in the ground that have been thriving for a couple of years now.  I'm hoping this winter's prolonged freezes haven't gone too deep and killed it.  I've heard that others have had success with potted papaya and guava trees but I'm unsure about fruiting, and I've never gotten the seeds to germinate myself.
 
Mark Clipsham
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I visited Seattle about two years ago and was surprised to see eight foot tall artichoke plants, fig trees and gardenias that had bee hacked back because they had gotten overgrown among other things. I live in Iowa and am lucky to get fruit on my peach, apricot and apple trees every couple four years. be thankful for what you have - a little slice of paradise in my eyes. Tropical plants in a non-tropical area seems a little out of line with permie philosophy unless it can be done low impact/man made micro climate. Good luck
 
Daniel Zimmermann
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Location: Sacramento
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Tropical plants in a non-tropical area seems a little out of line with permie philosophy unless it can be done low impact/man made micro climate.


But in other ways it works quite well.  You are reducing the need to ship foods from long distances.  And you may be using an heirloom or uncommon variety.  The Cavendish banana is one of the most vulnerable and threatened fruits in the world, but there are hundreds, maybe thousands of varieties.  If a solar greenhouse lets us do that, then it's very permie.
 
nancy sutton
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Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
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BTW, I'm in a suburb south of Seattle, not far from the sound, so I get a lot of wind, and temperature moderation.  I really envy all you folks in the city, where you have wind protection and a huge heat sink in all the concrete and asphalt : )

G... I'm curious about how you grow your turmeric and ginger in Seattle... In your greenhouse, heated, in the winter?  outside in summer?  ??
 
Thyri Gullinvargr
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Mark Clipsham wrote:Tropical plants in a non-tropical area seems a little out of line with permie philosophy unless it can be done low impact/man made micro climate. Good luck


Have you seen this book The Forest Garden Greenhouse: How to Design and Manage an Indoor Permaculture Oasis? I admit I haven't had a chance to read it yet, although it's on my to-do list. From the blurb, near net-zero climate control costs are part of the concept.
 
Kimberly Wolfe
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Location: Seattle, United States
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Nicole Alderman wrote:I would think it would depend on the tropical fruit. We could probably get away with growing tropical plants that live in the understory: coffee trees, turmeric, vanilla, chocolate, etc. Those that live in the full sun probably wouldn't fruit for us unless we supplemented lighting... Here's some sites with shade loving tropical plants: http://permaculturenews.org/2016/02/19/made-in-the-shade-tropical-trees-and-plants-that-aint-starving-for-the-limes-light/ and https://www.klru.org/ctg/resource/tropical-edibles/. I do know coffee trees will merrily fruit indoors (my mother-in-law has one in her living room), but I don't have any experience with the others. What tropical fruit are you looking at?


Thanks so much for the link. I'll check it out. I'm not really going for commercial use or any extensive capacity. I just want a few different things for my own consumption, so I don't have to pay exorbitant prices at the store, and just for the fun of it. Here are some things I would love to try:
Paw Paw
Jujube
Lemon
Satsuma orange
Ginger
Tumeric
Avocado
Cocoa
Moringa
Pineapple
Mango
Seaberry
Mulberry
and a few others which elude me at the moment.   I'd only want 1 or 2 of each - not a whole orchard or anything like that.


 
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