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Member Introductions This is the `tell us about yourself` category. Please make an introductory post here, let us know a little about yourself. A perfect place to break the ice.


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Old 02-23-2009, 07:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Cold Hardy Bananas and coffee under bananas

Hi everybody. This is my first post here. I'm moving back home to Knoxville, TN(zone 7ish) in June and can't wait to starting growing edibles. My daydreaming has gotten a little out of hand as I'm planning on doing way too much stuff. oh well. My latest plan involves building a cheap hoop house with pvc pipe and plastic that will simply be removed during the warm months. I would like to grow coffee and bananas in big pots. I figured the coffee could use the shade. My big question is will the hoop house be enough protection during winter for the bananas if I plant some of the cold hardy varieties? Would they still go dormant? Could I leave them unprotected except for the main plastic or would they have to be removed? I've read about growing coffee as a house plant. I figure if it just got terribly cold I could bring them in. Any thoughts?

Ben
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Old 02-23-2009, 08:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: coffee under bananas

Welcome to the Org. Benjo, There are alot of members here from Tenn. will be better able to offer advice on the Knoxville area than me, check out a few of the galleries, Randy4ut has my favorite yard photos!
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Old 02-23-2009, 08:13 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: coffee under bananas

Welcome aboard! You can, and absolutely should grow coffee under your bananas, and yes, bring it indoors if it gets at all cold. A hoop house should be enough so long as you also burlap your bananas for the winter, but there are far more zone-7 knowledgable people here than me - I live in Banana central and have no winter to speak of.
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Old 02-23-2009, 08:57 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cold Hardy Bananas and coffee under bananas

Sounds like you are thinking about growing coffee plants for the harvest of beans. When grown in the subtropics, it will take two plants per coffee drinker to produce a more-or-less sustainable supply. Also, the desired yields do not occur until the plants are hardy bushes 4 feet wide and exceeding 5 feet in height. Coffee plants have extensive root systems that are needed for reasonable bean production. If grown in a pot, I would choose 60 gallon. If you move them indoors for the winter, it must be greenhouse conditions with plenty of light or the plant will go into shock and production will lag. The processing of coffee beans is a delicate matter and most amateurs (me included) destroy their crop while drying the beans. Take them to a roasting house instead. Further, the taste of coffee beans varies quite a bit with the environment they are grown in. For a subtropical climate, the variety grown in the Nicaraguan "mountains" has produced good tasting results. I do not know of a source for these plants in the U.S., other than making a donation to a central american missionary who will obtain a bag of raw beans (which are seeds) and bring them home for you. There is no regulation restricting the import of raw coffee beans to the U.S. that I know of. Finally, many peoples in subtropical climates have come to the conclusion that you can get far better tasting coffee for less money and less effort by buying a bag of roasted beans from a reasonable source.
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:48 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cold Hardy Bananas and coffee under bananas

We have 3 coffee trees that we bring in for the winter. Once the temps get below 50, they must come in or they will die, no other result is possible.

They sit in a sunny side of the house (south) and are watered once a week using aquarium water.

Outside, they cannot deal with direct sun for any extended period.

They are quite attractive and one of our favorite plants.
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Old 02-24-2009, 08:17 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Cold Hardy Bananas and coffee under bananas

Thanks for all the responses and welcomes. I guess I will be giving it a try before long. I'm not growing to try to "beat the system" or anything. If the crops fail then I will try it differently the next year. At least for the moment gardening edibles just seems like such a wholesome and peaceful recreation. The sight of a banana tree in full production would be incredibly exciting. I can't wait to get started. Its funny how time, stress, life or whatever it is changes people. I didn't have an iota of interest in gardening 4 years ago. Now its like I've been bitten by the bug.
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Old 02-24-2009, 09:58 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cold Hardy Bananas and coffee under bananas

If and when you do get a crop of beans, Benjo (or Richard, or anyone else) - send me a PM for details on exactly how to process them. I've worked in the drying factories of several of the organic coffee cooperatives here, so I'm quite familiar with the process.
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Old 02-25-2009, 02:39 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cold Hardy Bananas and coffee under bananas

Welcome, Ben! Can't comment on the coffee plants, but I can on bananas. I haven't tried to grow them in a hoophouse, but I think as long as you kept the temperature above freezing in there then the more cold-hardy cultivars should do fine. This is provided that the ground where they are planted does not stay wet and cold in the winter. That can rot a banana pretty quickly. I grow several cultivars here in Knoxville, and there are a couple of others on this forum that do also. I should get some decent fruit this year from at least 2 plants, hopefully more. Best,

Frank
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Old 02-26-2009, 08:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Cold Hardy Bananas and coffee under bananas

Frank,

thanks for the welcome and info. I've actually seen your posts and pictures before while lurking on the forum before I became a member. I think it was your growing bananas in Ktown that first got me really excited about the idea. What inspiration. Without rereading old posts I can't remember how long you have been doing this. Have you had much success fruiting?

Thanks again,

Ben
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Old 02-26-2009, 09:24 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Cold Hardy Bananas and coffee under bananas

Welcome aboard, Benjo!!! Good to see another future Tennesseean with the same addiction! I first started with bananas for their tropical effects on the landscape, but have recently started to press my luck and see if I could get some fruit production going on. Haven't had any luck yet, with the exception of my velutinas, but that isn't too hard. Look forward to seeing you around and if you ever travel down I-75 south for about an hour, hollar at me as I live in Cleveland, TN.
BTW, where are you located now?
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Old 02-26-2009, 02:01 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cold Hardy Bananas and coffee under bananas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjo View Post
Frank,

thanks for the welcome and info. I've actually seen your posts and pictures before while lurking on the forum before I became a member. I think it was your growing bananas in Ktown that first got me really excited about the idea. What inspiration. Without rereading old posts I can't remember how long you have been doing this. Have you had much success fruiting?

Thanks again,

Ben
Ben,

Well, thank you very much! I've been growing bananas since about 2000, so not terribly long. I was getting fruit from my Orinocos every year, until last year. My neighbor's red maple tree fell on my garden, knocking over the fruiting-size stems. I got all of my Virginia Pines cut down last month, so now the entire garden is in full sun. Hopefully this will be a good year for fruit, but you never know. I've dwindled down my stock of Orinocos to just a few full-size pseudostems. I'm just too tired of lugging them under the house every fall and then back out again in the spring. I'm trying to convert to dwarfs only. I've got a couple of D. Orinocos that could fruit, one Cal. Gold that's possible, a D. Brazilian that's getting close, and a Veinte Cohol that should give me a nice bunch this summer (very excited about that one!). Also, my Musa itinerans var. itinerans could quite possibly flower, depending on how much pseudostem is still alive under the protection.

Give me a shout when you roll into town, and we'll try to get together.

Thanks,

Frank
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Old 02-26-2009, 03:00 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Cold Hardy Bananas and coffee under bananas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy4ut View Post
Welcome aboard, Benjo!!! Good to see another future Tennesseean with the same addiction! I first started with bananas for their tropical effects on the landscape, but have recently started to press my luck and see if I could get some fruit production going on. Haven't had any luck yet, with the exception of my velutinas, but that isn't too hard. Look forward to seeing you around and if you ever travel down I-75 south for about an hour, hollar at me as I live in Cleveland, TN.
BTW, where are you located now?
Randy, thanks for the warm welcome. I'm currently in Urbana, IL which is about 2 hours south of Chicago. I've been away for gradschool. I can't wait to get back down in the South again. Like they say, "you can take the boy out of the south, but you can't take the south out of the boy." I will certainly try to get in touch when I'm down your way.
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Old 02-26-2009, 03:06 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Cold Hardy Bananas and coffee under bananas

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Ben,

Well, thank you very much! I've been growing bananas since about 2000, so not terribly long. I was getting fruit from my Orinocos every year, until last year. My neighbor's red maple tree fell on my garden, knocking over the fruiting-size stems. I got all of my Virginia Pines cut down last month, so now the entire garden is in full sun. Hopefully this will be a good year for fruit, but you never know. I've dwindled down my stock of Orinocos to just a few full-size pseudostems. I'm just too tired of lugging them under the house every fall and then back out again in the spring. I'm trying to convert to dwarfs only. I've got a couple of D. Orinocos that could fruit, one Cal. Gold that's possible, a D. Brazilian that's getting close, and a Veinte Cohol that should give me a nice bunch this summer (very excited about that one!). Also, my Musa itinerans var. itinerans could quite possibly flower, depending on how much pseudostem is still alive under the protection.

Give me a shout when you roll into town, and we'll try to get together.

Thanks,

Frank
Frank, that's great to hear of your success thus far as well as what you've learned in the process. I had in mind going for dwarfs especially if I can get the hoop house up. I'm hoping the extra protection would extend the season by a number of weeks. Is the shortness of season the main difficulty in getting bananas to fruit? Thanks also for the list of varieties to try. I will definitely take these as a starting point. If I'm not mistaken the thread about Veinte Cohol was the exact one that got me hooked. Isn't VC putting up great numbers?

Thanks,
Ben
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Old 02-27-2009, 11:43 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cold Hardy Bananas and coffee under bananas

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Frank, that's great to hear of your success thus far as well as what you've learned in the process. I had in mind going for dwarfs especially if I can get the hoop house up. I'm hoping the extra protection would extend the season by a number of weeks. Is the shortness of season the main difficulty in getting bananas to fruit? Thanks also for the list of varieties to try. I will definitely take these as a starting point. If I'm not mistaken the thread about Veinte Cohol was the exact one that got me hooked. Isn't VC putting up great numbers?

Thanks,
Ben

Ben,

Yes, the shorter growing season is what usually prevents me from getting ripe fruit. It's kind of tricky trying to time your pseudostems just right. If I can get a bloom by the end of July on my Orinocos, the bunch will plump up just right before the first frost, and then I can cut the whole raceme down and the bunch will ripen the rest of the way indoors. If I see that a pseudostem isn't going to bloom in time, I'll quit feeding and giving it supplemental water, hoping for it not to bloom before frost. Likewise, I'll push the pseudostems that look like they might reach the right size by fall with extra water and ferts. There are some tricks to slowing down growth, like taking a shovel and breaking a bunch of the lateral roots around the plant periodically. It's not an exact science, because some pseudostems will flower at a larger size than others, but it's fun trying anyway. Sometimes I hit the jackpot, most of the time I don't, LOL!

Veinte Cohol hasn't been proven in cooler climates yet, but does very well in Savannah, GA and points further south. It might take a little longer than 45 days to ripen a bunch here, but will still likely be shorter than 3 months! I'll hopefully find out this summer! I'm also experimenting with 'Senorita' and 'Pisang Berlin'.

Frank
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Old 02-27-2009, 02:01 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cold Hardy Bananas and coffee under bananas

Welcome from NASHVILLE Ben. Glad you found us..If you need anything feel free to hollar.
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