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Please welcome new members here and if you have not introduced yourself yet, take a minute to let people know a little bit about yourself.

Hello from Boulder Creek...

Postby Deb » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:05 am

Deb
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:43 pm
Location: Boulder Creek, CA
Climate Zone: 9
Hello Cloudforest Community,

I am a new member living at the extreme north end of Santa Cruz County, hence, not nearly so tropical as those of you in Santa Cruz. Unfortunately for me, tropical plants and trees are what I would really like to grow. I have joined Cloudforest because I see that many of you folks are interested in doing the same.

We have a new greenhouse (not yet assembled) which I hope will assist me in creating a climate friendly to tropical plants. I have a few ideas, but would love to bounce them around here before I execute them, as many of you know far more than I about what is and is not possible. The last thing I want to do is to doom a couple of dwarf coconut trees to a slow death here in soggy Boulder Creek.

Looking forward to future chats with you all, and some innovative ideas to overcome my climate zone challenges!

Re: Hello from Boulder Creek...

Postby RodneyS » Sun Mar 20, 2011 10:51 am

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RodneyS
Cloudforest Guru
 
Posts: 549
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 6:41 am
Location: Cerritos, CA
Climate Zone: USDA Zone 11a
Howdy & Welcome to the CloudForest, Deb!

Are referring to Samoan coconut trees? I've thought about acquiring them in the future as well.

Re: Hello from Boulder Creek...

Postby Deb » Sun Mar 20, 2011 11:19 am

Deb
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:43 pm
Location: Boulder Creek, CA
Climate Zone: 9
Hello Rodney,

Yes, there are two dwarf varieties: Malaysian (smaller, slower growing, small-medium-sized fruit) and Samoan (somewhat larger with large fruit). Though I would love to try to grow a Samoan coconut palm, a nurseryman in Hawaii told me that the Malaysian variety would be a better bet, but even then he gave me no guarantees. Try "Gaia Yoga" nursery. They sell both varieties for only about $20. ea.

I am thinking I will dig a very deep hole, maybe 6-8', at the very back end of where I plan to put the greenhouse. I'll fill it with gravel, maybe 1'. Then maybe 4' of a sand/soil mixture (one guy I talked to said 80% sand, but I think I might go with 1/2 and1/2), then plant the trees. They will still be at least a couple of feet below ground level at that point, so more room for upward growth. What do you think about that? Will it work? Most folks are saying that the climate around here isn't necessarily what kills the coconut trees--it's the cold and wet on their roots during the winter. So I wonder, if I can keep the roots relatively warm and dry (our soil here is clay, so that would be the reason for the deep hole and gravel) then maybe I can get them established. Having never tried anything like this before, I could be "all wet" myself. Let me know your thoughts on this.

Thanks,

Deb

Re: Hello from Boulder Creek...

Postby Axel » Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:05 pm

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Axel
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Posts: 3533
Joined: Thu Nov 18, 2010 8:49 pm
Location: Hanalei Bay, HI & Fallbrook, CA
Climate Zone: 12b/H2 & 10b/S23
Welcome to the Cloudforest. Boulder Creek is indeed chilly, so to grow coconuts even in a greenhouse is quite an undertaking unless you're willing to get the heat going during the Winter.

The problem with coconuts is that they require daytime temps well above 50F to grow. The Summer growing conditions at my house are too cold outside to grow a coconut, i.e. 50F at night is not good for a coconut - maybe through Winter, but not the entire year. So unless you can really keep night time temperatures above about 65F during the Summer, you may want to reconsider a coconut.

Part of me doesn't want to discourage you because it would be great fun to have a real coconut growing in Santa Cruz County, even if it's in a greenhouse.

So to summarize, just keep in mind that our Summer climate isn't friendly to coconuts either - and our Winters are pretty much lethal.

There is a coconut growing outdoors in Newport Beach, but during the Summer, the lows in Newport Beach are around 68-75F. So it just doesn't cool off there at night during the growing season. And during the Winter, it rarely drops below 50F at night, with the occasional low in between 45-50F.
Tropical gardening in both Kaua'i windward Sunset H2/USDA 12b and Fallbrook Sunset 23/USDA 10b.

Re: Hello from Boulder Creek...

Postby Deb » Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:33 pm

Deb
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:43 pm
Location: Boulder Creek, CA
Climate Zone: 9
Thanks, Axel.

Sadly, you are confirming what I suspected all along. I know about that coconut in Newport Beach, and they are way south of here! But it grows outside, and I had hoped maybe a greenhouse up here might approximate the outside down there. As we were talking about this this morning, my husband suggested starting them (the first 3-5 years) inside the house. We have a small room that could easily be kept at a temperature a coconut would like, with plenty of sunlight. We probably won't see any fruit in conditions like these, but perhaps we can transplant them out in the greenhouse when they are a few years old? I have read that transplanting is very hard on coconut trees, so this experiment could turn out to be a huge failure, at the trees' expense, which I would not want. So...should I attempt this, or accept my humble station in Boulder Creek and just grow carrots and kale?

Thanks for your input,

Deb

Re: Hello from Boulder Creek...

Postby RodneyS » Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:51 pm

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RodneyS
Cloudforest Guru
 
Posts: 549
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 6:41 am
Location: Cerritos, CA
Climate Zone: USDA Zone 11a
Gaia Yoga has a nice website. You can also check out Plantogram.com

For sale are Dwarf Green & Yellow coconut trees. Ask MIckey for more info. The price is higher than Gaia but the specimens are probably larger

Re: Hello from Boulder Creek...

Postby Deb » Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:59 pm

Deb
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:43 pm
Location: Boulder Creek, CA
Climate Zone: 9
Thanks Rodney. I'll go there right now.

Re: Hello from Boulder Creek...

Postby Axel » Sun Mar 20, 2011 3:19 pm

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Axel
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3533
Joined: Thu Nov 18, 2010 8:49 pm
Location: Hanalei Bay, HI & Fallbrook, CA
Climate Zone: 12b/H2 & 10b/S23
Deb, one thing to note is that just because common wisdom says something can't be done doesn't mean you can't try. Many people on the Cloudforest happen to have tried things that people said couldn't be done, and then succeeded. If you focus on just a couple of plants, it can be done. It just takes a lot of energy and focus, so just be prepared.

One more thing, you may want to reconsider getting a dwarf coconut. When there are climate limiting factors, dwarfing will work against you because it means a plant is less vigorous. You want to look for the varieties that seem to tolerate more chill, not so much the ones that are hardier to frost.
Tropical gardening in both Kaua'i windward Sunset H2/USDA 12b and Fallbrook Sunset 23/USDA 10b.

Re: Hello from Boulder Creek...

Postby Deb » Sun Mar 20, 2011 8:25 pm

Deb
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:43 pm
Location: Boulder Creek, CA
Climate Zone: 9
Thanks, Axel.

That is a very good point, and one I doubt I would have thought of. I'll do a little poking around to find the full-size variet(ies) best suited to weather long-term chill. I might also give the Samoan Dwarf a try, too. From what I've read, it's pretty hardy despite its "dwarfism." And it would be good for comparison as well. I'll post on this subject again once we set up the greenhouse and purchase the trees, probably sometime later this Spring.

Thanks again,

Deb

Re: Hello from Boulder Creek...

Postby Jason (palo alto) » Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:25 am

Jason (palo alto)
Cloudforest Expert
 
Posts: 384
Joined: Sat Nov 27, 2010 9:04 pm
Location: Redwood City, CA
Climate Zone: Z17, 9b
I looked up the dwarf ones. Some can fruit at pretty much ground level. It may grow slow but a coconut that short is much easier to protect and keep warm through the winter. You could pretty much make it its own 1 plant greenhouse with heater each winter. If you plant it along the south facing wall of your home you have already got one of the sides of your greenhouse covered plus some ambient heat.

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