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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.

It's time for introductions!

Postby Axel » Sun Dec 12, 2010 12:14 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
We've had a lot of new people join the Cloudforest in the last week or two, so it's time for all of us to introduce ourselves. Please take the time to write a little about yourself, what kind of gardening you do, what sorts of plants you like. Post some photos of your garden too if you have some. i will go ahead and start.

I live in the Santa Cruz mountains, and I've been into plants for as long as I can remember. My parents claim I spoke to plants when I was a little munchkin, so perhaps, it's in my genes. I absolutely love the tropics, but I also love fruits and all sorts of plants, so I have pretty diverse interests when it comes to gardening. I am an active member of the CRFG, and I think my Palm Society membership lapsed, but I will fix that soon.

Santa Cruz is a strange place, both people and weather wise. We have it all here - this is where Southern California-style palm tree lined ocean vistas meet deep dark and green misty redwoods that hide beautiful waterfalls and mysterious forest trails. The weather is capricious, one day might be truly Summery with 90's, the next it might be drizzling. After a bout of Winter snowfall in the upper ridges of the coastal mountains, it's not unusual to see Summer like beach weather break the Winter chill. And when it rains, it really rains hard. My garden gets about 60 inches in the span of maybe 5 months or less. The jet stream will often plow massive moisture-laden subtropical storms right into the mountains, and as the clouds and fog pile up, it rains and drizzles for days at a time to the point where I often get cabin fever. There's not a doubt in my mind we live in a Cloudforest, hence the name of the website. But all that rain is worth it when I look around at the truly amazing beauty that surrounds us. The California redwoods are up there as one of the wonders of this word. I think of Patagonia and New Zealand when I think about this place. Of course, no place is ever perfect. Despite all the beauty here, I have a love-hate relationship with Santa Cruz: it can be downright chilly durning the Summer, and I miss warm Summer evenings, especially on those July days when the heater turns itself back on. Last Summer was especially miserable because of an unusually foggy El Nino Summer. I can often relate to the Germans who try to absorb every last minute of the sometimes ephemeral warm Summer sunshine before it disappears into a sea of midst. I am sure that part of my desire for a beautiful tropical garden is to keep me insulated from the Summer chill.

My main focus over the last few years has been on both tropical and temperate fruits and plants. My garden actually has two distinct microclimates because I am on a hillside. I do most of my tropical gardening on the top garden. My goal is to transform the upper garden into a tropical jungle, and so far, I've had pretty good success. I intermingle fruit trees in between beautiful palms and other plants with bold and exotic tropical foliage, and I've managed to squeeze in a waterfall in the midst of it all. I try not to delude myself about our local climate, which is a solid USDA 9b zone despite the fact that I've rarely seen frost damage in the upper garden. So I plant tender things under large trees or next to structures so I son't have to do too much Winter protection work. The upper garden features cherimoyas, lucumas, white sapotes, ice cream beans, rose apples, feijojas, avocados, tropical guavas, mountain papayas and a handful of apple and peach trees. There are lots of exotic palms, with parajubaea being the main species. At last count my garden has at least a dozen parajubaeas growing in it.

Here is a video of my upper garden:



The lower garden is a whole other story. While the upper garden is very wind exposed and has almost a 45 degree slope, the lower garden is the opposite. It's much more wind sheltered, the slope eases significantly. The result is regular episodes of frost every Winter. Despite almost every last inch of garden being dedicated to plants, I did manage to squeeze in a small lawn, and it's usually covered in white frost at least 10-20 Mornings each Winter. The wind protection may mean frost in the Winter, but in the Summer, it creates warm and toasty conditions. With lots of protection from the sea breeze, the garden will often swing from 90's during the height of the afternoon to a chilly mid 50's after sunset. The hottest, sunniest part is dedicated to a citrus orchard with over 40 varieties of citrus. Oranges have been my greatest success, far more tasty than any mandarin/tangerine or tangelo. I don't know why, it just seems the garden is better suited for them. My favorite citrus are the acideless vartieties, in particular, I love Vaniglia, it's by far my favorite citrus. I just love the delicious refreshing aspect of the acidless citrus.

The bottom of the garden where most of the cold air drains features an extensive orchard of temperate fruit, with some hardy avocados and white sapotes in the mix. I scatter hardy palms in the orchard border to give a little tropical accent there as well. Peaches are my favorite fruit, but when it comes to collecting and exploring, apples turn out to be my big weakness, and that's where my obsessive side shows itself the most. I have over 600 varieties of apples grafted on about 60 trees. Some days I think I must really have gone nuts because there is no way I could ever even sample all 600 varieties given that there are only 365 days a year. But I am sure many of you can relate to getting lost in a sea of fruit varieties. The sheer fun of exploration keeps me going. I love to read about the history of each variety, and when a new variety fruits, I take the fruit in the house and ceremonially "consume" the apple - that usually includes a great photo op, and then cut up the apple into fine slices the Zen sort of way. I then eat each morsel as if I was sampling a fine, ancient wine. Some of the varieties are indeed ancient, going back to to Roman empire. And when I eat them, I think of the thousands of hands throughout history that were involved into brining this apple to me on this very day.

Of course, my apple obsession could have something to do with growing up on an old French apple orchard. But it has its roots in a desire to diversify away from tropicals so that my Winters are a bit more relaxing. You see, when I exclusively grew tropicals, I would grow somber and miserable when the weather turned cold. I would worry about the devastating freeze that might be lurking behind the next weather front. I watched the weather obsessively, often wishing I lived somewhere else. Well, enough is enough, I thought, and I decided to focus on what grew best here. And that turned out to be apples. I haven't lost my passion for the tropical jungle, Quite the contrary. Now I can actually enjoy my tropical garden because I know that if a freeze does wipe it out, I still have my apples. :) And when the cold weather comes - which it does every year, bringing bone chilling cold - I am now happy because I think about all the chill my apples are getting. If it's warm, my garden is doing well, if it's cold, my garden is doing well, how can anyone go wrong in diversifying? It''s a true win-win.

I still prefer peaches over apples. And, sorry to say, when there are fresh peaches on the trees, white sapotes and other normally exquisite fruits taste bland. Cherries are a close second, followed by my beloved cherimoyas - which I hope will some day be exonerated from their evil annonacin ways. I have at least a dozen cherimoyas, and while I don't eat so many anymore, it's still got to be one of the tastiest fruit around.

My biggest success of the most unlikely fruit to succeed here has been the banana: see for yourself:
Image

If you are interested in visiting my garden, drop me a line, or watch out for CRFG tours, usually in mid Summer I have at least one visit.

So, now it's your turn. Tell us about yourself, and take your time. Make friends with your keyboard so that we might at least get a good virtual visit of your garden world. Spelling errors, bad grammar, and being totally inaccurate are all welcome here. Let the other Cloudforest members into your world if just for a moment.
Tropical gardening in both Kaua'i windward Sunset H2/USDA 12b and Fallbrook Sunset 23/USDA 10b.

Re: It's time for introductions!

Postby Axel » Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:54 am

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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
Please make sure to use this new introduction forum to post your introduction instead of this specific topic/thread.
Tropical gardening in both Kaua'i windward Sunset H2/USDA 12b and Fallbrook Sunset 23/USDA 10b.

Re:

Postby philp2001 » Sat Apr 16, 2011 9:36 pm

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Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:10 am
Climate Zone: USDA 8/9
Hi All
My name is Phil Pieri I live on 15 acres outside of Petaluma. We are about 20 miles from the coast and get lots of summer fog but milder winters USDA 9a/b
We have about 150 trees outside and a 16X46 unheated green house where I try to grow sub tropicals, bananas grow all summer then die back befor the fruit ripens. So I took most of those out. The Bays cherimoya is finally fruiting, and the Babaco as always is loaded the tamarillo has bee pruned way back so just a few fruit and a few on the carambola every year. Still waiting for fruit on White sapote,black sapote,kei apple,longan.lychee.and tropic white guava. We also grow some hay and raise some steers for market.
We love to have visitors any time If your in the area just give a call or email and let us know your coming. We are in the phonebook.

Re: It's time for introductions!

Postby Axel » Sun Apr 17, 2011 2:39 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, Phil. An unheated greenhouse is the way to go to push the limits in Petaluma. You can also cover the greenhouse with frost floating row cover in the Winter, that would give you enough protection to get the bananas through the Winter without defoliating.

I am curious, what kind of trees do you have growing outside?
Tropical gardening in both Kaua'i windward Sunset H2/USDA 12b and Fallbrook Sunset 23/USDA 10b.

Re: It's time for introductions!

Postby RodneyS » Sun Apr 17, 2011 2:48 pm

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Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 6:41 am
Location: Cerritos, CA
Climate Zone: USDA Zone 11a
The Cloudforest welcomes you, Phil!

Re: It's time for introductions!

Postby philp2001 » Sun Apr 17, 2011 6:38 pm

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Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:10 am
Climate Zone: USDA 8/9
Axel wrote:Welcome to the Cloudforest, Phil. An unheated greenhouse is the way to go to push the limits in Petaluma. You can also cover the greenhouse with frost floating row cover in the Winter, that would give you enough protection to get the bananas through the Winter without defoliating.

I am curious, what kind of trees do you have growing outside?


Multiple varietys of pome and pit fruit. I get the root stock and scions from our Redwood CRFG chapter scion exchanges. I started out grafting one variety per tree but decided I would never be able to maintain so many trees so I started top working some of the trees whenever I find a variety I cannot live without.
Also trying some citrus, most of them are not happy here but they are growing and I even get some fruit, although it usually is not sweet probably due to the cool climate. Some avacados survive here but mostly defoliate every winter, two are doing pretty good a mexicola grande and a seedling from one of Luther Burbanks original trees, both have bloomed but no fruit. I have about a dozen varietys of pomagranate that I got from Wolfskill, trying to find one that will produce, again, in this climate. A few odd things like Sorbus , Medlar, Japanese raisin tree, and jujubee. The only sub tropical that has managed to survive two winters outside so far (I keep trying) is surinam cherry. I have tried White Sapote, roseapple and cherimoya. The cherimoya came back from the root but gave up in the second winter. I think I have to wait for a larger tree befor I put them out in future.
Phil

Re: It's time for introductions!

Postby Axel » Sun Apr 17, 2011 9:03 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
I am curious which stone and pome fruits do well for you. Anything in particular that stands out?

You must be in a lower lying area to get your avocados to loose their leaves.
Tropical gardening in both Kaua'i windward Sunset H2/USDA 12b and Fallbrook Sunset 23/USDA 10b.

Re: It's time for introductions!

Postby philp2001 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:05 pm

philp2001
 
Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 11:10 am
Climate Zone: USDA 8/9
I live on the south facing solpe of a valley that opens to the coast about 20 miles away the prevailing wind brings in the marine influence but we get a couple of hard frosts every winter I have been moving the avos up slope to try and get above the frost at the very top is where the surinam cherry is located. Some years the frost line dose not get that high other years it dose.
Phil

Re: It's time for introductions!

Postby Axel » Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:49 am

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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
Does the valley run East-West? I've noticed that East-West running valleys run a lot colder than north-south running valleys. The main reason is that the airflow in the Winter is usually north to south on cold nights, and an East-West running ridge blocks that flow. That might explain why you get so cold.

What is your elevation?

I would still love to hear about your apple and pear varieties.
Tropical gardening in both Kaua'i windward Sunset H2/USDA 12b and Fallbrook Sunset 23/USDA 10b.

Re: It's time for introductions!

Postby carol168 » Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:44 pm

carol168
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:11 am
Climate Zone: USDA zone 8
We live in a south-facing house in Sunnyvale (very hot in the front!). The peonies sure like it here; we recently added the newer Itoh varieties. My husband does most of the gardening around here. We have a few fruit trees that we enjoy, the latest producing tree being the sapote. This year we added 2 pluot trees. (I had the best "dinosaur egg" grenade pluot in Calgary, Canada, last year while visiting. When I found out from the clerk that they're from California, I searched for them upon return, and bought 2 trees immediately.) Ken retired recently & now spends most of his time adding & grafting to fruit trees & tending to our hens, which he has built a coop for & he posts separately on.
Keeping my fingers crossed for summer pluot harvest!
There's nothing like the satisfaction of growing, enjoying, & sharing nature's bounty. Our fuju persimmon tree is happy here & so prolific that we ship boxes of fruits to friends across the country who appreciate the tasty fruits that are so easy to ship (firm). Currently we have heirloom tomato seedlings, many of them grown straight from seeds for the varieties we want. We get so spoiled with these yummy home grown heirlooms that it's hard to go back to store-bought ones.
We would like to try growing cherimoyas next. Years ago I was introduced to the fruit from a friend, who as a girl growing up in Peru, was ecstatic when we went shopping one day & she saw the cherimoyas. I just didn't think they would grow here. Now we revisit the idea & do all the research we can & talk to as many successful growers as we can, and will venture out. We recently attended Axel's lecture at Prusch Farm, and appreciate the postings on cloudforest, informative & inspiring! So glad we can join in!

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