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DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
Thu, Dec 12, 13 at 19:20

Dave Wilson Nursery just today posted a new section on their website about greenhouse fruit production. I haven't actually checked it out fully but was informed that there is an article I wrote for them about my operation.

Here is a link that might be useful: DWN greenhouse fruit production.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

Fruitnut,

A very informative article and impressive pictures esp.the spring flowering one. Somehow, I wrongly thought that your green house trees are all in pots.

How old are your oldest trees, please?

Thank you for sharing.


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RE: DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 12, 13 at 20:02

The oldest in-ground trees were grafted in 2003 and planted in the greenhouse in 2005. All but one or two of the original trees are gone. I'm replanting at a spacing of 4ft by 1.5ft this winter. The trees will mostly be on alternating Lovell and Krymsk 1 rootstock. That way down the road I can thin to either Lovell or K1 at a spacing of 4ft by 3ft.

The trees will be grown on a trellis as a narrow fruiting wall about 18 inches wide with a 30 inch alleyway. Canopy height will be 6-7ft.

This post was edited by fruitnut on Thu, Dec 12, 13 at 20:03


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RE: DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

Fruitnut, great, great article. Enjoyed it almost as much as I do seeing photographs of your amazing greenhouse or 'orchard' house. Also, the picture of the trees in bloom is spectacular. Thanks so much, Mrs.G


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 12, 13 at 21:03

Mrs G thanks for the comments. I think Craig did a nice job with the pictures and presentation.

The nectarine picture on the opening general section is my favorite. It shows the spreckling that goes along with short water and high brix. The middle picture in my writeup is Honey Blaze. I had another picture I liked better of higher brix Honey Blaze fruit. But the fruit density is less impressive. Craig chose the one showing more fruit.


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RE: DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

Hi Fruitnut,
Thank you so much for sharing. Your greenhouse is beautiful. I love the picture of all those pink blooms lined up neatly in the greenhouse. Since I started following garden forum, I have learned a great deal from you and others. I just want to say do keep up the good work!! I love growing fruit, berries and veggies and just reading about your experiences, methods, and expertise really paves the way for me (and many others) I am sure! Thanks so much!


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RE: DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

Great write up Steve.


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 13, 13 at 9:45

ahgrower the greenhouse isn't really neat and hasn't been for several years. I've been pulling out old trees and moving potted trees around to fill in the holes. After the replant this winter it will look neat again, for awhile anyway.

Thanks for the support bamboo. My hobby is going about like your figs. Had to order 120 trees from DWN to meet their minimum order. Even cramming them into the greenhouse I'll have extra trees to plant outdoors.


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RE: DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

Fruitnut, very informative article, thanks!

I'm new to fruit growing. I always thought it was a myth that reducing water improves flavor and increases sugar. Interesting..

Fruitnut, if you click on the link below it should access a picture from the very bottem of your article. You have two pots side by side with what looks like grape vines growing up a structure, nearly reaching to the top of your greenhouse. Are those really grapes vines? Also, it seems like you rooted the growing end of the grapes to the pots next to it, is that true, or are they two seperate vines?

Here is a link that might be useful: Are those grape vines in the bottem right corner?


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 13, 13 at 12:06

Nature:

Those are grapes in 12 gal pots. They are one vine per pot, no rooting on both ends. The picture below might show a clearer image. Yield was about 10 clusters per pot in 2013. That's after heavy thinning. Trying for eating quality over yield.

The trellis is about 7ft or slightly higher. People like it when the fruit ripens as it hangs overhead.
potted grapes photo Grapes2162012004.jpg

This picture is from 2012 showing about 6 clusters per vine in only the 2nd leaf from planting. They were planted spring 2011. I have all the varieties listed in the writeup and a few more: Jupiter, Muscat of Alexandria. Summer Muscat tastes the best but cracks worse than any other fruit I've grown and has very small berries. Jupiter is nearly uneatable IMO. M of Alex is way too seedy. My favorites are Flame, Summer Royal, Princess, and Crimson seedless.

In this next picture Summer Royal is the dark grapes at the top left with the long clusters. Princess is the green cluster at top middle. Both have big berries without treatment. Flame and Crimson are at the far end and have good fruit but smaller berries.

 photo seedlessgrapes782012002_zps5658ec03.jpg

This post was edited by fruitnut on Fri, Dec 13, 13 at 12:20


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RE: DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

  • Posted by eboone 6a - SW PA (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 13, 13 at 12:15

Very nice article Steve. I have been itching to get a greenhouse for cherries, figs, and some other stonefruit as well since I first joined this forum and saw your setup. Maybe next year!


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 13, 13 at 12:25

eboone:

A full greenhouse is only needed for certain climates and crops. A high tunnel, without winter heat, would work in many cases.

Let me know if you need to bounce around ideas in planning.


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120 new trees? I can't even fathom that. I sure wish we could grow those pluots and a few other things here.


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  • Posted by eboone 6a - SW PA (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 13, 13 at 15:00

Steve -
Yes you are probably right about the high tunnel being adequate. Would be nice to be able to heat it in April through early May and again in October for things like figs though, and for a few vegetables as well, to get a longer growing season, earlier production.


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RE: DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

FruitNut:

That is ingenious! I thought about containerizing every fruit besides grapes, don't know why it didn't cross my mind.

"Those are grapes in 12 gal pots."

Aren't nursery pots actualy half the size they claim? So it would be similar in size to a five gal bucket, maybe a little bigger?


"The trellis is about 7ft or slightly higher. People like it when the fruit ripens as it hangs overhead. "

What are you using for the trellis, wire, what gauge wire? I plan on trellising grapes on a four foot fence, you think that'll work or too small?


What is your potting mix for the grapes?


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 13, 13 at 16:21

It's about 12 gal real volume. I just strung some electric fencing wire, 16 gauge??, across the width of the greenhouse and pulled it really tight. I've had many on fences outdoors.

The mix is similar to 5-1-1 mix. Mostly organic with a small amount of soil.


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Fruitnut, what is so surprising to me is that the picture I have in my mind of root systems is a rather large network of roots. Your pots seem so small to grow such enormous, producing trees and vines. I am amazed at how it does work. The pictures of the grapes are enough to put the French and Italian travel business to ruin! They are beautiful. And yes, seeing grapes growing over your head when dining under a grape trellis is heaven. Do you ever have a party in your tunnel? Mrs. G


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Wow! You are a fruitnut. I guess I am again going to suggest if you have an e-book left in you to write "fruitnut's guide to growing fruit trees," I know I'd buy it. Thanks for the heads up and for the additional photos.

Did you build that greenhouse yourself? From kit or scratch?

Clearing an area for a second greenhouse? :-)

Do you roll up the white ground cover before the summer?

Is the purpose of the high volume unused overhead for heat collection above the canopy, or structural for snow resistance or something else?


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Very nice setup.Maybe your new name can be Dr.fruitnut or Professor fruitnut.


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 13, 13 at 22:49

Nation:

I built it you might say from a kit. You choose the frame and then outfit it do do what you need done. The hard part is knowing climate, crop, and everything else that goes into good fruit.

The white Extenday fabric stays down all year long. Inside the greenhouse there isn't excess light. Need all I can get.

I wish the greenhouse were 12-14ft tall not 16. That's one thing the engineers at Stuppy's talked me into but probably isn't needed. It does help to keep heat above the crop especially in a high tunnel that is cooled by natural convection. But my setup, evaporative cooling, will hold temperature well below a naturally ventillated setup.

I see you're talking a greenhouse for Phoenix. Just winter I assume. You could set up something to hold off winter freezes and then switch to summer shade.

Brady:

I worked 20 years in pecan research, along with many other crops. So fruitnut is as good as it gets.


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  • Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 16, 13 at 11:39

Nice contribution, fruitnut. Your harvest times run pretty close to mine. There are a few surprises:
* Apricot/Apriums in April? I need to find one. And if it can approach the eating quality of Royal, it would be a huge alternative to citrus and loquats in that time frame.
* No Royal apricot? I assume you tried it and it didn't make the cut for you.
* Surprised that peaches and plums weren't well represented. Was that an oversight or do they not factor into your selection? I know you have a preference for Nectarines and pluots, but I hadn't considered that peaches (you only listed one) and plums might be completely excluded.
* Not sure how you feel about pomegranates, but they would be good candidates to add to your outside the greenhouse list.

Again, excellent article. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences. :)


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 16, 13 at 11:53

Tasty Rich is my earliest apricot every year. It also blooms very early and is probably low chill. It's really pretty good eating and very reliable on setting and eating quality.

Blenheim aka Royal was poor eating and too soft. There are many other cots that fell by the wayside as well.

I started out with about equal plums, peach, nectarine and pluot. After about 5-6 years nearly all plum and peach were cut out. There is one peach in the writeup, Valley Sweet, and I'm planting more this winter.

The best plums were Laroda and Burgundy. But pluots are better IME.

I don't much care for pomegranates but all I've tried is Wonderful.

I left out quite a few other fruits for sake of brevity.


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Interesting. I think pomegranates are fantastic and all I can get in MI is imported from the west cost, and they are fantastic. I would grow 50 trees if I could!
Now you couldn't get me to taste an apricot though, no way. I tried one, never again!
Everybody is different.


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  • Posted by mrclint z10SoCal Valley (My Page) on
    Mon, Dec 16, 13 at 17:33

Tasty Rich might need more chill (700 hrs below 45*) than I can offer. DWN has its harvest time in early to mid-May in Fresno, so I think your's are ready way ahead of that schedule. I have May covered pretty well already.

I've not noticed Royal apricots being mushy. They do ripen oddly (from the inside out) and are excellent with a bit of green to them. I could see how letting them color up completely might make them a bit over ripe/mushy. Could be other factors as well such as climate.

I figured that you left a bunch of things off your list. And a heck-of-a list it is. Thanks again for sharing.


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Fruitnut, re: your high tunnel growing. It is the hottest topic at the New England Fruit and Veg. growers conference starting today. After review all of the topics and speakers, it would be excellent for you to join the panel next year. It is the way of growing now. Very exciting. My big question is, how do you keep your soil healthy? Mrs. G


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Tue, Dec 17, 13 at 14:14

Mrs G:

Good question. In the long run there might be trouble under that fabric. But so far the soil has maintained excellent structure and water intake. I may add a little compost to the surface before I cover it again. But I really don't see an issue in my lifetime.


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RE: DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

Fruitnut, what an amazing pleasure dome of fruit you have created. You have me thinking. I have a 20x30 high tunnel I built last year for native tree production. Here in Ohio it doesn't keep temperatures at night above ambient--I don't winter anything out there, given the wide range of winter temperatures. In summer I roll up the sides and use shade cloth.

But if I were to devote a section of it for fruit production, what would give me the greatest bang for my buck--in taste rewards? I trust your palate and judgement as a grower. PS...I already have the usual trees in my outdoor orchard.

Marc


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 19, 13 at 9:25

Marc:

Mine doesn't keep nights above ambient either unless I heat. The exception is on nights with heavy clouds. Then it maintains about +6F.

In your climate one possibility would be to use your shelter to protect against severe mid winter cold. That would mean a small heater to hold a minimum above critical temperature for some target crop. That might be 0F to 15F depending on the crop. Or it could be used to protect against spring or fall freezes.

My favorite fruit is the nectarines but only if the water is right in summer. Adam's County sometimes sells Honey Blaze and Honey Royale. Your high tunnel would allow some control of water on roots, fruit, and tree. This could reduce disease pressure and improve eating quality. The extra heat would also benefit eating quality.

I also have grown to really appreciate the best apricots, Robada and Orangered. They have a really great flavor beyond just being sweet.

You might also consider Black Diamond thornless blackberry, from Raintree. I grew it in a 5 gal pot which would make it easy to protect. The top picture is Black Diamond, very easy to control as it is semidwarf, thornless, and compact. The bottom picture shows four cultivars in winter. Eating quality of BD is better than what you could grow outdoors.

Black Diamond photo blackberry002.jpg

 photo blackberry11012002.jpg


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 19, 13 at 9:39

Marc:

The other fruits that love summer heat and lack of rain on the fruit are figs, pomegranate, and grapes. Persimmon love heat also. I'd pot all of those especially figs and grapes to control vigor and increase fruit set on fig. Strawberry Verte fig is a very good fruit. I harvested one this year in the greenhouse on Dec 11. It hung limp a month to really ripen up and was still nearly equal to summer harvest.


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Fruitnut, one more question about roots and containers. Do you find your container plants are at risk to low winter temperatures? How low is killing? I lost a lot of pawpaws last winter--they were in small (25 cu. in.) pots. Perhaps size was the problem.

You have me thinking about figs, nectarines, and grapes! Thank you.

Marc


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RE: DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

fruitnut,
I grow fruit trees in East Texas. 4 methley plums, 1 Harvester peach (1st fruit tree, rooky mistake, box store), 1 red baron peach, 2 snow queen nectarines, Anna apple and an unknown apple (long story). They are all watered at least 1 time a week but more often than not, no less than 3-4 days a week. Question is: Should I limit watering during fruit bearing? Even under drought conditions? After reading your article, it was the first time something clicked about watering. Thanks treenutt


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RE: DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

marc5,

I defer to fruitnut, but I may have relevant cold weather info. I live between Cleveland and Columbus, usually listed as zone 5. I grow most of my fruit in pots. I have overwintered outside in pots the following fruits: gooseberry, mulberry, plum, cherry, and blueberry. I bring potted blackberries into an unheated workshop. So far, the plants have been fine.

I've only been doing this since 2010. We have *not* had an extreme winter during that time. I grow in 14 gallon rubbermaid totes with drain holes drilled in the bottom. I bury the pots in leaves a couple of inches above the pots. The leaves settle to a couple of inches below the tops of the pots. So far, so good. (I don't insulate the blackberries in the unheated workshop. However, I make sure they don't dry out.)

Disclaimer: another forum member reported that she lost plants to rodents one year using a similar approach.


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 26, 13 at 19:21

treenutt:

Outdoors I water my trees much more than in the greenhouse. This is entirely due to the higher water use outdoors. But the same principles apply, at least for certain fruit species. Too much water will result in large fruit that isn't as sweet as it might be.

The amount of water needed is dependent on weather and crop. In general if your soil is deep you shouldn't need to water peaches and plum more than once a week. It might even be possible to go 2-3 weeks between waterings. This would be with a deep wetting at each watering.


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Mulched in pots are pretty much the same as being in ground- standard procedure for nurseries around here with their balled and burlapped stuff and I've used it in my container nursery before I started burying the pots in the ground. Worked down to -20 F with all common fruit species grown here for me.

The pots pick up heat from the ground and the mulch keeps it there.

By the way, congrats to FN. Being a revolutionary can be lonely at first but it looks like followers are arriving.


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 27, 13 at 10:23

Thank you harvestman for your support. I do see interest in dialing in water to improve eating quality of many crops including things like melons and tomato. There is a groundswell of activity in CA in that area.

I don't sense much interest in protected culture amongst home growers. There is some activity from commercial growers. Even an attempt to grow low chill sweet cherries in high tunnels in TX. Glad that's not my money because I'd rate it a long shot in terms of profit potential. But then they aren't bothered like I am about charging over sized prices for fruit. Ten dollar a lb sweet cherries anyone?


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One greenhouse covers 64 acres.

If they can do it for Costco tomatoes ... why not for ?????

http://www.costcoconnection.com/connection/201208?pg=104#pg104

Here is a link that might be useful: 64 ACRE GREENHOUSE


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In California they are running out of water, at least from the statements I hear on the garden shows. Cost is soaring. So it makes sense to use growing methods that require and control water. Here and in the south you can use well water. At my cottage 13 feet down and you hit water. Water is cheap here in MI.
Shallow wells to water lawns are common in some areas.
Speaking of water It is just above freezing and the snow is melting off my roof. I collected enough rain water for my tropical's for the winter. By Monday were back in the teens.

You have influenced me, once my trees are established the late ripening fruits I will limit water. It doesn't rain enough in late summer here, so some higher sugar content is possible without protection. I may one day look into a greenhouse or hoop house. They are not that expensive. But it makes no sense right now, and only if I decide to increase the trees I have. It's very causal for me at the moment. I just want fruit for family and friends, 10 trees does that. Diversity of fruit is of more interest, grapes, brambles, vegetables. Having a lot of fruit trees is overkill.
So many I would like though, I probably will anyway add more trees in my new place. It really depends how well the current trees do, and if the effort is worth it. So far it's been pretty easy, the vegetables and berries require more work than the trees.
Next year one goal is to grow a number of paste tomatoes to make batches of sauce. Some really excellent tomatoes are out there that grow great here. Many are not good eating fresh, but great for sauce. I ordered a lot of seed, and I also keep seed myself. I needed some new cultivars though for sauce.
I'm also looking at growing more wild fruits, Ribes and Rubus species. They are really great for processing. Unique too!
I want more fruit for processing. I want to look into cling peaches more, with more trees, more will have to be stored, so getting types that store well makes sense.
I'm also interested in starting my own fruit from seeds, brambles, trees etc. Only brambles for now. Trees in the future. Just for fun, it's a hobby for me. Something to do with my time. I don't need to make a living off of it. I'm retiring soon and will have more time.


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 27, 13 at 17:34

mes:

That is an impressive 64 acre greenhouse!!. We have two big tomato operations near here. They cover about 24 acres.

Tomatoes are great for a greenhouse because the same plants yield fruit for 8-10 months straight. That makes for a big yield and they sell for just as much per lb as fruit.

I could probably get about one lb per sq ft annual yield of nectarine/peach if I lowered by quality standards somewhat. That equals about 22 tons per acre. I'd like to know what tomato yield they're getting.


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Fruitnut

Don't know the yield but these supply Costco so production and cost must be favorable

Mike


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RE: DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

Speaking of tomatoes and greenhouses here is a grower in Alabama. A homemade greenhouse.


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The inside. 4 gallon pots.


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The tomatoes...


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More tomatoes...


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Fantastic flower production!


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Good yields!


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FN,

Nice looking green house!. Those fruit trees and grapes looked delicious!.

Drew,

That green house looked more sturdy than the PVCs type. 2X4s are pretty cheap also. For long term I would use treated 2x4s.

Tony


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If anyone is interested in indoor tomato, pepper, cukes etc. growth check out the links below. This system does not submerge the roots in water but rather keeps the roots in a moist but airy environment using perlite or other medium just to support the root system.

BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY..... I was wondering if this method can be up-sized for fruit and...

As an add-on, if it is modified to a "aquaponic" system, active fertilization can also be eliminated and we get fish too.

Search "DUTCH BUCKET" on you tube.... very interesting. See this link and the one below http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXy32Dr4Z4A

Whadya think ???
Mike

Here is a link that might be useful: DUTCH BUCKET SYSTEM HYDROPONIC

This post was edited by mes111 on Sat, Dec 28, 13 at 14:31


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RE: DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

Speaking of greenhouse-grown vegetables, here is my small green house that I built. I planted salad mix lettuce.

The greenhouse was well-built; here in Socal night temperatures (early December) were in the 14s to mid-20s, and to my surprise, the lettuce did not received any frost damage at all.


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Here is my tiny greenhouse:


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Sat, Dec 28, 13 at 15:39

Mike:

The Dutch bucket system might be good for berries. They do well with lots of water. But especially in a greenhouse I think that would be too much water for most of the tree fruits. You'd likely end up with large, low brix fruit.

The hydroponic systems would be very water efficient. At least those that recirculate the water as there would be no waste.


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Nice to be back! I've been lost in the Figgy Forum for some time!!!

Congrats on the recognition Fruitnut, you truly deserve it and are a pioneer in fruit growing. Nice to see the hard work pay off with such a well known nursery paying credit where credit is due. You have inspired many, including my self!!! Keep it up man;)


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RE: DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

Fruit nut
That's just it...

With this method you have absolute control of the moisture.

You have the option of running the droppers as often and as few times per day as you set the pumps timer.

More moisture in spring and early summer and less later.

Just a thought

Mike


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Sat, Dec 28, 13 at 22:45

Mike:

Interesting! I have no idea how the plants would react to limited water under those conditions. It would be interesting to try. And I just read about a small chip you could imbed in the tree to measure water status in real time. The chip is the same as is used to measure air pressure in auto tires as you run down the road. It could make for a fully automated system. One of you young guys should try it!


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Fruitnut...

"One of you young guys"???

I am 62 and I am at that stage in my life where my brain's ideas are like checks that my body can't cash. -G-

Mike

This post was edited by mes111 on Sun, Dec 29, 13 at 1:58


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RE: DWN has a new section on greenhouse fruit production

I finally jumped in. I ordered a few dwarfs yesterday to plant in pots. Most of them will only be brought into the greenhouse when they are in danger of frost. The last 3 will just stay inside the house all winter. Im hoping that most of them will be fine outside for the winter until they bloom.
2 different pluots
japanese plum
nectarine
apricots
pluerry
4 different kinds of sweet cherry
lemons
figs
banana


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Good list jagchaser.The Figs will need about 100-200 chill hours. Brady


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I am having difficulty navigating this website. I found the list of topics but when I click on them they have a list of different discussions but they are not in a particular order, so i am unsure of how to quickly search for something without going threw 50 pages of information to just find one topic. With that being said one of the things I was searching for, is pertaining to the ability to be able to grow certain tropical fruit trees such as mangoes, banana, and dates in zone 8b threw the use of a greenhouse heated with solar panels. I wanted to know is this possible, if so or if not can you be specific. Thanks. I am sorry if this was asked before but i can not figure out how to navigate the forums.


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  • Posted by fruitnut z7b-8a,4500ft SW TX (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 13, 14 at 13:43

You could grow mango and banana in a greenhouse. Dates are too big to my knowledge.

You could use solar panels to offset the power used to heat and cool the greenhouse. But obviously you can't use it directly to heat at night on cold winter days. Solar works very well for cooling. Solar panel output would time exactly to electric needs for cooling right down to the minute. Don't overlook the need for cooling even on sunny winter days. In 8b a greenhouse can hit 120F even in winter with no cooling.


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