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Author Topic: Starting over after a housefire  (Read 1121 times)

TNAndy

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Starting over after a housefire
« on: July 09, 2017, 03:25:03 PM »
In fact, it was a double-whammy. 

My house caught fire February 5, 2016.  After the fire department put out the fire, I was able to rescue a few dozen plants from the freezing weather; mostly coffee tree sprouts.  My wife and I moved into my Mom's condo...in Gatlinburg, TN...

...Where we got burned out again in the wildfires on November 28, 2016.  This time I lost every plant except a tiny cutting of vanilla orchid which I happened to take with me when we left for Thanksgiving.

(As an aside, if you don't KNOW you have "Replacement of Contents" coverage, call your insurance agent ASAP and get it.  We had it, and they even paid on my tropical plants!)

I'm trying to remain positive, which is why I'm looking at this as an opportunity to grow some different things in addition to replacing the plants that did well in the old sunroom.  The good news is my new house has a larger sunroom with a higher ceiling than the old house did.  While we were able to salvage and reuse much of the old plate glass, it is now being used in a more efficient way.  In the old house, a foot and a half of the glass was overhang and was thus wasted for light transmission.  Now almost the whole pane is open to the sky.

Barring further delays (delays are likely because of the massive amount of reconstruction in the county--contractors are swamped) we should be able to move back in within a month.

I'm not asking for pity, but I certainly would appreciate suggestions for sources of replacement plants as well as recommendations for new plant varieties to try.  Everything must be suitable for containers because without the shades, the south-facing sunroom turns into an oven in the summer.  With the shades, the sunroom is too dark for plants.  Plus, I like to roll everything outside so it can enjoy the humidity, natural sun and rain.  (I mount my huge and large pots on casters.)

1) Coffee.  My Hawaiian seed vendor has moved to Georgia and was unable to suggest an alternative.  I would like to buy a hundred or so Kona Typica seeds from a very recent harvest, still in parchment and not too dry.  Right now there's still time to get them to sprout, but past experience has shown that August is too late.  I'd love to find some Jamaica Blue Mountain seeds or plants, but I'm not holding my breath.  By the way, my previous coffee trees were surprisingly productive, and I was able to process, roast, grind, and brew some of the best coffee I ever tasted from my own plants.  It will be 4-5 years before I'll be able to do that again, but I'm REALLY looking forward to that day.

2) Banana.  Due to the old ceiling height, the only variety I was able to grow to flower and fruit was Super Dwarf Cavendish.  I'm pretty sure I want another SDC because of previous success, but I could now also grow something a bit taller.  Can you suggest a particularly tasty banana that is under, say, 10 feet/3 meters tall?  Does anyone endorse Dwarf Jamaican Red?

3) Allspice.  I had to top my allspice tree each year to get it to fit through the old door.  That could be why it only flowered once.  The new doors are 8 feet high.  It would be so cool to get some allspice berries.  Allspice is native to Jamaica.

4) Jamaica Cherry.  I think I'd like to try this one for the first time.  Are there any opinions to the contrary?

5) June Plum.  This one was recommended in a previous thread as good for container gardening.  June Plum was introduced into Jamaica in 1782.  (Anyone sensing a theme here?)  Are there any particularly sweet varieties?

6) Mango.  I never had room for a mango before, but I had been considering a Pickering if some space ever opened up.  Space has opened up.

7) Papaya.  I had grown a TR Hovey, but it didn't fruit nearly as much as I had hoped--and the plant looked nothing like the pictures!  Try that one again or something else?  Maybe I didn't fertilize it enough.

8 ) Citrus.  I had a Meyer lemon, a Key lime, and a Satsuma orange.  All three produced well when fertilized properly, but tended to get scale over the winter.

9) Acerola.  I seem to recall having varieties named Florida Sweet and Manoa Sweet.  I have a sweet tooth, so the more sugar and less acid, the better.

10) Olive.  I think I had an Arbequina.  I've read olives must be cured, or pickled, or something before they are edible, but my wife and I love olives in marinara sauce on spaghetti.  If not Arbequina, what do you recommend?

11) Surinam cherry.  Are there any particularly sweet varieties?

12) Other spices:  I'd love to try cloves and nutmeg again.  Unfortunately, they are both incredibly tender and even moderate temperatures will kill them.  Hopefully I will have better climate control in the new sunroom.  I'll monitor the temperatures over the winter and decide next year.

Please feel free to suggest any other tasty tropical or sub-tropical fruit.

Thanks!
Andy

simon_grow

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Re: Starting over after a housefire
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2017, 04:04:21 PM »
I'm sorry you had to go through the two fires but I'm glad your insurance covered it.

Have you ever tried to grow Pineapples? These White Pineapples are not your typical store bought Pineapples. They are very low acid and taste ultra sweet with a soft edible core. The plants are absolutely beautiful and the flowers are amazing and look out of this world. Check out these two threads if you are interested in White Pineapples.
http://tropicalfruitforum.com/index.php?topic=9296.0
http://tropicalfruitforum.com/index.php?topic=23668.0

Simon

TNAndy

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Re: Starting over after a housefire
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2017, 04:31:27 PM »
Thanks, Simon.

I've grown one pineapple.  I don't remember the variety, but I think it was variegated with red streaks in the leaves.  The only problem was once it grew large, walking past it was like trying to dodge a buzz saw.  But I love pineapple fruit, especially the dried stuff.  I eat it like candy.  the white ones sound very interesting and tasty.

simon_grow

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Re: Starting over after a housefire
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2017, 08:00:58 PM »
The White Jade is thornless so it will not be as poky although the leaf tops do come to a point. You may also want to try growing miracle fruit. Miracle fruit can make sour stuff, especially fruit, taste very sweet. It's a good way to cut back on sugar. I make lemonade for my family with just lemon juice and water but we pop a miracle fruit first and the sugar less lemonade tastes sweet for about thirty minutes. It's a lot of fun to sample sour stuff with friends and family after eating a miracle fruit.

Simon

TonyinCC

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Re: Starting over after a housefire
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2017, 10:36:04 PM »
I would add one citrus, Meiwa kumquat. Slow grower, get the biggest one you can.
 I had a potted Eureka lemon years ago that had fragrant blooms almost year round. I used to use a crushed leaf as a substitute for a lemon wedge in drinks if I was out of lemons at any given moment.
Ditch the papaya unless you can find a dwarf, most papayas grow very tall. Even a dwarf might be too tall after a year or so.
Get a Bell Carambola  (starfruit). The only readily available variety that is worth growing and eating IMO.
The Jamaican cherry is a very fast growing tree, mine got to 20 feet with about the same spread and a trunk a half foot thick in about a year in the ground. I guess you could bonsai one but its roots dry out quick and I think it would get water stressed easily, the leaves wilt easily if in a pot. The one I had was trying to wilt daily in a 3 gallon pot despite being watered often until I got it planted in the ground. Even then it acted drought stressed for months before it took off like Jack's beanstalk.  Attractive tree and fruit is good to nibble on but don't expect large harvests. Could potentially be a bonsai showpiece if you could figure out the right balance of moisture, pruning, and soil to limit growth, but I think it would be difficult and maybe not worth the space. Would be a really pretty atrium tree in a shopping mall if it didn't drop fruit everywhere.
Sambac jasmine is not really an edible unless you add the blossoms to tea but you won't regret having one.
 Grumichama is an attractive plant with cherrylike fruit.
Miracle fruit is a must. 

LivingParadise

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Re: Starting over after a housefire
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2017, 08:32:08 AM »
Wow, so sorry to hear you went through all that! That is just awful...

If you have control over climate, consider:
*Australian Beach Cherry

*Miracle Fruit (especially since you have a sweet tooth!)

*I second the spineless pineapple idea. Grab a few tops from store bought varieties, those are usually spineless, and easy to come by...

*Calamondin - easy to fruit citrus at a tiny size, beautiful to look at, flowers also edible

*Since you're looking at trees, and like sweet, sugar apple is also easy to fruit at a small size

*I haven't reached fruiting size yet, but peanut butter tree is also able to fruit small

*Goji berry is easy to fruit small and you can eat both the leaves and fruit, plus it can handle colder temps

*Maybe you can make passionfruit happen? That's easy to conform to whatever size and shape you want to fit the house

*Mulberries can also fruit small, and tolerate cold temps


Good luck! It's nice to hear SOMEBODY got something worthwhile out of their insurance! Hazard insurances down here are required, and are as expensive as the mortgage. I've had to pay more for insurance than I will likely ever get back, even in a Cat 5 hurricane. They cap interior replacement fairly low, so I would hit the max and then still have to pay out of pocket. Definitely wish I had the option to toss it and self-insure, since I have to pay double the mortgage I signed onto and they're constantly increasing the costs, but I'll get very little potential benefit from it. That's what comes of choosing to live in a region that nobody will insure though... you don't get a choice. Really nice to hear it actually covered something for somebody so they could rebuild their life, which is how it is supposed to work...

 

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