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Greenhouse for the winter

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by virtualhabitat, Jan 8, 2015.

  1. virtualhabitat

    virtualhabitat Lore Keeper
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    So I bought a pipe bender and made this greenhouse out of EMT (Electrical metallic tubing) and 6 mil uv poly plastic.

    I live in Central Texas so I really only have to worry about occasional freezes such as tonight where the temp is around 23 F.

    I kind of hurried on this one, it took only a day because I was trying to beat the arrival of a cold snap. Originally this was built to house my curry leaf trees. My tallest one is now 7 feet and two others are pushing 6'. They don't fit inside the house anymore!

    The photos were taken right before I quit working on it so it doesn't have any plants inside. The 'apron' of plastic on the ground is tucked inside now as well. Later I moved a dozen curry leaf trees into it.

    Note that it is very close to the corner of the house. There is a dryer vent right there about 2.5 feet away.. I have added some dryer duct and it now pumps warm humid air when we wash clothes on a cold night. As I type this it's 23 degrees, but it's 51 inside the greenhouse. I noticed you can even see the back of the dryer in the window on the second pic.

    We are doing a lot of laundry this week.

    For summer I intend to remove the plastic and install a shade cloth for the curries.

    Sorry about my messy backyard. You can see I don't like mowing grass. You can also see a couple of beehives in that one photo. One is empty (the closer one with the lid on the ground next to it) and the other one further back has bees inside. The other two beehives are almost perfectly blocked from view by the pecan tree.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It's roughly 10x10 and about 8.5' tall in the center.

    With the table included I used 28 pieces of 10' EMT conduit, about 200 screws, 1 4x8 plywood for the table top, 24x24 sheet of 6 mil uv poly plastic and a few pipe fittings and some plastic clamps to hold the poly-plastic to the frame.
    Took about 6 hours by myself.

    Next winter I will plant some cabbages and maybe some swiss chard -seems a shame to use it just for curry leaf trees.

    Just curious, do you know what a curry leaf tree is?
     
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  2. Kolka

    Kolka Babbling Loonie
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    I know what curry is (it's delicious) , but would love to see what a curry leaf tree looks like. It is the leaf I am assuming that is used to make curry? How big do these trees get ultimately? Are they productive in a pot, or do you eventually need to plant them in the ground?
     
  3. Captn Norrington

    Captn Norrington Trade Forum Administrator
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    I really love your threads, each time I see a new one I get the "ooh cool I get to learn something today" feeling hehe. Thank you for posting them :)

    No idea what a curry leaf tree is, but like Kolka I assume it's the plant that's made into curry.
     
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  4. virtualhabitat

    virtualhabitat Lore Keeper
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    This is a not-so good pic of one of my curry leaf trees. It is two years old. It looks funny because we pluck leaves from them all the time to cook with and it hasn't been pruned yet so it still looks all spindley and skinny. There is a bit of peppermint growing in the pot with it to ward off pests.

    In the pic you can see it is getting crowded in the laundry room, as there are a half dozen more plants that get stuffed into that space when the temps drop too low. Plus a few are getting too tall now for the house. There is a smaller one in the foreground I put into a pot over last summer.

    [​IMG]

    After pruning it will look more bushy in a year or two.

    like this one growing in someone's yard in Australia:

    [​IMG]

    Mine will likely never be so lush as Texas is not quite the right climate. Too cold in winter and too hot in summer.

    Anyway, yes, curry leaf trees are used to make curries. That curry powder you see in stores? Think of curry powder as you would french vanilla -french vanilla is neither French or vanilla. Likewise, curry powder is the creation of the British trying to simulate the flavors of India without actually using the flavors of India.

    I will post a good example of something we eat using curry leaves presently. When you crush a fresh leaf it has a pleasant aroma with slight hint of citrus and it adds a distinctive savory flavor to food.

    They will grow in a pot indefinitely or you can plant them in the ground. I will probably plant my largest one in the ground after another 2 or 3 years. They are treated very much like citrus trees as far as soil and nutrients are concerned. Once mature it will survive a few freezes over winter.

    Currently I have two of three possible varieties. I have one Regular tree and the rest are Gamthi trees. I am still looking for a Dwarf tree.
     
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  5. Kolka

    Kolka Babbling Loonie
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    Very nice. I had been thinking of the curry powder by the way. I will have to ask my wife if she recognizes the plant; there seems to be a lot of overlap between (in ingredients anyway) Indian and South Asian foods.

    you mentioned shade cloth. Do these grow well in shade? They seem to be the type of tree that can be kept a shrub with pruning, correct?
     
  6. virtualhabitat

    virtualhabitat Lore Keeper
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    Aye, quite a lot of overlap.

    I found this translation to Vietnamese... I have no idea if it will mean anything but...
    Cà ri, Lá cà ri, Chùm hôi trắng, Xan tróc, Cơm nguội, Ngệt quới koenig
    Cari, La ca ri, Chum hoi trang, Xan troc, Com nguoi, Nget quoi koenig

    Well, in the tropics it is hot/warm and humid all year round, but not extremely so. Here in Texas, like most of the continental US, we have extremes. So while the curry leaf like it warm it doesn't like 100+ temps which is what Texas is all summer long. Likewise we get a few hard freezes during winter. A dozen days or so out of the year where the temps go below freezing. Plus a couple of months where the temps are in the 40's and 50's. We also have dramatic fluctuations in humidity.

    In the tropics it stays around 80 to 90 degrees +/- year round with maybe a few days dipping into the 70's.

    In tropical conditions curry leaf trees can get to about 20' tall. I know a guy in Dallas that has one in the ground for 10 years and it stopped growing at about 5 feet. Dallas is colder than where I am.

    This summer I will grow them under shade. My tall plant was in the shade (shade from the house) last summer and did better than the ones left in full sun. I'll just take off the plastic and put up a shade cloth and leave them under it during the hottest part of the summer.

    If you prune it it will bush out like the pic above. Otherwise it will just grow tall with a straight central trunk and branch out like a normal tree.

    Just South of my location, about 45 minutes, There are stunted numerous 4-5 foot tall papaya trees with full size fruits growing on the Alamo grounds. (yes, the same Alamo you are thinking of) So growing tropicals isn't impossible here, they just don't grow quite as large. Normally papayas would easily grow 20 feet or more in the tropics. Here's a pic of one at the Alamo:

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Kolka

    Kolka Babbling Loonie
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    Thank you. I have tried growing numerous tropical fruits and vegetables in Wisconsin by bringing them into the sunroom in the winter. They survive but don't thrive, I think both because of the temperatures and the diminished light.
    We also have a home in Puerto Rico that has a small yard and conveniently enough a large flat walkout roof. So over the years we have started planting some of the hard-to-find-fresh tropical fruits, vegetables, and herbs in the yard and in planter boxes I made on the roof.
    Ironically, I also have a papaya tree. It is currently about 20 feet tall, and less than 2 years old. It is constantly fruiting, although so far only the birds have had them. And I had to laugh at the mint in the curry leaf tree pot - every potted tree that I have ends up looking like that, although with coriander or fish-leaf.
     
  8. virtualhabitat

    virtualhabitat Lore Keeper
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    Ahh Wisconsin. It would be difficult unless you spent a small fortune heating a real, double wall greenhouse to grow anything tropical. Now your island home... I would imagine a curry leaf would do nicely there. All sorts of things you could grow in Puerto Rico. Mangos, Jackfruit. Have you ever had Jackfruit? It was unbelievable the first time I had it. Juicy Fruit gum! I never knew.

    My wife wants a papaya tree. I suppose I'll plant one sooner or later.
     
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  9. Kolka

    Kolka Babbling Loonie
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    Yes! in fact I have a mango tree, and it is currently flowering. And last year we me a guy who farms tropical fruit on the mountain, and he was nice enough to let us tour his farm. we have been back several times since then, the latest being about a week ago. Here is the Jackfruit we just ate (next to a local orange for scale):

    pr new years 2014 178.JPG

    It is a large tree, but we did plant some of the seeds nonetheless. There is a similar fruit called durian:
    kim's phone 2866.JPG
    It has a very pungent odor, but actually tastes very good. This was in October of this year:

    nov2014pr 022.JPG
    Thats Longan, rambutan and pulasan. Depending on the season, there are dozens of different fruits that are avaiable, some of which I didn't know even existed. (OK most).

    And you are right about the tropicals; about two years ago I got three 6 inch tall pandan plants, two of which I took to Puerto Rico, one I left here. The Puerto Rican ones are now about 3-4 feet tall; the Wisconsin one about 8 inches. I'm pretty sure it's just dying a slow death.
     
    #9 Kolka, Jan 9, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2015
  10. virtualhabitat

    virtualhabitat Lore Keeper
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    envy. I recently had Jackfruit BBQ. It was prepared like brisket and seasoned with BBQ sauce. It was really good. And a mango tree. Do you guys eat green mangos with hot chilis or salty pickle?
     
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  11. Kolka

    Kolka Babbling Loonie
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    My wife will use green mangoes shredded in a salad type dish with beef, but I haven't seen it with the chilis or pickle. Likewise I have never seen jackfruit cooked (although she will steam the seeds and eat them like you would steamed peanuts), but I have seen other fruits like plantains or breadfruit cooked, although usually fried or baked. It always amazes me how some of these things can be used in so many different ways.

    As long as we have hijacked your thread anyway, can you guess what this is?

    kim's phone 2007.JPG
     
  12. virtualhabitat

    virtualhabitat Lore Keeper
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    Mangosteen! It grows in PR?
    Aye my wife makes really good food from stuff that is really weird sometimes. She said try stir-frying the Jackfruit seeds in coconut oil and add salt and whatever spices. she said y'all would love it.

    We eat plantains with butter or cheese 3 or 4 times a week. Usually as a snack-between meal thing. Sometimes she fries them as chips.
     
  13. Kolka

    Kolka Babbling Loonie
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    heh, we'll have to try the stir fried jackfruit seed thing, sounds pretty good.

    And yeah, Puerto Rico is one of the few places that mangosteen will grow well. But very, very slow growing plant, and very touchy, especially early on. Here is one I planted about 3 years ago from seed. It is only about 8 inches tall: jan6 2015 009.JPG

    And here are some full grown trees at the previously mentioned mountain farm . It's not a very large tree, so I hope to be able to grow it to fruiting size in my little back yard. And that it does so sometime in my lifetime. pr new years 2014 081.JPG
     
  14. virtualhabitat

    virtualhabitat Lore Keeper
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    very cool!
    I've been showing my wife little houses for sale in PR.. I saw a really cheap shack with some land pretty cheap. How are the taxes there? I read somewhere recently they made taxes better, but not sure if the benefits trickle down to the little people.
     
  15. Kolka

    Kolka Babbling Loonie
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    Property taxes are actually low, and for primary residences under 150k, there is no property tax. This doesn't help you or me, but even so my PR property tax ends up being about half of what my WI property taxes are despite the PR property being assessed higher. For residents (which is somewhat tricky, and strict) there also is no federal income tax, and a "state" income tax of something like 7%. The tax you are referring to being lowered, I think, is the one on businesses in an effort to lure more of them them to the island. Lack of job opportunities is a problem, and they have seen a lot of their young/productive residents leave for the states (especially Florida and Texas) where there are better economies.

    Other things such as food, gas, electricity, etc can be quite a bit more expensive than the states.

    There is also a sort of "island mentality" to everything that takes some getting used to. Need a plumber? he will be there Thursday, maybe Friday (shows up on Tuesday). Having my house painted took 3 months. It's almost as if everyone there is a government employee, only without the bad attitude and constant scowl.

    And that may be the best thing - the people there are always nice - going to the farm the first time I overshot it by a km or so. The owner,who we had only just met through a mutual friend, got in his truck and came to get us and lead us back, then took half a day showing us around his farm while we asked questions and took pictures and ate fruit (I should say he is a wholesaler - Panoramic Fruit Company - that doesn't generally sell to individuals and therefore had nothing to gain by doing this).

    The fact that it is always sunny, tropical and currently 80 degrees warmer than here is nice too.
     
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  16. Captn Norrington

    Captn Norrington Trade Forum Administrator
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    That's what it's like here in South Florida anyway lol. I can't remember a single time in the last decade any sort of contractor has not been late for the appointment.
     
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  17. Kolka

    Kolka Babbling Loonie
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    South Florida, huh? Lots will grow in south Florida, more so than even Texas I would imagine. *waits for pictures*
     
  18. virtualhabitat

    virtualhabitat Lore Keeper
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    My wife wants a place in South Florida, but she said something in PR might be nice if it were away from the beach. She doesn't trust the ocean.
     
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  19. Kolka

    Kolka Babbling Loonie
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    Ocean view is very expensive, anywhere. There is a lot more upkeep as well, as the salt spray coats everything and corrodes metal (railings, light fixtures, etc) fairly quickly. For my part, we live about a 5 minute walk from the beach - close enough to get there easily, far enough away to avoid the higher costs and hassles.

    Strangely enough, when we were looking for a vacation home we looked in south(ish) Florida first - we have a friend that lives somewhere between Tampa and Miami - it had a lot of what we were looking for - tropical/subtropical climate, easy to get to, near people we know. Not sure about the alligators though. In any event, fate intervened and we ended up in PR instead.
     
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  20. Captn Norrington

    Captn Norrington Trade Forum Administrator
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    Alligators are just a part of life down here, people aren't even really surprised to see them after living here long enough. I remember this one time a friend and I were golfing and his ball landed near what we thought was a decorative statue of an alligator....well....turned out to be a real 10 foot alligator sunning itself on the golf course after it had crawled out of a nearby lake. He actually tried to get his ball back from it to....lol.
     
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  21. old gypsy

    old gypsy Grand Poobah
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    Love your gardening adventures! :)

    I live in west central Florida and I always tell people that if I ever move again, it will be south (as mild as it is here, I don't like cold to any degree). Latest project on my small city lot is gradually changing to permaculture and keyhole gardening. Nothing as impressive as your stuff, though!
     
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  22. Kolka

    Kolka Babbling Loonie
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    pictures? would especially like to see the keyhole garden.
     
  23. old gypsy

    old gypsy Grand Poobah
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    This is how the keyhole looked on Dec. 28th... the veggies are a lot bigger now! :) I'll be taking more pictures soon.

    [​IMG]
     
  24. Kolka

    Kolka Babbling Loonie
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    very nice!
    So the round thing in the middle is a hole for compost/kitchen waste/etc?
     
  25. old gypsy

    old gypsy Grand Poobah
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    Yes. All the little kitchen scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc. go into the basket. Since I started doing this, I've discovered earthworms are setting up housekeeping in the bed. The system basically feeds itself as it matures.
     
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  26. Kolka

    Kolka Babbling Loonie
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    How old is the garden pictured? If I understand correctly, it gets taller over time?
     
  27. old gypsy

    old gypsy Grand Poobah
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    I built this keyhole garden this past fall, actually. It's essentially a raised bed with an indent for easy access to the center. I planted seeds (not seedlings) directly into the soil once it was finished. You can make a keyhole garden any height you choose. I plan to add another layer of bricks in the spring and build the soil a little higher. In theory, the constant addition of organic matter to the center aids in building more soil over the long haul.
     
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  28. old gypsy

    old gypsy Grand Poobah
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    In fact, this particular garden is a combination keyhole bed plus hugelkultur. The spot I built it on was once a small wildlife pond I'd dug into the ground a few years ago. I removed the pond liner, filled in the hole with organic materials (small logs, branches, wood chips, cardboard, newspapers, compost, etc.) Then I built the keyhole with old bricks a friend was getting rid of. I added more organic materials & compost, and topped it off with organic soil mix from Home Depot.
     
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