[NAFEX] pineapple question

Donna &/or Kieran holycow at cookeville.com
Sat Jul 7 10:19:16 EDT 2007

    My mom has no trouble growing pineapples in central Fla.  I think so long as you keep them from freezing that you should have fruit eventually, they may just take longer than usual.  I am really impressed with the notion of growing them as far north as you are, I think you are really clever.  See, the trouble is that true tropicals are dead with the first whiff of frost, yet they have to get pretty big to make any fruit and so that means either a greenhouse of some size or dragging the pots in and out as you are doing.  But with something down on the ground like pinapples, you are operating on the same kind of system I use in TN to grow greens all winter.  You use the heat of the ground and a cover to protect them, very cheap and really quite reliable, even if you have a terrible cold spell and have to drag out extra blankets.  
    I think it's merely a matter of time waiting for the fruits on top to grow.  It's all vegetative propagation, no flowers involved.   The only problem you'll have is if they don't ripen before your winter arrives, as they will be sticking up further when bigger.  On the subject of your frost protection, when in a cold spell there's no need at all to roll up your cloth, it actually helps warm the ground more to leave it on.  If it was plastic, you'd be in big trouble, but anything that breathes is safe.  I keep nylon curtains on my greens all winter long, adding old sheets on top when it gets too cold.   I think this will save you lots of trouble.  
    Also, the subtropicals are going to do a lot better for you I think than the true tropicals like mangoes and papayas.  I'd actually like to hear how they perform long term.  Any of the citrus except limes and true lemons aren't going to mind a bit of frost, they are pretty much good down to 28 if they've had cool weather to harden them off.  This might save you some dragging in and out.  Actually Chris Inhulsen has some citrus in Montezuma GA, he goes through a lot of trouble to protect from cold spells, but his trees are in the ground so they are bigger than what you can grow in pots.  If you will select carefully, in fact, you'll have to take up budding to do it, you can grow some pretty nice citrus where you are.  Choose Swingle rootstock and graft on Kinkoji aka Kimkoji and all the satsumas the budwood station has.  Also of course Meiwa kumquat and probably Hirado Buntan pummelo.         Donna 
P.S.  I remember some NAFEXer who was growing a peach tree horizontally in some northern state, the snow would cover the tree and keep it reasonably warm.  Maybe you could figure out some way to simply lay your potted trees on their side and cover them, then heave them back into place when the cold passed.  
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