[nafex] Pushing the zone limitations

Jay Cutts orders at cuttsreviews.com
Sun Nov 22 15:57:59 EST 2020

I wanted to report on my experiments with pushing to grow plants that 
are just a touch too tender for my climate.

I'm in New Mexico, just south of Albuquerque. Lots of microclimate 
variation, so hard to say what zone we are. Last winter our lowest temps 
were maybe close to zero. The winter before that maybe 5 degrees colder.

1. Figs - We live in an old adobe house with mud walls that are about 
18" thick. I have fig trees planted close to the south side of the 
house. I build up a small straw bale wall around the figs in the winter 
and cover the plants with a tree bag. So far (two years) this has 
protected most of the top of the plants. Don't know what will happen 
when the tops get too tall to protect, though in other locations I've 
seen them better able to withstand lower temperatures once they get bigger.

2. Citrus trees - I've got a yuzu tree on the west side of the house 
just a few feet from the wall of the house. It's supposed to be fine 
down to zero. It's still small and I put straw bales around it. So far, 
so good.

I also have two satsuma trees planted in the ground on the south side of 
the house BUT they are inside a lean-to greenhouse that I remove in the 
warm months. It doesn't get below freezing in the greenhouse and the two 
plants are doing fine. The greenhouse can get over 110 degrees when the 
sun is shining in the mid part of the day. We draw the hot, fragrant air 
into the house.

3. Pomegranates - I've had three in the ground over the past two 
winters. They are going into their third. So far the tops have not 
survived but I think I'll have better luck this year. I cover them with 
a couple layers of tree bags and have an outdoor halogen spotlight 
inside the bag on a thermostatic control that turns it on at 20 degrees. 
I'm pretty sure that in the past two winters the temperatures weren't 
cold enough to kill the tops. My theory is that the young branches were 
just too thin and vulnerable to drying out .

This year the branches are bigger and I have built a temporary wall of 
straw bales around the entire planting, along with the previous 
precautions. So far the low temperatures inside those tree bags is 10-20 
degrees warmer than out in the open. And the humidity is higher.

I think the combo of a temporary straw bale wall, tree bags and halogen 
spotlights (they are very hot)) on thermostats could allow us to push 
the zone limits, if you're obsessed enough about plants from warmer 




Jay Cutts
Director, Cutts Graduate Reviews
Lead Author, Barron's MCAT Prep Book
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