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Topic: Tropical Garden in Texas --> Re: +Chocolate Alchemy (10 msgs / 251 lines)
1) From: Michael Vanecek
In the heart of Texas. Not much to it tho, than containerized trees and 
an ever-enlarging hole in the ground. The first pit greenhouse will be 
180' long by 25' wide (at the bottom - 30-35' at the top) and have 
10-12' headroom plus the low hoop-greenhouse cover. I have three other 
tropical greenhouses waiting to be dug. Thankfully it's rather easy 
digging - not stony soil. I'm digging because here in Texas it gets 
hotter and colder than my tropicals prefer and I'll be taking advantage 
of the earth-mass to take some of the edge off. I'll post some pictures 
when I've progressed further.
Cheers,
Mike
Gene Smith wrote:
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2) From: Ben Treichel
Neat, but what are you doing with all that greenhouse?
Michael Vanecek wrote:
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3) From: Michael Vanecek
Call it my play areas. :) The wife gets the areas on either side of the 
house, immediately behind it and the front - and I get the rest. A 
little over an acre to play with for me. So, a garden, and my 
greenhouses, my bamboo (a 300' long, 30+' tall, 15' wide bamboo privacy 
wall currently in the making/growing), little vineyard (a few cabernet 
sauvignon and blanc du bois grapes) and a little water-tank for fish, 
some coldframes for a winter garden and glorified 
coldframes/mini-greenhouses for the pineapple and taro.
The greenhouses are all actually hothouses. One will be citrus and 
olives primarily, so I'd call those coolhouses. Olives can just barely 
be considered hardy in zone 8 - but it can easily swing to the worst, so 
I'll keep them in the coolhouse just in case. They're happier in zone 9. 
  But the citrus and olives won't like the warmer, more humid climate 
that the cacao thrives in, so they'll be seperate.
Then a place to put my nanners, vanilla and cacao, and a place to put 
the coffee and nanners. Coffee and Cacao may or may not occupy the same 
greenhouses - coffee likes it a tad cooler too, so I may dedicate a 
greenhouse just to them as a warmhouse - to mimic high elevation 
tropical conditions - warm days and cool nights. Of course, I hope to 
throw in a mess of other plants and undergrowth and vines - Plumeria, my 
nepenthes and tropical pings, tillandsia, perhaps a groundcover of 
scindapsus and lemongrass - it's largely open to experimentation. More 
or less jungle - planned randomness. :)
A fourth greenhouse will be my propagation area.
I'm hoping to economically build a heat exchanger based on several long 
6" or 8" pipes buried 8' to 10' deep thru which air will be circulated. 
That (the ground is a constant 60F or so down there), some misters from 
my well and some fans along with the bermed earthen walls will be the 
moderating force in keeping the environment fairly constant - each 
utilized where appropriate. My goal is no less than 60F in the winter, 
and no more than 90-95F in the summer for the cacao. A little cooler 
summers for the coffea. Shade-cloths will help in the summer to take the 
scalding edge off the sun. I'm more concerned with the hot summers than 
the winters here. So far this winter, we haven't had a freezing day - 
just a few freezing nights, so it's fairly mild. We can have short 
cold-snaps tho. I may set up some 55 gallon drums of water as "heat 
batteries" to help if it gets nasty. As always, a kerosene heater will 
be available in the event of emergencies. Misting will also help keep it 
warmer in there - 60F water's a bunch warmer than 15F air and the 
humidity will help retain the heat better.
We're approximately 11 degrees north of the Tropic of Cancer, IIRC. With 
just a little tweaking to take the low and high edges off, I can fairly 
closely mimic environments that these plants like. I've been doing it on 
a small scale for years. Now that I've got some land, I'll do it on a 
larger scale. Gonna enjoy setting up the lawn chair under the banana 
trees, drinking orange-juice from the citrus grove and watching the 
cacao flower. :)
Inspiration comes from a fella in Nebraska who built a long slightly 
bermed greenhouse cooled and heated via similar tubes - he grows citrus 
and other tropicals in it without any trouble or artifical heating and 
cooling.
Cheers,
Mike
Rather be in Hawaii, but the wife likes it here...
Ben Treichel wrote:
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4) From: Michael Vanecek
I'll use the traditional poly for the hoop-house covers. For now anyway. 
That's the cheapest.
Cheers,
Mike
gin wrote:
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5) From: Ben Treichel
The pipes should work for cooling. Gravel works well for thermal mass. 
Neat project.
Michael Vanecek wrote:
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6) From: Bill Martin
You need a photographer!
When you make up your mind to that, send me a R/T ticket, and I'll 
bring my photo gear and dog.  Plan to stay at least a week.
Then you can come stay in the guest cabin here on the Big Island for a 
couple weeks.
Bill
On Feb 7, 2004, at 6:40 PM, Michael Vanecek wrote:
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 From the fertile slopes of Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island

7) From: Michael Vanecek
Cool. I'll just tuck my hassy and omega 45d back into the closet then. 
Until the trip to Hawaii, that is. :)
Cheers,
Mike
Bill Martin wrote:
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8) From: Bill Martin
Well, if you have all that....  do you have a website where you are 
publishing pics of all this botanical activity??
bill
On Feb 8, 2004, at 6:36 AM, Michael Vanecek wrote:
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 From the fertile slopes of Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island

9) From: Michael Vanecek
I will on my home page at mjv.com when I rewrite it and transfer pics 
and info from a couple of other domains I recently closed down. I picked 
up an autobellows for the hassy so I can catch the cacao flowers when 
they come in. Can't wait. I think all that's on the website now are pics 
of my silkworms, IIRC. Oh yeah - I do sikworms as well - thanks to a few 
mulberry trees on our property and the aquasition of bombyx mori eggs a 
couple years ago. They're prolific - two years now and I've got perhaps 
50 to 60 thousand eggs. But they eat a mess of mulberry leaves. Just a 
curiousity hobby gone haywire.
But, one hundred steps at a time. :)
Right now my office is the jungle - should at least get some pics of 
that. :) I feel like I'm in a plant cockpit. Pepper, garlic, coffee, 
scindapsus vining all over, all 36 cacao seedlings, my nepenthes and 
pings, some VFT's I'm rehabilitating for my boss (a grocer - closed down 
the computer business last summer), tillandsia, pineapple starts and 
ginger I'm hoping will come out of dormancy. Thanks for a southern 
exposure. :) I've actually got lotsa undeveloped film - waiting for the 
money to start getting them developed. My gardens have taken priority 
financially right now - so it'll be later on.
My wife is nearing the end of her patience with tripping over the plants 
in front of the big window tho - they wouldn't fit in here - the 3 
larger cacaos and my lemongrasss, so it's fortunate that Spring is 
around the corner so I can put them back outside.
I've been digging when weather permits - it's easy going, but still a 
lot of dirt to move. I'm digging in sections - the first 25' is what's 
being dug now and where the containerized trees will reside while I dig 
the rest. Hopefully that'll be complete in a couple of weeks or three. 
My poor banana tree's about ready to break out of its container. :) The 
cacao seedlings get repotted this Spring - perhaps next month - into 
larger containers pending planting out hopefully in the fall. The other 
three may have their soil refreshed in their containers. As to watering 
I've already got the drip irrigation equipment - my little vineyard's on 
drip so I've got lotsa extras. I'm hoping to sell some coffee seedlings 
at local fairs to generate a little extra cash for my hobby to speed 
things up... But, there's actually very little money needed. It's 
basically just a hole in the ground that's covered with poly. With a few 
tweaks. Misters are very cheap. I think PVC piping and poly will be 
about the most expensive components.
Cheers,
Mike
Bill Martin wrote:
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10) From: Dave Huddle
Mike,
If you REALLY want to show photos of your flower, etc.  you NEED a
Realist, or a Revere 33, maybe a Fed BOY or even a Sputnik.
For close ups, the Realist Macro Stereo would be the choice.   Focused at
4.5 inches, stopped down to f/25 - lots of depth-of-field.
These are all stereo (3D) cameras.  Most of them made in the
'50s-'60s.
To get back to the subject of this list,  I guess I should shoot stereo
photos of my roasters, grinders and brewers.
Dave    Westerville, OH
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