Finca Dos Gatos: 2015 update

by JulieCraves on July 10, 2015

Regular readers may recall that I have done a series of posts on my experiment with growing coffee here at home. All of our trees were ready-to-harvestgrown from seed collected at various coffee farms we have visited in our travels. In honor of our two cats, we named our growing collection “Finca Dos Gatos.” Past posts are:

Since that last post, we moved, necessitating some adjustments to our set-up. Mainly, it was getting hard to manage the larger trees. So we have given a number of them away, including a couple to people who have greenhouses. I left myself with a few favorites.

The current inventory consists of:

Recently stumped coffee tree.

Recently stumped coffee tree.

  • Two trees from Finca Hartmann, Santa Clara, Panama, 2008. I have already had to prune (behead) both of these, they were just getting too large. One I’ve done twice, the last time just recently; it is currently a stump. The other I did last year, and it has a lot of new growth.
  • Finca Esperanza Verde, San Ramon, Nicaragua, 2009. One large tree from which we just harvested a crop of cherries.
  • El Jaguar, Jinotega, Nicaragua, 2011. A yellow caturra or catuai.
  • Selva Negra, Jinotega, Nicaragua, 2011. From a feral plant growing in the cloud forest reserve there, along the exact part of the trail where I saw my first Resplendent Quetzals.
  • A stumped tree after about a year of re-growth.

    A stumped tree after about a year of re-growth.

    Near Pico Bonito, outside La Ceiba, Honduras, 2011. This is a catimor that was growing at a lower elevation.

  • A couple of seedlings from some of the fruit I harvested.

Some new lessons

One critical issue I ran into after the move was water. We have well water here with a very high iron and mineral content, so it goes through a water softener. With everything that was going on, I did not give this proper consideration, and after a few months of watering with the softened water, the plants really suffered. I didn’t do lasting damage, but did end up watering only with rain water or jugs of good old Detroit city water I lugged home from work.

New growth on the catimor is a nice bronze color.

New growth on the catimor is a nice bronze color.

We still put the coffee outside in the summer, but our deck faces west and gets sun even under the overhang late in the day. I have learned that just like the veggies started indoors, coffee needs to be “hardened off” when going outside. They need protection from direct sunlight for a couple weeks; the leaves scorch easily. After awhile they can stand more sun, but not for long periods, especially in hot weather.

Finally, they still live under lights from about September through May. My previous system used four 6500K blue lights in a Sun Blaze fluorescent fixture. To induce blooming, I withheld most water for a few weeks, then watered like crazy, and switched out half the lights to 3000K red spectrum bulbs. Now that I have fewer trees and a nice room that gets good sunlight, I use just a single full-spectrum 60 watt bulb hanging within two feet of the trees. This is a great, inexpensive alternative, especially if you have only a few plants. The four-foot fixture provides more even and brighter light, but my southern exposure makes up the difference.

I’ve had plenty of fruit from these trees, although any given harvest isn’t really enough to roast itself. I’ve accumulated enough now that we could make a couple cups, but given that some of the green beans have been sitting in a cupboard for a couple years, I’m not sure how tasty the final result would be. Once the younger trees start producing good crops in two years, I’ll coordinate the flowering of all of them and see if I can’t do a proper harvest, processing, roasting, and tasting!

cherry

The latest pickings.

 

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