Backyard Coffee - Grow Your Own

February 16, 2011

Do you have a green thumb? If so, and if you live within the latitudes between 28 degrees north and 30 degrees south of the equator, you can grow a coffee plant or two in your yard. Noris Ledesma of Florida’s Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden explains the how-to’s in a recent Miami Herald. For southern Florida, Ledesma finds Arabica to be the most suitable coffee. The seeds or seedlings should be planted in a partially shaded spot protected from the wind. The soil should first be enriched using a thick mulch of compost and manure, which minimizes weeds. The plants will need watering at least once a week during dry weather. During cold weather, the young plants need to be covered with a blanket on stakes or a cardboard box, as long as the covering doesn’t touch the leaves. Water the soil well. Unless you want organic coffee, a granular fertilizer such as an 8-3-9 formulation can be lightly applied below the drip line in June-August. Also during those months, a foliar minor element spray and chelated iron drench are recommended for optimal growth. Coffee trees have potential for long lives, between fifty to seventy years, so this will be a long-term relationship. In southern Florida, delicately scented white flowers appear in the summer. In fall, the fruit ripens, ready for harvest when the cherries are bright red. Since not all the cherries ripen at the same time, care should be taken to pick only the ripe ones at each picking. Many roaster models are available for home roasters. An entirely different skill set will be needed for artisan-roasted beans, but this used to be business-as-usual for all home kitchens not that many years ago. Everyone roasted their own coffee beans. Think how enjoyable that first cup of homegrown DIY coffee will taste. Or think about one of the comments expressed following the article: “I can do my own brain surgery with a mirror and a model airplane knife. But that doesn't mean it's a good idea either.” So save yourself a lot of work and just order from ROASTe’s amazing selection of artisan coffees. Get all the enjoyment without the back-breaking work. How cool is that?



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