What to Know About Growing Coffee
Coffee is usually the one thing that keeps most people from waking up and murdering the first person they see. Coffee is life, coffee is God. But good coffee can get a bit pricey. And while we all would probably shell out the cash for a great bag of coffee, we would rather find a cheaper option. Well, if you got a bit of spare time on your hands and can take care of a plant, you can always try your hand at growing coffee yourself. You don't even need a greenhouse or a garden to do so, but it helps. Growing coffee is surprisingly easy, however there are some things that you should know before planting your own coffee plant in your living room. Things like what temperature they grow best in, how much water and light to give them, caring and finally harvesting. The more you know, the better your coffee plant will turn out and the better the beans will be.
Where Can You Grow Coffee?
Coffee plants can be grown pretty much anywhere. However they do grow better in certain environments and climates. For example, most coffee that you buy in the store is grown in Central and South America, in high altitudes with filtered sunlight, steady temperatures, and the perfect amount of water. However, growing your own, you do not need to match those standards exactly. But there are some that you do need to get as close as possible to. Those mostly being light and water. But more on that later. In terms of where you can grow your delicious coffee, you can do so in a pot in your bedroom, living room, wherever, as long as certain standards are met.
Of course, if you are going to be growing coffee professionally, then you probably have a garden or at least a green house to take advantage of. And those will definitely result in a better coffee plant than one grown indoors. But either option can be used and will work. For those who are just looking for a side hobby that may one day reward you for your work, growing coffee inside is a great idea. The biggest thing is to be patient, growing coffee can be a long process. This is because coffee plants will not begin to bear fruit until they are between 3 and 5 years old. Then they will give you fruit for the next 50 to 60 years. So they are a bit of late bloomers, but once it gets there it is totally worth it. So it is best to just chill out, care for your plant the best you can and hang in there.
Like I said before, there are certain standards that should be met, and others that are more like guidelines (10 points if you know that reference). Coffee plants are grown in specific regions that are best suited for optimal growth and the best harvest possible. The only way to truly replicate that is to do so in a greenhouse or garden. But if you are set with growing coffee in your house, here are some things you should follow.
Light is important when growing coffee, but not direct light, like with flowers. Coffee is a shade grown plant, usually planted under bigger trees. So growing it in your house will be fine, as long as it is near bright, indirect light. The best place is a few feet away from a bright window, but be sure that it never gets long exposure to direct light. This is because the leaves are very sensitive and can get burned. However, if you do not have any place in your house or apartment that matches those needs, you can always get yourself a full-spectrum light and put it on a timer. It will work about the same. But sunlight is always the better choice.
Coffee is typically grown in wet climates, so do not let your plant dry out. Easy way to tell if your coffee plant is too dry is by looking at the leaves. If they start to droop or get brown and crinkly, it is too dry. Keep the soil damp, but not soaking wet. You do not want to drown your coffee plant. If you are worried about over or under watering your coffee, there is a technique called the kitchen sink watering method. Basically take your entire plant with the pot and put it in the sink. Give it a good watering and let it sit and drain for a few minutes, then put it back where it was. This allows the water to thoroughly reach the depths of the soil, while letting the excess drain away so the plant isn't sitting in water for hours.
The quality of the soil is important. Be sure that the soil is nutrient rich, because it will need those nutrients in the beginning of its growth. In fact, that nutrient rich soil will be enough to feed the plant at first. Once it starts to grow more, it will need to be fed, just like any other potted plant. Find a fertilizer with micronutrients, which will include trace elements that plants want, like zinc, magnesium, boron, iron, and copper. But do not fertilize it too much. It is like a pet, you can't overfeed it or it will get sick. If you start to see brown around the edges of the leaves, you may be over-fertilizing it.
Keeping Your Coffee Happy
Coffee plants can be a bit temperamental. They are happiest in specific environments or situations and tend to not perform as well if they are not happy. So how do you know what the optimal growth environment is and how can you get it? Well, just look at where the coffee normally grows. Wet, warm, environments with a stable climate and temperature. Temperature is actually one of the biggest factors when it comes to growing coffee. Too hot and the plant may struggle, too cold and it will die. Coffee prefers temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, however it will also grow well in a temperature range of 45 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The biggest thing is not to let your plant get too cold, near freezing temperatures like 30 or 28 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because the frost will most likely kill your little coffee plant. If you are growing indoors, it will be much easier to maintain a constant temperature. However the real issue comes if you are planting in a garden or greenhouse.
Other issues that plague other plants like pests, disease, and the like you will not have to worry about. Coffee is naturally resistant to pests and insects and does not contract diseases. So there is no need to spray your coffee plant with any insecticide or pesticides or anything.
Basically the best way to keep your coffee plant happy is just like anything else. Give it what it needs. Sheltered sunlight, keep it wet, feed it well, make sure the soil is slightly acidic (pH6), and allow it to stay warm. Doing all of that will keep your coffee happy, healthy, and bountiful.
What to Expect
Since coffee is actually a tree, you can expect it to get fairly large, assuming you give it what it needs. The average height for a coffee plant is 5 meters tall, however it can be easily pruned back to maintain a smaller size. Its leaves are dark green, slightly ribbed and shiny. In terms of blooming, it can bloom up to twice a year in its native conditions. However, since you will most likely be growing it inside, it will probably bloom in the summer and spring. The flowers look like small, white jasmine and have a very delightful fragrance to them. But you will only start to see these flowers around the 3 year of its growth.
Once you see the flowers start to bloom, you can expect the fruit to come soon after. The fruit that contains the precious coffee beans inside will be green at first and will later change to red. But that will take about 9 months, so again, be patient. Luckily, they do not soften or spoil, they only dry up if they remain on the plant for too long.
Growing coffee can require a bit of attention and patience, but in the end it pays off. Now of course, to have coffee every day, you will need about 30 of those plants. But just growing and maintaining one will give you a nice sense of accomplishment and a small reward. So there is always that. Basically as long as you give the plant what it needs to be happy and healthy, you can expect to have a life long pet coffee plant. For more information on how to stay happy, green, and healthy, explore what else Green and growing has to offer.
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