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Protecting hardy fig

 
Julie Bernhardt
Posts: 54
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
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I bought a hardy fig because it is supposed to survive zone 5. The first year I potted it and kept it in my greenhouse for the winter. The following spring I planted it out and that summer I got 4 delicious figs from it. I put it on the south side of my house wit a fence east of it to shelter some wind. I mulched it well with wood chips for the winter and piled shredded leaves around it. The following spring it had died back to the ground but was still alive. I bought 2 more hardy figs locally that I potted. I didn't get any figs. The following fall I put a wire fence around the tree and packed leaves 3 feet high around it. Again in the spring it had died down but still was alive about 6 inches above the ground. I planted the 2 smaller trees one on each side of the original, I got a few figs growing on the first tree but they didn't ripen. The next winter I again packed leaves but in a larger area to include all 3 trees. Also I placed some cardboard around them from a very large box. I put row cover across the branches that were above the leaves and cardboard as the tree had grown about 4 feet tall. We did have a very cold winter last year with lots of snow. It still died back but regrew to about 6 feet tall. It had several figs but again they never ripened.

This winter I am trying a different way to protect the branches. I am still going to pile leaves on it and add more to the ends I bought 5 packs but it wasn't enough so I'll get more.

Do you think it will work better for me?
Fig 2014Nov..jpg
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This is how it looks. The leaves have just fallen this week.
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I put foam pipe insulation on the branches and will add shredded leaves to them when more fall in my yard from other trees.
 
Alex Ames
Posts: 399
Location: Georgia
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Well for one thing you may have it too close to the house and if it thrives
it could cause foundation damage. It also will become lopsided, as you will
need to prune it away from the house. How do I know all this? Meet Figzilla!
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elle sagenev
Posts: 1261
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I support the awesomeness of this entire post!!!
 
John Wolfram
Posts: 632
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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trees
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Cool project. I doubt the snow last year had much to do with the die back. Up here in Lafayette, it got down to -17F in February 2014. If it gets that cold again in the winter of 2015, I doubt those pipe insulators will make much difference. Is there any way you could bend the trees to the ground and then cover them with a foot or two of leaves/mulch?

 
Alder Burns
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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Growing up in southern Michigan, people down the street from us used to bury their fig tree every winter. It was planted at the end of a shallow trench, and in the fall they'd dig around the roots at the opposite side and tip the whole thing over sideways and tuck it in. Come spring, they'd reverse the procedure, stand it up, stake it and away it would grow. Labor intensive, but I'm pretty sure I saw fruit on it!
 
David Livingston
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Location: Anjou ,France
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The most famous example I know of growing Figs in the cold climate is here in Berlin http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-Berlin-Potsdam-the-Terraces-of-Figs-and-Vines-Sanssouci-Germany-9240386.html
Basically each fig tree has its own small greenhouse and would be cut back each year to over winter then in spring the doors would be opened and the trees allowed to grow

David
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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I have our figs all tucked in for winter...uncovered here they usually freeze back to the ground and then hardly have time to mature figs on the regrowth. This year,as an experiment, I am pruning back to about four to five feet and tieing those branches together in a bundle then a hogwire ring and filling with leaves.......then a large cloth covering (thrift store polyester yardage...it never dies). Sounds like a lot of work but well worth it for the figs........I then root all of the cuttings in doors over the winter so that we always have a supply of young fig trees to share and plant here.
They are all on the south side of our house and one is as close as yours......I thought I understood that the roots are shallow and close to the surface so I don't think it will interfere with our foundation.
Ours is a 'texas pink dawn' and is really flexible so some of the young trees I am bending down and weighting with rocks and then covering with leaves.
We have friends who do as Alder suggests and tip the whole tree...theirs eventually got too large to do that and also too large to cover so it , of course then froze to the ground, but is growing back nicely.
I think having several at several ages is a good thing so that you have them at all stages and some are always easy to cover well, if you live where it is really cold in the winter.
 
Benjamin Sizemore
Posts: 40
Location: Colorado @ 7000 feet. zone negative 87b
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I read on some fig forums that the best way to treat the Chicago hardy fig is plant it on the north side of something and ignore it... real permaculture is less work, lol! No, but the reasoning is that you want to keep it cold so it goes dormant as early as possible and then stays that way until the weather has truly warmed up. If it gets heat from a brick wall or warm sun out of season, that is when you run into trouble.

That's just what I read about the figs in the northeast and north midwest. Have no personal experience.



 
Julie Bernhardt
Posts: 54
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
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I can' bend it over. I was lucky to bend the biggest branches down enough to slide the sleeves on. I cut the tops off the branches that stuck out instead of buying more pipe insulation. I wrapped the cuttings in paper towels and plastic to root. I will plant some the north side of my house if they survive. I then coved the tops with a large industrial plastic bag that blew here from a construction site. I have my fencing around it and added some leaves but more haven't fallen yet. I may have to grab a bag of leaves from the curb from some neighbors.

Thanks everyone for the additional ideas.
 
barb fath
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For the past five or so yrs I have been lugging large pots with figs in them into our sunroom for Winter. In Spring, I'd bury the pots up to the rim in good soil. The roots would grow out of the drainage holes in the pots into the soil. Next Fall, the roots got cut off and the pot again brought in. We got only a very few to some ripe figs each year. The figs and pots keep getting larger so this year (2014) the figs were planted in a hoop house and did well. For Winter, I bent them down, bundled (tied) the branches together then covered the each entire tree with straw and covered everything with compost. I'd have used only compost but didn't have that much. The compost will be spread around the hoop house in Spring when the figs are uncovered. Last Winter (2013-14) was really cold here in SW Ohio and the figs will now be ready for a repeat. I hope.

 
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