Anyone grow Figs in Western NC?


Old 11-27-04, 12:41 PM
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Smile Anyone grow Figs in Western NC?

Hello everyone I need some advice from anyone in my shoes.

First it's a Brown Turkey Fig, it is 4 years old & was transplanted to a more protected location 2 years ago. This late November we cut all of the figs off ( some getting softer, some still hard & all are large ) to ripen inside.

I know I'm on the edge of it's growing zone, but I have seen them growing here, but I still would like some advice on how to protect it through Winter. This season it grew at least 2 dozen stalks some 8 foot high then it had it's first Fig & after an eternity it got soft & we ate it. It seemed like overnight the bush/tree began popping figs out all over. I belive what we saw was the 2 crops we have read about that some figs trees will produce.

In some ways our weather is like Southern Ohio so I guess that means from WNC to Southern Ohio. If you don't mind giving me some help with the ways you protect your Fig trees I would sure apreciate it.

Sure I can do a search, but over my growing experience I have learned the best tricks that work great, from other Gardeners. Our temps have gone down to 29 now. After a long Indian Summer I think it time to get ready to cover it now. ?? Lot's ??

Thanks all,

PS: We planted 2 Figs & one died over it's 2nd winter. I don't want this to happen to #2 Fig.
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Old 11-27-04, 02:24 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Taylors, SC
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As you know, I am in Taylors, SC, zone 7b. I have 4 turkey figs, and they do well in winter. They are in a protected area, but seem to survive winter well. We had a false crop this year. It started to bloom, but the late frost killed it. We had two full crops, just as you had. The first one was in July.

Here they are between the storage shed and the mound.

I usually head them back in winter to improve shape and production as well as ease of harvest. The trees are many years old, with trunks over 12 inches in diameter.

I do nothing to protect them. They seem to have few problems, except the dogs eat most of the figs close to the ground.

Hope this helps.
Old 11-27-04, 04:43 PM
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Brown Turkey

Wow Chris how old are these trees not bushes but large trees? Do you ever get down to 0 or-10? Not the norm but a few days every Winter do go down that far.

My tree is a bush compared to these trees. Would you suggest I cut any wood back this winter or trim back the dead wood in Spring?

What is a normal fruiting year like? Is the first larger than the 2nd?

Do you trim back the fig to make it a tree form or do all the large shoots die out as the tree get's older? I was thinking of digging up what look like shoots around the middle stem & either rooting them unless they have roots already. Have you dug up shoots with roots & potted them up or planted them inground?
Old 11-27-04, 05:54 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Taylors, SC
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So far as I can recall, it never goes down to zero here. The weather records back to 1917 show the lowest ever temperature as 1. Many times over the years in single digits, but rare.

I manage the growth of the trees to shape the tree for openess for production: more sunshine on the leaves, more fruit. To keep the height of the tree so that most of the tree can be harvested from a 6 foot step ladder. As the old branches get so large and heavy that they start to split the trunk, I cull some and allow some of the newer shoots to take a place in line, as it were, to fill the slot the older branch held. I cut them when they reach around 8 inches diameter. Otherwise, the productive branches are too far up to reach or extend so far from the tree that space is wasted by the limbs' length. I do all the pruning in January or so.

You have seen peach trees pruned for production groves. This is generally what I have in mind for the fig trees.

I head the tree back to keep the crown down. Technically, I suppose this is actually crown reduction. These trees are about 14 feet tall. Of the four trees, the two on the open yard side produce the most fruit. The back side is rather shady. It may not have been when the trees were planted.

I remove any of the shoots that don't fit into the plan for the tree. The old, central shoots tend to droop, split, and rot, if allowed to become too large and heavy. My trees tend to grow in the manner of shrubs, with a group of trunks from a central point. I have not considered moving any of the suckers, roots or not, because I don't have the room for that type of plant in the landscape plan.

One of the trees makes unusually large fruit, but it is not sweet. One tree is in the corner in the shade and makes little fruit. The two producers have a canopies of about 30 feet in width. These two make sweet, succulent fruits. Usually, two crops per year. The first crop is usually ready near mid-June. The weather affects the size of the crop. Too wet or dry a spring, and the summer crop is larger.

The trees are in the southern corner of the yard, with large hardwoods on the south and west sides. I don't do anything else to them, except prune them. I feed them in December, as I do with my smaller trees. The ground has been mulched where they are for a decade or more.

We graze the trees all throughout the producing season.
Old 11-28-04, 10:06 AM
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Smile On the edge of 0 degrees F

[QUOTE]Chris said: So far as I can recall, it never goes down to zero here. The weather records back to 1917 show the lowest ever temperature as 1. Many times over the years in single digits, but rare.

Funny how you can move up the road a piece & the Winter weather can be so different. However we were advised by the sellers to take precautions especially when the trees were small in our area. While we are safer from tornados we do suffer tempature extremes.

I have never seen Fig trees that size, save for the Fig they planted inside one of the large greenhouses out at the once up on a time, Mother Earth News Eco Viliage. The main stem is around 1 inch dia. so this is still a baby by Fig standards. I'm glad you mentioned taste I would say the single early fig we ate was rather tastless.

So it looks as if for the next few Winters I will have to protect this young fig from the extremes. Last year we put it into a large Tomato basket with straw & covered it with 2 giant leaf bags.

Thanks Chris for sharing your pics of those beautiful Fig trees I can only hope mine will become half the trees yours have grown into. Also I believe that we will order 1 more perhaps it will be the sweet one.

Thanks for your help Chris.

Old 11-28-04, 05:49 PM
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I've gotten into growing Key Lime trees in north central NC (they are inside under grow lights for the winter).

I've had some people say they've had luck with Christmas lights. They string the lights around the tree and turn them on at night with a timer. If it's windless the 30-50 watts is enough heat to protect the plant from the really hard temperatures. The lights provide heat at night, but don't cook them during the day like covering. It sounds like a good idea and would probably work if there is not much wind.
Old 11-29-04, 02:31 PM
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Smile Windy World

Our neighbor has a small citrus growing outside with no protection. All I can say if from the features & nasty strong bitter tasting fruit it has, it is in the citrus family.

The winds we get both Winter & Summer can be awesome in their nature. Back in 93 we had a full blown Blizzard in April. The way I describe the Mountains is they are the extremes of weather. 80s in January just after a single diget week is the norm & not the exception.

Not to long ago we had 6 years of drought & mild winters with very little snow. The year before last the rains came we had so much fruit & vegatables just rot with 10" of rain in June alone.

The weather & size of the Fig makes me think if I don't cover the Fig. I will lose more than I have gained since transplanting it to a more protected location. Having the higher Mountains to the West our valley get's very cold air masses with Ice Storms that break Apple branches when it get's to thick.

The Christmas lights know a the C-9s bigger & hotter than the C-7s are still avalible & do use a lot more power than thise mini lights most people use today. In special cases without wind the C-9 would be the best choice.


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