Monday, July 30, 2012

Fig Trees!

Long before we ever bought the house, I began dreaming about our garden-to-be.  A luscious landscape, teeming with a wide array of succulent jewels, straight from Mother Earth's fertile womb. An abundance of nutritious organic fruits and vegetables for us to consume merrily while being simultaneously eco + health friendly...

Well, we haven't quite gotten there yet.  Okay, so we're not even close.  Maybe we haven't even tried...  To our dismay we have quickly discovered that the "fertile earth" here kind of sucks... It's filled with rock hard clay (not to mention rock hard rocks), there's very little drainage and we're going to have to tear up our grass/lawn to put a garden area in.  

We haven't figured out how we're going to work this yet.  There is a good solution.  We are still pondering it. Perhaps this is a project for spring 2013. 

We lost little time, however, buying a small collection of fruit plants to tide us over until the spring! To start - we bought 3 beautiful fig trees!  Figs are DELISH, and so expensive to buy fresh.  When I found out they grow well here in Maryland, there wasn't a question!

We went back and forth with the decision to keep the fig trees potted or plant them in the ground.  So far we've decided to go with potted, for a number of reasons:  
  • As previously mentioned - the dirt sucks. It doesn't drain well (which apparently is very important for fig happiness), but it is also REALLY hard to dig a hole in! 
  • We don't know where to put them.  It's tough to make such long term decisions and we just weren't ready to pull the trigger yet.
  • Figs are tropical trees and don't like the cold winter. Keeping fig trees alive through winter in Maryland can entail wrapping them in plastic/straw/mulch/leaves/other shenanigans.  Alternatively, you can move potted fig trees to a dark basement/shed/CELLAR (woot we have one!), to encourage the tree to go dormant for the winter, but not die in the cold/frost/nasty winter weather.
  • Keeping fig trees potted is a great way to constrain their growth and maintain a reasonable sized fig tree.

Woo!  Behold our lovely collection of fig trees!

This is our 'celeste' fig tree.  I love the huge willowy leaves.  As you can see, it does have a number of small baby figs.. but they don't appear to be growing... I hear celeste trees can be quite 'difficult'.  Right now with the pot, the tree is about my height, approximately 5'10"... (okay, more like 5'4")

This is our 'brown turkey'.  It has recently exploded with new leaf growth, I think its enjoying the new larger pot.  It has a ton of decent sized figs - I hope they ripen.  The figs on this tree are shaped sort of like a drop of water - rounded on the end, but oblong rather than circular.  This tree is MUCH shorter, and was clearly pruned to grow out rather than up.

Lastly, this is our 'texas everbearing' fig tree.  There seems to be some conflicting information - it may (or may not) be the same thing as a 'brown turkey'.  Why a nursery would sell the same thing under different names beats me.  But, from what I can tell - the figs are shaped QUITE differently.  I have noticed one large fig growing into a shape that is nearly a perfect circle.  They are quite rounded!

After much research, we planted them in a mixture of planting mix, compost manure, and perlite, to encourage soil drainage.  We topped the mix with mulch, to hold in some moisture.  

So far, the trees appear to be healthy. The celeste did suffer a spat of yellowing leaves not long after we brought her home, but I think it might have been a massive heat wave that sprung up at the time.  The other two have shown a ton of leaf growth recently, which is good I suppose, but annoying because I would prefer more figs!  Ah well. Hopefully the current figs all ripen up and we can feast upon them.  :)

We are still fig newbies - so please feel free to share your tips and expertise!