2020 fig harvest inground zone 5, 6, 7

It’s easy because I can build a low tunnel over the bushes planted 3 ft apart during the spring time. This will ensure an early start and enough time for the fruits to ripe. That’s critical here. It’s not that easy to do so on 8ft tall fig trees spaced at 8ft.
This also concurs with what I heard from Gary. I don’t remember which video he mentioned this: during the winter time, the fig trees in commercial fig farms are all cut down, leaving the stubs and a few fingers. That’s because figs fruit on the new growth. It’s perfectly fine to do so. And that’s the way to keep the tree size under control and keep the trees productive.

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Yes, at another fig forum, someone built a low tunnel at 8’ spacing with a low cordon shape. Or 6 trees in 50’ low tunnel. I thought it would be better to space them at 4’ spacing with a regular bush shape. So it seems this is what you are doing.

In fig or grape farms, all the fruiting canes/branches are cut down over winter. But new buds are carefully chosen for next season. The new buds must not be allowed to get damaged. Or that will delay fruiting.

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Yes to mulch. One year I tried mulching with three feet of leaves and all figs died to the ground. Hardwood mulch so far working well.

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Hardwood mulch promotes rot. I won’t use any more.

I’ll just use synthetic materials to wrap the trees.

Thanks for the tip!

I use pine bark mulch. Hope it works. We will see.

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I’ve grown VdB in NW DC for several years with no winter protection and no winter-hardiness problems. However, the city is a heat island,and it rarely drops below 20F here. Planted about 10 feet from the neighbor’s house, which likely warms the soil but reduces sunlight. The tree is 9-10 feet tall, and yields about 200 figs per year, all I can handle. It is sweeter than LSU Purple, but starts fruiting abut 2 weeks later, and is more prone to split in rainy weather. In the photo VdB is on the left, LSU purple on the right.

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Thanks Robert!
Your experiences with VdB are very encouraging! I will give it try next season.

Currently I have Hardy Chicago, Celeste, LSU purple & Olympian. I am thinking to add a couple more. Top on the list are VdB and LSU tiger. Did you grown any other varieties? How do you like them? Your evaluations would be very helpful since we are in the same region.

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I bought a VdB in Lexington KY this spring…quart size.
Now It’s filling out a 3 gallon pot nicely, and a limb I broke off has rooted and grown
over a foot of new growth simply put in dirt, in the shade, in a 1-gallon container…and watered 2 or 3 times this summer. Nice to see how easy it is to propagate.

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I purchased the VdB form Edible Landscaping, an online nursery near Charlottesville with mostly positive reviews. I also purchased from them Texas BA-1, which was slow t start fruiting, but now productive. It is a green fig, with a purple blush when ripe, and is also known as Smith. The figs on both are delicious; I like them better than LSU Purple. I also bought a Celeste, but it produces only a few figs. I don’t see much difference in winter hardiness between varieties, but they are all cold-sensitive when young. I bend my small trees over and bury the trunk underground, with mulch on top. When they get too big for this they don’t need winter protection here in the city…

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The question is when it is “big” enough that you do not need to protect them. 3 years? 5 years or older? Or by height or trunk thickness?

Some years, winter is mild and some years winter is severe. So we need to have a plan as to when it is safe not to protect the fig trees.

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It has more to do with growth. A structured tree stops growing in the summer and hardens, a tree that has been pruned grows later into the year the further back it was cut.

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I’ve got a VdB in a pot in Richmond, and it can take some frost damage even when put in my unheated garage. Not much though, but I’m pretty sure it would be toast outside.

I’ve got an inground Celeste that is doing well. 2 layers of burlap and a plastic tarp has kept it intact for 2 winters, so it is 9 feet tall right now. Reading this thread I may prune in winter this year.

My potted Celeste and the VdB don’t like something about my pots, be it the mix, the PH, or the watering. Neither one really wants to grow.

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First in-ground of the season, picked this evening, was, again, Improved Celeste. Spring freezes put it way behind, like all my in-ground figs. Started first week of August last year.

This one is not as photogenic as last year’s, and not quite as good; it was sort of down in the weeds with minimal sunshine, and heavy rain diluted the flavor and sweetness somewhat. Still, to its credit, it did not split (though it was getting quite distended about the eye); and was not soured. (Wish I could say the same about some of my potted figs!) Wasn’t a bad fig in the least, but needed less water, more ripening. Would’ve counter ripened it for another day, but was worried the excess water would make it more susceptible to spoilage.

When well-ripened, though, these are excellent; my IC is probably my favorite tree.

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I’ve up=sized my VdB plant twice this year from the quart it was in when purchased to now a 3 gallon, and it’s stopped growing for now…but a broken limb I stuck in dirt has grown a foot already.

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Next in-ground to start ripening is my favorite Mt. Etna-ish fig, Malta Black. About the same in relation to IC as last year—though, of course, about a month late on account of our late spring freeze events.

Marseilles Black, et al. should follow shortly.

Mid-season figs will be a disappointment this year. Olympian set a heavy main crop—including a surprising number of doubles—, but will have little time to properly ripen many of them. I can already feel and smell autumn in the air.

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If you pluck off the younger developing figs, the older stagnant ones should have a better chance of ripening. Plucking off the growth tips to arrest any active growth should help your figs ripen faster too.

Love seeing a ripe Malta Black. Mine started ripening a couple weeks ago :yum:

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Thanks, Andrew! I’ll try this out.

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My Dalmatie are starting to swell. They honestly haven’t taken very long to ripen. The first figlets emerged the 3rd week of June.

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Unless you live where it never is colder than 25F, there is a risk of winter damage. In my neighborhood (z7b, but city heat island) are dozens of fig trees, none with visible winter protection. The only one that shows damage each year is a street tree, exposed to the wind. If you want to minimize risk, wrap your tree in something that protects it from winter winds. I let mine grow multiple trunks and bend down the outer ones the first couple of years.

I haven’t noticed any difference in cold-sensitivity among varieties, but that may be because the polar vortex killed all above-ground growth in 2014; since then winters have been at or above average. Perhaps in a colder-than-average but warmer-than-vortex winter, VdB would exhibit more damage than LSU Purple, etc.

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