Growing fig trees in compost socks


Took some pictures of how I had been transplanting young plants. With a pine bark mix it always went well, but with the biochar bare rooting put them into some pretty bad shock. I think the fine roots must have penetrated the biochar and been ripped off… This is basically the same method used to plant strawberries through plastic.

The roots on the biochar grown plants are more fibrous/finer.

I use this Fiskars trowel tool that has a notch on the tip to get a hold of the end of the roots, if they are longer than the blade I trim them.

Then send them home.

That’s all there is to it, here’s a picture of the roots of one of last year’s plants that was in a pine bark mix for comparison, lots of long roots that needed trimming. It had pretty much no shock… but no top growth yet from the graft I put on either.

They are almost recovered after a week, but I worked out a different way to do it anyhow that didn’t shock them much at all and is a little quicker. Instead of bare rooting I tickle the bottom to loosen up the roots and shorten the height to fit, then cut an x in the fabric and take a plug of compost out by forcing in an empty plant band and then just drop them in and pack in a little bit of the compost back in. I can take some pictures if anyone wants, have more to do this week.

Here’s a video from Nourse showing the bare root method on strawberries.


So I moved a double planted tree that has been in a 6" diameter sock for a full 2 years today, it was pretty obvious they had begun to suffer from being root bound and hardly grew or set any fruit. But I wanted to see how long they could go, the ones planted one per sock in 6" and 8" still grew reasonably well.

Here it is with the old sock cut off. Interesting to see there were weeds and bugs in there, life finds a way :wink:

Then I laid out 2-3" of compost biochar mixture on a 39"x36" section of geotextile, centered it and then pushed it over, then cut slits for the trunks and grabbed the far side of the fabric and rolled it upright.

Then pulled the near side up and secured it with hog rings I had had crimped down on one side and bent into a fish hook shape on the other, seen here with a bee that had been hanging out in the biochar for some reason.

I then stuffed opened up the middle and stuffed in pure biochar on top to see if that helps with water infiltration.

Then I closed it all up, stuffed in some more compost/biochar into the ends and sealed them like a wrapped gift with more hog rings. Viola, painless. Thanks @DCinFLX for the suggestion.

I like the idea of being able to open it up, both to add more compost as it settles, and to be able to run drip tape inside the fabric without having to pull the entire line trough. After a few months the roots should pull all the new mix together (I’m going to head back branches with no figs to get some growth started) and then I can pick it up by the trunks without it all coming apart. But if I wanted it more secure I could also crimp down the hog rings and it would be pretty solid.


You’re welcome, glad it worked out. I have my compost socks cut up, just need to get them to the tailor (my sewing machine broke). He’s Turkish so I might be able to bribe him with a little fig tree. The compost sock volunteers will be pretty evenly divided between figs, pomegranates, and crape myrtles.


Really interested in how the poms end up doing for you.


How’d the compost socks work out for the rest of the season? Maybe I missed it but–When you go to lie them down for frost protection do you reorganize or keep them in place and just roll over?


They did fine, watering was a little tricky, when the compost shrinks away from the fabric water can end up running down the sides and not wetting the roots. When I get them all upsized and can run the drip tape inside the fabric that shouldn’t be a problem.

I shift them 90 degrees and combine rows, they end up looking like this, only one layer for larger trees.

I settled on empty 10/20 flats to create an airspace between layers of groundcover fabric, have plenty of them to use.


That seems like a excellent way to winterize and keep airflow through them also, Do you keep them in your high/low tunnel over winter? or just a out of the wind/sun place and cover them with the ground cover? And what zone are you?


I’m in zone 7a. They spend the winter outside in the growing space (the ones from the greenhouse were put outside in December as well), the three rows shown above will be condensed into one (one is about 30 ft. longer than the other 2 so there should be enough room). So one layer of ground cover stays down to keep them clean, one layer will be touching them directly on top, then I will put empty seed flats on top of that and add the last layer and keep it in place with weights and or sod staples.

For younger trees that grow late into the year and are extra cold sensitive I had been putting a layer of seed flats on top of the socks also, under the first layer of groundcover, but I think that is not as important as between the layers. I had unripe figs survive without damage last year using that method so it could not have gotten much below freezing under the cover. The air gap insulates them from cold as well as warming up in the sun.