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GROWING FIGS IN COLD CLIMATES: A FEW RULES

A couple general rules I’ve observed growing figs in Z7A near Philly:Variety selection is your first concern. You’re looking for hardiness, earliness and even rain resistance in the northeast/mid Atlantic. A Hardy Chicago heirloom is probably your best bet.Figs need the sunniest/warmest/driest spot that you can give them.Less water = less vigor = more fruit & fully hardened wood by late November.Thinning new branches at bud break is critical. Less is more. Also remove potential inward growth, crisscrossing branches and growth that will shade out others.Pinching is a requirement. Most fig growers in the area will start June 1st or the earliest you can. Pay attention to the nodes above the leaf stem. If you see two small white or red dots, it’s go time (one is a new branch, the other a fig). That’ll give you fruits from most varieties by September 1st & even by August 15th for the very early varieties. Planting tips: Most of mine are all around the south and west side of the house (or at least protected from one side). Others out in the open are especially planted in 1-2 ft high mounds to lessen water intake and increase soil temperatures. I also place as many rocks/boulders around the base that I can. Black plastic is another alternative. Any nearby thermal mass will be great in the winter, but all this extra heat you’re providing goes a long way during the growing season because in the event that your tree does get killed to the ground, you can really jump start the tree back into gear by making things happen much quicker in the spring. ​ Winter protection: It is said that Hanc Mathies in Long Island used Wilt Pruf to prevent desiccation. He applied 3 coats each year and never lost a tree. Take that as you will. I believe there’s some good truth to the wind & freeze/thaw cycles being a bigger issue than the cold. I am experimenting with his method this winter. Other than that I am relying entirely on genetics and thermal mass.

Stay tuned on the YouTube channel for more on growing figs in cold climates.


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ROSS RADDI