the fig knows best

i have a chicago hardy fig.  the reason for it’s name is that it’s supposed to hardy even in the trempratures we see here in the midwest.  even with the figs ablity to survive, it’s highly recommended that you protect the fig from the winter elements in a vatiety of methods that look like plant tourtue, including burial in trenches, binding with burlap, and forming a cage around it and then stuffing leaves inside the cage.  i’d actually be willing to do this – but seeing as i live in a rental, and at some point hope to have a place to plant this fig (more on that later), i’ve kept it in a pot and brought it indoors each year.

the first year i got it, the damn thing lost all it’s leaves in the fall and i thought i had killed it.  i’m not inclinde to give up, and a few months later it put on lush new growth.   it was only then that i realized the fig was doing what it was supposed to do; sheding it’s leaves in the fall and growing new ones in the spring.

actually not in the spring, but in the late winter.  one of the neat things about bringing the fig indoors is that it reacts not much to the cold tempratures, since we keep the heat on in the house, but the amount of light we get.  it’s pretty much amazing how dramatically it puts on new leaves in such a short period of time. jan28this is january 28th

and then feb4useand then this is february 4th.  after a couple of years of this, i’ve noticed that the sudden onslaught of growth comes just about dead on to the first day of february  not a random date either i think – but the day that we are exactly half way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, when our light reaches above 10 hours a day.  in many cultures this date was celebrated as one of the most important dates of the year, a great turning point, in gaelic communities it was know as imbolc.

interestingly this date corresponds with the earlist time for planting new crops in the hoop house or cold frame with any great luck or sucess.  so while i can rely on a calendar, there is something pretty special about having my fig tree tell me when to plant.  which is exactly what i’ll be doing this week, sowing the first seeds in the hoop house.  happy planting to all of you in the northern hemisphere


3 responses to “the fig knows best

  1. Does it produce figs?? I had the same experience in terms of leaves, but I didn’t get any figs last summer.. Can a potted fig tree produce figs??

    • It does produce figs, though never more than one or two in a season – but the it is rather small – under two feet tall, so I can’t expect too much.

  2. Here in Toronto, fig growers wrap up their trees in burlap, bend them over and burry them over the winter. I haven’t tried this myself, but I’ve seen some large, productive trees in neighbour’s backyards. Anything for those figs!

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