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The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Fig tree in clay soil?

Fig tree in clay soil?

deb k.
user 8829588
Portland, ME
Post #: 25
Can I plant a Celeste Fig Tree in high clay soil? The tree is about 2 ft with a few figs already, I dug a hole in a fairly sunny spot (about 6 hrs of sun) but found that the soil was high in clay. I was told that fig trees do well in Maine. Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.
Manolis K.
Winthrop, ME
Post #: 1
I am pretty sure that fig trees are not hardy enough to survive the cold winter.
But, i have seen fig trees in pots, where people move them inside in the dormant period.
And i have seen only one example of tree outdoors, but it needs great care. It must be in a hot spot ( like a south facing brick wall). The guy every spring prunes it back A LOT, and at winter time he covers the fig with straw and burlap. Its a lot of maintenance. I am going to experiment in pots in a partially underground greenhouse, but because i grow up with figs, and i like them sooooo much.
But definitely you can do it pots and move them twice per year ;)
Hope that helps ;)
Sue M.
user 3284483
South Portland, ME
Post #: 154
It really depends on the type of fig. Some figs are more acclimated to colder weather than others. You should look it up. It might be one that needs to be brought in in the winter. I have overwintered mine in the garage. If you want the fig to produce a lot of fruit, I have read that they like their roots to be contained. Or they will get huge, but produce less fruit.
Greg M.
user 3541854
Acton, ME
Post #: 704
Hi Deb. Did you get one of the nice fig trees from Whole Foods? Very nice plants for a very good price. I've been growing figs here in Maine for the last 4 summers. While there are some figs that might survive outside with minimal protection they are very few and Celeste, while fairly hardy, would need protection or it'll die down to the mulch line. If I were you and I had a place to store it this winter (ideally between 32-40F in the dark) I would pot it up into a five gallon bucket with holes drilled. Give it a soil mix that drains well.
Clay soil is not good for figs as it doesn't drain well and so it would be good to build a raised bed to plant it into. When I start planting my figs outside I'm going to train them as two horizontal trunks that run just above the ground. This way they can have woodchips raked over them in the fall after they go dormant for protection. Then come spring when it's safe the woodchips can be raked back off the trunks. Celeste will bear a main crop on new growth so the new shoots that spring up will bear figs, but because of our short growing season you'll want to pinch the new growth to promote fruit set. If you'd like more details on training this way drop me an e-mail. A greenhouse or high tunnel can also provide enough protection. I hope you enjoy your fig. I've already picked a few figs from the LSU purple I got from Whole Foods...stuff always tastes better picked off the treesmile
One other detail in case you haven't grown figs before, let the figs get soft and sag downward before picking. If it needs more than a gentle tug it's probably not ready and won't taste nearly as good as when it gets to that stage or actually falls to the ground.
deb k.
user 8829588
Portland, ME
Post #: 26
Thanks everyone, that helps! If I overwinter it inside, should I water it? The garage does have some subdued light, should I cover it?
deb k.
user 8829588
Portland, ME
Post #: 27
When should I bring them inside? outside in the spring? Thanks again
Greg M.
user 3541854
Acton, ME
Post #: 705
Hi Deb. The two basics to storing your figs: temperature and soil moisture. Wait to bring your figs inside until the figs go dormant. Once it gets cold they will drop their leaves. They you're good to bring them in for the winter. I bring mine in before we start to go into the 20s. I don't want to freeze the rootball. Storage should probably be between about 32 to 45F. The spot I use stays 40F and I've never lost a plant. I store mine in complete darkness and bring them back out in the spring when we're not dipping into the 20s anymore. Often I just wait until they start waking up in storage, but once we're past freeze threats they come out.
For water you want to make sure that the soil doesn't dry out completely, but you don't want them to be sitting in soil that's too wet. Either end will kill them. I push a finger down into the soil and if I feel moisture I don't water. Under my storage conditions it works out to watering about once a month during the winter. Storage humidity and temperature will dictate how often to water.
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