After the disappointment of last year’s Hardy Chicago Fig not being so hardy after all, I replaced it with two more bush-shaped fig plants rather than the tree-shaped version I had last year. I was disappointed again earlier this summer, when only one breba fig appeared, and then broke off its stem before it ripened. But! A few days ago, I took a close look at the bushes, and saw a couple dozen tiny figs forming! The bush shaped plants have 4-5 stems rather than the one stem from the standard-pruned fig that died over the winter. This seems to be much better for fig production!
My plan is to let these figs ripen, and then bring the whole contraption inside in mid-fall. It should retain all its leaves and make a nice, if huge, houseplant, and also have a good start for next year’s season.
Right now, the garden is in an in-between state. Some things have taken off fast – the tomatoes, ground cherries, even the chichiquelite huckleberries are getting really big. Other things are taking their time – the black currant bushes are healthy, but haven’t grown much. A eggplant I started from seed and was pulled up by some bird or squirrel is dwarfed by its nursery-bought neighbors.
Among everything else, the tomatillo is enormous – it’s at least four feet tall, and it could easily be taller than me in a month.
After my hardy Chicago fig turned out to be not so hardy, I bought two new bushier figs to put in the planter. I didn’t expect much out of these this year, but there is one tiny fig starting to grow on one of them.
After five hours of pulling weeds from the yard, we were rewarded with two ripe figs from the tree we planted in April! They’re not very big, but they were delicious!
And it also looks like the tree is getting its second crop – this time about 15 more little figs have formed! I’m hoping they’ll ripen before the first frost.
Last week, I was really surprised to find some tiny figs on the tree I just planted in April! When it came in the mail, it was a leafless stick with one spindly, weak looking root. Today, it has about doubled in size, has a ton of big leaves, and now three 1/2 figs, and it looks like a few more tiny ones! The figs I’ve been watching have roughly doubled in size in the past week.
Hardy Chicago figs will ripen to a reddish brown color – I’m guessing it will be another month or so before they’re ready. I must have missed the breba crop this year (I didn’t expect any figs, so this is great!) From what I’ve read, te breba crop forms underneath the leaf base, and the main crop forms above it on the current year’s growth. I debated removing the figs for this first year, but the tree is growing vigorously, and I’ve got it in 2 cubic feet of very rich soil – I’m going to let them ripen!
Fig Tree with lemon verbena and lablab beans below, surrounded by my pepper boxes.
I know I’m pushing the boundaries of zone hardiness, but I just had to try to grow a fig tree. None of the varieties I found were listed as hardy to Zone 6, where Columbus is located, but a variety called Hardy Chicago seemed a likely winner. This variety was propegated from a tree growing near Chicago, naturally, which is quite a bit colder than Columbus. On a few messageboards I found, growers said it consistently came back and fruited, even if it froze to the ground in the winter.
This one is going to take some coddling, but I think figs are completely worth it! I’ve saved the best spot in the yard for this tree: right against the south wall of the house in full sunlight. The southern exposure and proximity to the house should guard the tree against extreme cold, and I have a couple options in how I plant it. I could plant it in a large pot for about four years, until it’s well established, and bring it indoors during the winter. Or, I could let it stand up to the elements and give it some protection outside by bending down the branches in November and covering it with leaves, mulch and a tarp. Not sure what I’ll try yet.
Hardy Chicago Fig
I’m going to jump around a bit here – before I give an update on the successes and failures of last year’s garden, I’m getting really excited because I just ordered my seeds, trees and bushes for my 2010 garden. This year will be the first time I branch off into fruit. Of course, I’m not the most patient person in the world, so it’s going to be hard to wait a few years to see some results, but I’m in this for the long haul.
I’ve always wanted to be one of those people whose biggest problem in August is that their fruit trees are giving them too many peaches/cherries/plums/etc. to know what to do with. So, I just placed an order at Raintree Nursery, based in Washington State, for the elements of my starter orchard.
Because I don’t have a lot of space to work with, and not much of the space that’s available gets full sun, I had to be strategic in my ordering. I chose trees that self polinate, stay small, are productive, bear tasty fruit and are hardy to Zone 6 (with one experimental exception.) I had to use a lot of restrait to winnow down my dream list, but in the end, I ordered an apricot tree, a cherry tree and a fig tree, as well as two varieties of black currant bushes.