How to grow figs in a cold climate

We should all be lucky (or smart?) To have a simple greenhouse like the one Mr. Reich has on his 2.25-acre property in New Paltz, NY, a 2...


We should all be lucky (or smart?) To have a simple greenhouse like the one Mr. Reich has on his 2.25-acre property in New Paltz, NY, a 20-by-20-foot poly-covered structure. feet which it remains very little heated so that the temperature does not drop below 37 degrees.

Four of his figs are planted in the clay soil of the greenhouse, set up in espaliers. However, it’s not just a figuration in there. The greenhouse is also home to a variety of edibles, including lamb’s lettuce, lettuce, kale and even celery in the winter, as well as spring flower seedlings and summer cucumbers.

But the easy way to grow a fig – in places with cold winters – is in a pot. As long as you have the right place to store it when the frosts arrive, as Mr Reich does in his barely heated basement, where he has 15 potted trees.

Mr. Reich has a long history of cultivating not only figs, but also medlars and papayas, among the plants featured in “Uncommon Fruits Worthy of Attention,” his pioneering 1991 book that prompted gardeners to consider a wider palette. . Even with more common choices like blueberries, Mr. Reich is pushing the limits, harvesting 190 liters per year, for example, from highbush plants grown inside “our bird-proof blueberry temple. ”, An outer structure coated on the sides with a one-inch mesh and covered with a netting at the time of ripening at the top as well.

Among the fruit trees, figs are distinctive. The varieties most commonly grown in temperate zones, such as apples and pears, produce their fruit on older wood, that of the previous year and earlier. Certain varieties of figs can do this as well, delivering what is called an early breba crop, on last year’s stems. But those best suited for growing in cooler climates, including familiar varieties like Brown Turkey and Chicago Hardy, produce their main crop – sometimes their only crop – on new shoots.

Keeping the fig tree reduced to container-grown proportions by pruning does not eliminate the possibility of harvest. On the contrary, the success of figs in colder areas, Mr Reich pointed out, requires a combination of two practices: proper pruning and adequate protection.

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