Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Puttin' my baby to bed

My twin fig trees became a single this year as one was injured by the late frost and then never was able to bounce back with the ongoing drought we have had. Normally dry weather would not worry me in regards to figs but obviously it can be a concern. One I will take much more seriously from now on. Even though I did water it it must not have been enough. It tried to make one futile come back and then "bam" it was gone again. To bad.

The one thing I do consider in regards to figs is freezing weather though. Always a concern with figs unless you live somewhere in zone 8 or so. My husbands grandmother did and WOW! she had a fig tree that you could climb in it was so big and green with leaves almost the whole year. However I don't live in zone 8---though I think global warming (or natural warming---whatever you want to call it) is trying to put me there.
Here is my 7A climate my brown turkey is one of the hardier figs that are grown and generally make it o.k without extreme protection. None of those burlap cages and blankets and rugs some people have to do. Sometimes we can even get a breba crop---but not always. That's o.k though for me---they are never quite as good as the late summer crop.

Recently I read on line about a man that successfully winters his figs through his zone 5 climate by putting a foot and a half of partial composted manure on top of the root zone come fall. So, I thought, why not try it myself and see if I liked it better or worse than the other way we have always over wintered our figs. By the way---our other way has always been do nothing really. If nothing else I thought it will have all that fertility to help it out this next year. So I put down about 3 inches (in a 4 foot circle) of pure dried sheep manure----courtesy of my dam where there is not grass and raking up the poo is easy. Then my son cleaned out my hay feeding area in my barn for me and I got the rest of my hay/manure to finish off my pile. In the picture---with Maggie my jackie wa wa as she is known here----it doesn't look that tall. It is though and that's after I walked on it to "squoosh" it down.

There are some potential drawbacks to using such a deep mulch of which the top and most important would be creating a habitat for voles and mice. These bad little critters could potential chew on my plant over the winter and possibly kill it. Unfortunately I have both of them but I also have an extremely tenacious, patient cat when it comes to hunting these guys. I will have to keep a good eye out for these little bad un's and make sure my cat is pulling his weight. Since right through that area is where he likes to do his "number 2 job" I would imagine it will be o.k. if I where to guess (which I am).

The second drawback is that it could keep the soil cooler underneath thus slowing the beginning spring growth. This particular drawback might actually work in my favor by keeping my plant from growing to soon and getting burnt by late frosts---like we had this year. I can also choose when to pull back the mulch to allow the soil around the tree to begin warming up, so again---not that much of a detriment in my opinion.

My one tree did well this past year considering and even tried to crop me some figs---but they didn't have time to ripen. It was so small of a tree for so long it just wasn't able to start soon enough in the year to have time to ripen them. I think it was the first to middle of October when I saw them starting---maybe even a bit later. They are still on the tree---sans leaves---but obviously will not finish so no homemade fig newton cookies for me. Or worse---no dried figs for my homemade focaccia with mascarpone cheese.

Come spring hopefully I will pull back that deep mulch, find nice un-chewed limbs down there, and take some cuttings. A whole row of figs is what I desire since really having one tree is like having one blueberry bush----there's just not enough to do much with.

By the way speaking of spring---I received my first seed catalog today. My they are starting soon----kind of like Christmas stuff in October. Tisk Tisk. It came from Pinetree Garden Seeds. I don't think I have ordered from them but there is the link in case anyone is interested. I don't know what they specialize in or if they are predominately organic or what since I haven't had a chance to view the catalog.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

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