GROWING GREEN: Grow figs in cold climates

Opinion Nov 13, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

Figs trees weren’t for me, I’d decided. Figs are Mediterranean plants and they won’t survive our winters unprotected.

The bend-and-bury-in-the-ground routine wasn’t appealing, not did I fancy building an insulated A-frame around my plants.

So, figs were out. Or so I thought.

Then I met Steve Biggs at an RBG workshop and found myself going home with a tiny fig seedling.

His secret to success? Grow them in pots. Place them in a hot, sunny spot in the garden and bring them inside for the winter. What could be easier?

And no, you don’t need a bright, sunny window. Figs go dormant in the winter so you can keep them in a cold, unheated room, a root cellar, an attached garage, or an insulated outbuilding. Ideal temperature is between -5 C and 7C.

A word of warning: figs are rapid growers. Mine grew from an eight-centimetre seedling to a 30-centimetre plant in one season and had to be re-potted twice. Figs are naturally bushy but tolerate pruning, so train them into whatever shape pleases you.

My goal is to allow my plant to fill a 45-centimetre (18-inch) diameter pot, then keep it that size by root-pruning every three years or so. To root-prune, turn the pot over, grab the plant, and tug. Cut back any roots that are encircling the pot or pushing through the hole in the bottom.

Figs are very forgiving plants and will tolerate some neglect. In fact, overwatering while they are dormant may kill them. Other than that, your biggest challenge may be keeping the squirrels away from the delicious harvest.

Growing Green is a regular feature written by the Mount Hamilton Horticultural Society (gardenontario.org/site.php/mhhs). Rita Bailey, the author of this report, is a member who gardens in downtown Hamilton, where she mixes vegetables, herbs, and flowers in her kitchen garden.

GROWING GREEN: Grow figs in cold climates

Opinion Nov 13, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

Figs trees weren’t for me, I’d decided. Figs are Mediterranean plants and they won’t survive our winters unprotected.

The bend-and-bury-in-the-ground routine wasn’t appealing, not did I fancy building an insulated A-frame around my plants.

So, figs were out. Or so I thought.

Then I met Steve Biggs at an RBG workshop and found myself going home with a tiny fig seedling.

His secret to success? Grow them in pots. Place them in a hot, sunny spot in the garden and bring them inside for the winter. What could be easier?

And no, you don’t need a bright, sunny window. Figs go dormant in the winter so you can keep them in a cold, unheated room, a root cellar, an attached garage, or an insulated outbuilding. Ideal temperature is between -5 C and 7C.

A word of warning: figs are rapid growers. Mine grew from an eight-centimetre seedling to a 30-centimetre plant in one season and had to be re-potted twice. Figs are naturally bushy but tolerate pruning, so train them into whatever shape pleases you.

My goal is to allow my plant to fill a 45-centimetre (18-inch) diameter pot, then keep it that size by root-pruning every three years or so. To root-prune, turn the pot over, grab the plant, and tug. Cut back any roots that are encircling the pot or pushing through the hole in the bottom.

Figs are very forgiving plants and will tolerate some neglect. In fact, overwatering while they are dormant may kill them. Other than that, your biggest challenge may be keeping the squirrels away from the delicious harvest.

Growing Green is a regular feature written by the Mount Hamilton Horticultural Society (gardenontario.org/site.php/mhhs). Rita Bailey, the author of this report, is a member who gardens in downtown Hamilton, where she mixes vegetables, herbs, and flowers in her kitchen garden.

GROWING GREEN: Grow figs in cold climates

Opinion Nov 13, 2014 Hamilton Mountain News

Figs trees weren’t for me, I’d decided. Figs are Mediterranean plants and they won’t survive our winters unprotected.

The bend-and-bury-in-the-ground routine wasn’t appealing, not did I fancy building an insulated A-frame around my plants.

So, figs were out. Or so I thought.

Then I met Steve Biggs at an RBG workshop and found myself going home with a tiny fig seedling.

His secret to success? Grow them in pots. Place them in a hot, sunny spot in the garden and bring them inside for the winter. What could be easier?

And no, you don’t need a bright, sunny window. Figs go dormant in the winter so you can keep them in a cold, unheated room, a root cellar, an attached garage, or an insulated outbuilding. Ideal temperature is between -5 C and 7C.

A word of warning: figs are rapid growers. Mine grew from an eight-centimetre seedling to a 30-centimetre plant in one season and had to be re-potted twice. Figs are naturally bushy but tolerate pruning, so train them into whatever shape pleases you.

My goal is to allow my plant to fill a 45-centimetre (18-inch) diameter pot, then keep it that size by root-pruning every three years or so. To root-prune, turn the pot over, grab the plant, and tug. Cut back any roots that are encircling the pot or pushing through the hole in the bottom.

Figs are very forgiving plants and will tolerate some neglect. In fact, overwatering while they are dormant may kill them. Other than that, your biggest challenge may be keeping the squirrels away from the delicious harvest.

Growing Green is a regular feature written by the Mount Hamilton Horticultural Society (gardenontario.org/site.php/mhhs). Rita Bailey, the author of this report, is a member who gardens in downtown Hamilton, where she mixes vegetables, herbs, and flowers in her kitchen garden.