Thursday, November 8, 2007

Figs (continued)

(photographs of a Ficus carica in Astoria, Queens, pruned and tied and ready to be wrapped for the winter)

I have a question for you regarding a fig tree, about 5+ feet tall, planted this spring: When should it be pruned, now or in the spring? I believe here in Peekskill it should be wrapped with burlap in the winter, but when??

Regarding the fig, those are some excellent questions. I did post a blog entry about figs in late October and if you click on the link here you will find that. As far as wrapping you definitely do want to wrap the tree if you are up in Peekskill, and now is a good time to do that. As far as how to wrap it, that is a bit trickier and I admit to you I am still learning. I live in a mostly Greek part of Queens and what I saw last weekend really intrigued me.

Every winter I see that people have wrapped their figs so tightly that they appear extremely tall and narrow, like a tightly bound bundle only a foot or two in diameter but easily 8 or 10 feet tall. Luckily during my walk on Sunday I got a little more insight into the process. I came across a tree that had been pruned and tied, but not yet wrapped, so I could better understand the process of winterizing these warmer-climate-loving trees. The owner had cut each branch back very hard so there were only a few (2-3’) feet of growth coming from the main trunk of the tree. What he was left with was bare branches; the thin branches towards the tips of the tree with lots of foliage and even some fruit he simply chopped off and got rid of. Then he had taken each branch and slowly forced it so that it was held right against the trunk pointed upwards. Now, I was confused as to how he was able to bend all the branches without them cracking or breaking, but unfortunately the owner had gone inside and I missed my opportunity to ask him. With all the branches tied to the trunk with a ton of rope and twine, I assumed the next step was to wrap it in a tarp and leave it to rest through the winter. Before receiving this visual insight I always thought that you wanted to prune in the spring and not prune them heavily in the fall, but apparently I still have some things to learn about over-wintering figs in New York. Obviously there are still some questions to be answered and I hope during a walk home soon I can run into another neighbor wrapping their fig so I can clear up a few things. When I do I will definitely be in touch.

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