Sunday, November 28, 2010

november 13, 2010 – putting the figs to bed

Autumn is leaving its mellowness behind for its spiky, rotted stage. Don’t remember summer even saying good-bye. —David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

Back in May, I mistakenly identified the species of fig that we planted. Although I don’t know which species we did plant, I now know that it definitely was not Ficus carica. Because our figs are decidedly un-hardy, we need to protect them from harsh Chicago winters.

This weekend, we prepared our fig saplings for winter. Dave and Michael dug shallow trenches that were a little longer than the trees were tall. Michael had a harder time of it because we did not pre-dig a trench for the larger fig when we initially planted it. While Michael dug his trench, Dave and I cut a 4-foot square of plyboard into two rectangular pieces.

Dave and Michael next wrapped the bottoms of the saplings with burlap. They bent the wrapped trees down so that they lay in the shallow trenches. We then covered the trees in their trenches with plyboard and then dirt. Finally, we marked the trench edges with wooden stakes.

The trench keeps the saplings oxygenated and surrounded by insulating soil so that the trees will survive the winter protected from wind. The plyboard protects the trees from being crushed by snow or the careless walker.

Dave explained that we’ll be able to use this method with our figs for at least 5 years. When the trunks become too rigid to bend, we can cut them back and start over with one of the tree’s suckers.