Friday, November 1, 2013

We Like-us a Ficus

If you've been to Ginkgo or have followed the blog, you know how excited we are about our fig trees.  Folks constantly tell us, "I've never seen a fresh fig" or ask, "How do they survive the Chicago winter?" Of all the fruits and vegetables that we grow, the figs are undoubtedly the most bizarre (sorry gooseberries).  I'm careful in picking the superlative because all of our produce is interesting–carrots have a deep (pun intended) history; the cruciferous plants (kale, broccoli, cabbage, radish, turnips, etc.), all relatives of the same original plant, can call to each other from bed to bed to catch up on family news; the Mammoth Sunflowers produce extraordinary growth; the tomatoes... THE TOMATOES! But the figs are just bizarre.

Each year we dig a large trench in the ground, swaddle the trees, and tip them into the holes. We cover the holes with plywood, then mound soil and straw on top to insulate the trees for the winter.  In the spring we resurrect them and stand in astonishment by how much they grow.

This year one of our trees, is already underground, but the other, dubbed Persephone, is too large to bury.  We have been looking for solutions and have considered wrapping the tree above ground. The other plan, and our likely choice, is to divide the tree.

Our trees are from divisions. A gentleman, Mario, gave us these divisions and they have rooted and grown tremendously at Ginkgo. Essentially, we would cut Persephone in half, giving each half plenty of root structure. One half would go into a pot of soil and eventually be given to a friend.  The other half would be buried for the winter.

This surgery is common, but we would be taking a chance and we don't have much experience with the procedure. I had come to believe that these trees really enjoy growing and that they will forgive us for errant cuts.

This is what we did last Saturday, and we hope you can come out this Saturday to help with Persephone.

Lids for the compost bins being constructed by an awesome team of volunteers