Yes Figs Grow Around Fort Smith!

Purpose

Work closely with the River Valley Master Gardeners on a five-to-ten year Fig growing trial to determine what varieties are suitable for our climate gardening zone. We are seeking information on local Fig trees which have survived multiple years either with or without winter protection.

Document and show as many growing Fig trees in our area as possible so people will know what varieties to choose from when they search about Figs and possibly want to grow them, in and around Fort Smith.

Most people think about California or perhaps farther South and into Florida when growing Figs comes to mind but in truth, we can grow just about any variety of Fig as can be grown anywhere, depending on how much effort we want to put into it, to ensure survival of the tree(s).

There are many varieties of Fig, some considered more "cold hardy" than others and so, more suitable to growing here if we simply want to plant them out in the yard as we might any other fruit tree suitable for our climate, while others will require protection of some sort during our cold winters that will kill most fig varieties.

Ok Charlie, what Fig varieties can I grow in and around Fort Smith? If it is listed in the right column blog archive below, then it is a good variety choice. More will be continually added as they are found locally or resulting from the Learning Fields at Chaffee Crossing Fig Trial.

We can grow even the pickiest of Fig if we want to have them in containers we can move into a garage or other suitable enclosure during the winter to protect them from killing temperatures and others may suffice in a greenhouse but these are not really the ones we want to focus on in this blog. Most people simply want to plant a tree and not go to a whole lot of effort.

It is advised that any Fig variety grown here be given some protection during Winter while young and until they are well established with woody bark. Even then there are no guarantees they will survive. Our purpose here is to help you decide which are the best choices according to known survivors in our area.

Variety topics are always in the Blog Archive.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Letizia Fig coming to Fort Smith Area

Just ordered a previously unheard of Fig by us, from Burpee Nursery, Letizia, to trial cold hardiness along with the rest of our varieties.  This Fig has a great historical story associated with it. Started on Our Figs Forum by Jerry (jmaler), one of the members in a discussion about Letizia.

Forum member Brent (hoosierbanana) shares the Letizia Fig history...

"Letizia “Letty” Castorani Gallucio, age 101, of Wilmington and Hockessin passed away peacefully at Kentmere Nursing Care Center on Sunday, February 22, 2015. Born September 28, 1913 in the small mountain village of Cagnano, Aquasanta Terme, Italy, Letty immigrated to America at age 7. Upon coming to America with her mother through Ellis Island, she moved to Russellton, in the coal region of western PA to join her father, and later to Staten Island, New York, where she graduated from Curtis High School, before moving to Wilmington, Delaware. Letizia married her first husband, Settimio, a local mushroom farmer. Together they owned the Colonial Inn Tavern and package store in Wilmington, which she ran for 30 years. Letty had a love for vegetable gardening, crocheting and visiting with friends and family. Letizia was a marvelous cook and all were welcome to her dining table where she delighted everyone with her homemade Italian specialties. After Settimio’s death, she married Frank Gallucio. Letty enjoyed traveling throughout the US and abroad. She returned to Italy many times to visit family and friends. In later years, she enjoyed time at Frames Senior Center in Wilmington. 

In the Italian language, Letizia translates to Joy and Happiness, which was very fitting. Letty greeted everyone she met with love and kindness. She saw the good in all people and brought out the best in everyone. In fact, her grandchildren nicknamed her “Fun”.


More info from last year's DCH rare plant auction:


Today, figs are grown the world over, showing up in the backyards of families who have nurtured them for generations. One such plant is ‘Letizia,’ named for Honorary Chair, Steve Castorani’s mother, who emigrated here from Italy in the early 1900’s. The family settled in Wilmington, at the outskirts of the city and Steve remembers the small backyard where the fig tree grew at the corner of the property. He assumes it was brought here by his mother’s father, who hailed from the Marche region of Italy on the Adriatic. Cuttings traveled with the family when they moved to Hockessin in 1965 and there it continues to grow and bear fruit, in the same spot, with Steve and his wife, Peg, in residence. As owner of North Creek Nurseries, Steve took some cuttings for fun and planted them out at the Pennsylvania site. A representative from Burpee, for whom North Creek propagates some plants, saw the fig growing in a “hot garden” near a garage on a nursery visit and told Steve, “You should name it and we’ll promote it.” He did and ‘Letizia,’ which means “joy,” sold out instantly from the Burpee catalogue when it appeared last year.

‘Letizia’ is a handsome plant with large, lobed leaves and strong branching, a tribute to the woman who just passed her 100th birthday. The pear-shaped figs 24 are sweet and luscious, turning from green to deep maroon as they ripen and often yielding two crops per season – an early one in June and another at the end of August. The auction fig is an established, containerized plant that will bear fruit this year. Steve says he has never done “the Italian thing” by elaborately covering the plant for winter, but suggests that any fig loves to grow in a protected spot, preferably against a wall. A variety of edible figs are offered at tonight’s auction, providing the opportunity to experience eating figs fresh from the tree – incomparable. Their bold foliage and shrub-like habit make them exciting landscape plants. Most benefit from winter protection, or by siting them against a house wall, and all need full sun for good fruit production."

Forum member "chuckell" has been growing Letizia for awhile and has gotten some ripe figs, which he compares to Hardy Chicago... "My Hardy Chicago was my first ripe fig ever this year with Letizia getting ripe right behind it, I think the Letizia was just a tad better in taste but you know what, I liked my Chicago's taste and I let them almost fall off the tree ripe, so maybe that's why they both tasted great."


Letizia left and Hardy Chicago right.



Jerry's Letizia, showing very similar leaves to Hardy Chicago...



I'm very much excited and looking forward to getting this variety, as I shared on the topic, "If it's as good or better than Hardy Chicago, I have to have it!"

3 comments:

  1. Nice read. That sure does look like the Chicago Hardy.

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  2. no it is not hc,it grows more bush and low branching out ,where my H-C, grows 6' tall this year branching out ,my letiza stayed around 3' in heigth,but bushed out heavy and had a good many figs, next year i should get a huge amount from it

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  3. Excellent blog!!, Thank you for gathering info from ourfig forum. It is getting more and more time consuming to gather information by searching and reading the thousands of posts. I applaud your style, keep it up!

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