Yes Figs Grow Around Fort Smith!


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, March 20, 2017

Spring 2017

Fairly mild winter except for a few isolated weather events, one of which saw 1 degree F and a couple others in the mid single digits.  That's about as cold as I ever remember.  All exposed growth that died was pruned off.  The good news is, all growth under the grass piles survived and is now pushing out growth.  

Every variety in-ground survived.  The following photo's aren't all but just a few to get a look under the grass which was pulled aside.  Many of the new shoots are lacking green due to being in the dark but they'll green up quickly now.

New ID tags were also placed today.

I learned something about dry grass clippings these past few months.  They stay dry under the surface of the pile, even after substantial rain events.  A sort of matting forms on the surface and the water runs off.  This is good for winter protecting figs.

Here's a couple of garage kept potted figs, just because I like how they look.  Warm late winter caused them to wake up early and so they have been shuffled in and out of the garage many times already.  Hope spring is nice to us!  

Monday, January 30, 2017

Foil Ball Air Layering of Figs

This was a fun little project last year that failed to make the blog in my business or laziness, however one wants to think. 

It began as an experiment in Etiolation...

Etiolation is a process in flowering plants grown in partial or complete absence of light. It is characterized by long, weak stems; smaller leaves due to longer internodes; and a pale yellow color (chlorosis).

I read in some article about etiolation being used as a treatment to pre-root some plant varieties that were for whatever reason, hard to root cuttings of.  There was some success mentioned, don't exactly remember.

So we set out to attempt to induce rooting of fig stems in empty foil balls with darkness and air being the only media, just to see if it would work.

This was the first one...

Kind of crude looking so some other method was thought about and settled on a foam ball mold of sorts, to press foil around and make clam-shells... 

Well that turned out pretty good and some more were applied empty and some with different media.  

Some peat pellets were laid into these and given different amounts of water.  Peat just doesn't work well enough for my liking to say anything more about it.

The next three photo's show root primordia forming in the empty foil balls over a few weeks time.

Root formation in just under a month with only four damp cotton balls laying in one half of the foil ball...

Successful root formation inside an empty foil balls in just under a month.

Next several photo's showing foil ball air layers applied to different trees with different media.  Note my trees are young and so they are small and these are all on small stems.  Bigger ones would be needed on larger stems so the root ball would support top growth once removed and re-potted.

Damp media is placed into each ball half, it's closed up around the stem and edges folded over to seal.   

So I really love the simplicity of applying these air layers and decided to make a better foil press out of plaster.  A box was built up around the original and plaster poured in

After hardening, it was removed, separated from the original and put back into the bottom of the box as the bottom half of a two-sided mold, coated with paste wax and another layer of plaster poured in...

After letting it set for a couple of days to harden, the box was removed and the halves separated.  We now have a foil press that works fairly well and much faster than the original.

Next several photo's are successful foil ball air layers.  Pure wood chip and leaf compost proved to be the superior media choice.  Peat worked as long as it didn't get saturated from rain getting in without drain holes.  See if you can tell the peat ones from the compost...

Note the dates.  Some varieties rooted quickly and some took a bit longer.  No scarring or girdling or rooting hormone was used on any at any time during this project from the beginning.  No additional moisture was provided after the initial setting of the air layers.  It was just damp.  

All were successful except for a few peat filled that somehow took on too much water, either from rain or watering of the figs and running down the stems into the balls.

All of them were potted into half tyvek envelope pots that were edge sealed with a seal-a-meal and these are what they remained in for the remainder of the year until they were given away for the most part.  Some have overwintered in the garage.  Tyvek breathes and so they do tend to dry out rather quickly versus plastic pots and needs checking more often for watering.

They fit perfectly snug into the small triangle Priority Mail shipping tubes.

That's about it.  Have fun.