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.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Where Did 2016 Go?

I apologize for not updating Figs Fort Smith all year.  It was a good year.  Our figs grew well and we got to eat a lot of good ones and some not so good, but that is to be expected from young trees.

We have determined our favorite figs so far to be mostly among the dark varieties with a few exceptions I will mention in a bit.

Here are a few fig photo's of ones we got to enjoy...



Raspberry Latte took top taste honors for 2016.  It's got a very distinct, intense berry flavor and a not often seen pink flesh under the skin.  Beautiful and delicious.


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Valley Black.  This fig is a new variety, discovered by Brian Melton around Fresno, California as a chance seedling, growing in a back yard.  To our knowledge, we are the first people in the country to have gotten ripe figs from this variety, away from its home state, proving it to be a common fig that sets fruit without caprification by the fig wasp.  

At first we thought it was going to be a smyrna variety, requiring the wasp, because it dropped many of the first figs before they developed.  Then one day this fig was noticed low on the tree and covered by ants.  Ants know a good fig!  

It doesn't look like the pollinated figs from the mother tree, which is expected.  Maroon outer skin with an amber pulp, this fig is definitely one to watch.  It was among the best tasting of the figs this year and should only improve and get larger as the trees age.  


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Some Celeste figs, harvested from a tree in Fort Smith.  We introduced the new owner of the property to her first ever fig.  She said it was like eating a little peach.  


MBVS is very berry and delicious.  Top ten.


Lebanese Yellow, sweet, not much else.


Smith is an excellent fig!


Cucumber, not our favorite but at the recommendation of others we're going to give it some time.


Sal's EL, top ten.


Black Bethlehem, very good, top ten.



All very good figs in the photo below, notably Sister Madeline's Unk Yellow Italian.  We learned not all yellow figs are alike.  This is one excellent fig and earns a top spot among the dark figs.  


Stella, a very good green/yellowish skin fig.  Very cold hardy.


Nero 600M very tasty.


Sister Madeline's Green Greek.  Top Ten.  We have narrowed this variety down to probably be the same as Vasilika Sika (fat leaf).  If not then a very close relative.


We only put a few of the more rare potted varieties into the garage for winter storage.  All the rest are taking a beating outside.  Some partially protected by covering the base of the trunks with dead grass piles and some are just sitting out there in pots.  Those are the ones we can live without and so they are being tested for cold hardiness.  Getting a good test this winter as temperatures have dipped into the low teens some nights.



The 2017 fig season is already underway.  Instead of overwintering fig cuttings outside like last winter, they are in grow bags in the garage...



Mostly Sister Madeline's Green Greek, planned for a community orchard project at Coop Prairie Church and a few other new varieties given to us and traded for.  These will be kept barely moist through the winter and set outside as the weather warms up.


Also as an addition to the Coop Prairie Community Orchard, we received a big box full of Hardy Chicago Fig cuttings from R Cantor in Missouri.  Thanks Bob! 


Washing the cuttings in soapy water.


Set out to dry before dipping the ends in wax.


Our very modest indoor project for the winter.  Got to have something going!


That's about it for now.  In the next week we hope to get some pruning jobs done for people in and around Fort Smith, especially this one we will leave you with.  A very unique fig in the Fort we're going to call Pear Jelly until such a time as a positive ID on the variety may be made.  It looks and tastes like pear jelly with a touch of cinnamon!














5 comments:

  1. Great job Charlie.I cannot wait to see what you do in 2017.

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  2. Finally an update lol. Great job Charlie! Brian Melton

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by Brian. Go Valley Black! :)

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  3. Congratulations on your Valley Black Charlie!

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