fig or feijoa or pomegranate?

cousinfloydMarch 22, 2013

I have a very unique microclimate I want to make use of to grow something marginally hardy for my zone 7. The south end of a block building is 12' wide and has a cold frame attached to it that's about 3-1/2' tall that I add glass to and use from February to early May. I'd like to plant something in the cold frame that could grow straight up out of the cold frame and then would start branching above the cold frame, preferably closer to the wall. Since the feijoa is evergreen it would have to be trained very close to the wall so as not to shade the plants in the cold frame. Which of the three plants could best be trained straight up to 3-1/2' and then be more or less espaliered (i.e. kept reasonably tight against the wall) to fill the remaining space up to 8' tall (about 12' in the middle) and 12' side? Would the artificially warm glassed area at the base of the tree cause problems? I have limited sunny, south-facing walls, so I'd like to make use of it if I can. What about a satsuma with some kind of added protection (like a big blanket draped down from the roof of the building) on the coldest nights?

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Get one of the cold hardy varieties of figs (like Chicago Hardy) or cold hardy Poms (Russian varieties).

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 11:51AM
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That's a tough question with the choices...

I haven't really had much luck "Training" figs... They kinda do what they want - I trim them to try to do something - and they die back more or less than I planned and head some other way...

and Pomegranate - I would classify this as an ugly, bushy, sticky shrub that makes huge, delicious fruit... Form wise - they more resemble a Blueberry or a Forsythia... aka a pile of sticks that produces fruit...

So... I suppose that leaves Feijoa.. otherwise known as Pineapple guava.... Think Azalea or Gardenia bush.... While the literature says they can get pretty big... the ones I have seen must be different varieties - as they are always pretty small...

I think you best bet of the 3 to "Train" into something other than a pile of sticks or a short bush would be the fig....


    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 1:23PM
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Thanks a lot, John. That makes a lot of sense, now that you thought it through for me. I'm new to pomegranates and I'm even newer to feijoa -- I don't even have a feijoa in the ground yet -- so figs are the only one of the three I really have any experience with. Are there any other trees/bushes/vines I should think about for a highly sheltered spot like this, something I wouldn't be able to grow just anywhere out in the open in zone 7? I would like to try a couple more fig varieties, though.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 4:57PM
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I have pomegranate, feijoa and figs and don't do anything to them but I would think the fig would be the easiest to work with. Also you would have to train 2 feijoas as they need to cross pollinate.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 6:37PM
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I am thinking Citrus would be cool and different.... Would fit the bill pretty well.... and NO ONE in your neighborhood has one... AND you could easily train it into just what you are looking for...

I would go with one of the specialty cold hardy Satsumas or something that tastes good... Wouldn't do a Trifoliate orange unless you are a glutton for punishment...


    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 10:51PM
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Feijoa can be espaliered, but the 1- and 2-year growth is very brittle. Hot nearby wall may limit fruit set; the pollen has a limited temperature range to be effective. Leaves show burning some weeks after low 20's and next year's blossom buds freeze at 15 degrees. Fig might be more practical.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 11:08PM
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ahajmano(sunset 23, Mission Viejo CA)

Not a big fan of feijoa myself. Pom and figs both need hot summer/autumn to get good and sweet.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 1:23AM
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yukkuri_kame(Sunset 19 / USDA 9)

My understanding is that figs have invasive roots.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 2:28AM
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Feijoa gets my vote since it it the only one not regularly available in the markets in most places in this country. I think the taste is fantastic. Plus, although marginal in terms of hardiness, it should be well suited to your climate otherwise, whereas the other two are really hot/dry climate lovers.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 9:07AM
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"Pom and figs both need hot summer/autumn to get good and sweet."

"whereas the other two are really hot/dry climate lovers."

These statements aren't really true if you pick the correct varieties. I would suggest you go to the fig forum here or figs4fun forum. There are figs suited for all types of climates, from the cool, cloudy/rainy PNW to the muggy and humid east coast.

There are many examples of fig espalier (do a google image search). I've seen pomegranates espaliered here in norcal.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 4:10PM
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If you go with Satsuma, try to get one that ripens the earliest. They are pretty cold hardy and can also be fast growers during the warm seasons. Mine are blooming now and the fruit will ripen in November. So you could prune them and cover them after harvest and only worry about them before harvest and during bloom. I have Owari and Tango. Owari is some sort of super dwarf, I don't think it is every going to get over 3 feet tall. It wants to go wide instead of up. The Tango only wants to go up. It has out grown all the other citrus in my collection. Both taste great and I keep them in pots but they should handle zone 7 up against a wall no problem.

The best pom's in my garden as far as care and winter hardiness are the most sour varieties (Russian). This winter for some reason 'Wonderful' has decided it likes cold weather. It may have heard me making threats towards it. We'll see if it fruits this summer.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 4:14PM
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Feijoa definitely out. They are marginal in my area (which is colder than most (hit 17F this year).

Plenty of pomegranates(most Russian area) and figs (hardy) will do well in Zone 7.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 8:45PM
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One thing I ran into with Citrus growth/habit tendencies and even fruit quality is rootstock.... Run the same scion wood on 2 separate rootstocks.... 1 will go STRAIGHT up and the other will bush out.... Others have a nasty habit of producing fruit that end up mealy/starchy when fully ripe...

That's when I forever swore off of buying Box Home Store citrus (I lived in South Florida...)

Commercial Grove oriented nurseries are WAY more expensive - but totally worth it....


    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 9:58PM
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I would put the fig elsewhere, unless you want to grow a particular variety that isn't cold tolerant.

In my zone 7 town figs are common at rental properties, where they get no protection or care at all. And they produce tons of yummy fruit!

Save your warm spot for something that needs it :).

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 1:44AM
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Floyd - Pomms, as far as Ive read, dont reliably fruit in NC. I think there are some hardier types (there is some pink russian one that is interesting), but I couldnt find too much. they also have a habit of being thickets rather then trees...

Figs can fruit in Chicago. A buddy of mine has a fig in Fayetteville area, and it only died back the first year. I have read as well the roots can be trouble down there, but think of it as an insurance policy, and also makes it so you dont have to replant any if the fit takes you.

It would also depend on what you would rather eat.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 7:58AM
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Thanks again, everyone, for the advice and for helping me think this one through. It's helpful even just to be reminded of the things I already knew, but you've opened my eyes to some new things, too. I have some trifoliate seedlings I started a few months ago from seed. I'm thinking I'll plant one of those in the cold frame, and I'll train it to one stem straight up, and when it gets up above the glass and out of the way, I'll graft some kind of citrus onto it or maybe more than one kind of citrus.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 8:07PM
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