Stepover figs

bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)September 18, 2012

I had made a post on the fig forum looking for ideas on how to prune a fig when one of the people there directed me to a picture of how the Japanese grow figs. I absolutely loved the idea and I have been trying to figure out what to plant around my pool cage and seems like a perfect and fun project. Just wondering if anyone here has tried it? I plan to weld rebar posts to sections of rebar to act as the guide to tie to.

Scroll down to the bottom two pictures.

Here is a link that might be useful: Stepover fig

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Thanks, that's interesting to see, and in a greenhouse. I'm going to plant figs, for the first time, in my greenhouse this winter. Not sure I need them that small but does tell me what the limits are and where I could go. Pruning that hard takes out all the breba but everyone says they aren't that good anyhow.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 5:45PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Bamboo, I've got a question for you. If I cut some figs back like this in winter and either pruned again later or spread out pruning could I spread out the harvest? Like you I have a 300 day growing season. Could we have ripe figs for 6 months?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 5:55PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Fruitnut,

I'm surprised you don't already have figs growing. I never ate a ripe fresh fig in my life until it was one I grew..I adore them and have been missing out all these years. I love how fast they grow also.

In the Japanese style you can grow the arms in any shape and I think it just looks cool as well as giving high quality fruit and I know that is one of your goals.

I like the idea but I have read up on the figs a lot and I never have heard that mentioned so my bet is it wouldn't work. I know you can greatly spread out the harvest with the different varieties though.

My second crop celestes are just ripening now and my Ischias will probably be a few weeks. If you blow up that picture in my "Before and after" post you can see the figs on the Ischia, well one branch of it anyway.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 6:56PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

bamboo_rabbit,

Thanks for posting this. I will definitely try this with my Chicago Hardys.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 9:58PM
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rina_

fruitnut

Are you planting that fig in cold or heated greenhouse?

Rina

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 10:42PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Rina:

My greenhouse is heated only to keep it from freezing. So nights are cold in winter but days warm to 60-80F except during chilling cycle which lasts 45-60 days. During chill cycle I hold temperature between 37 and 60F as much as possible.

I have 300+ warm days each year. This year I've had ripe figs since June and have another month coming.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 12:10AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Fruitnut,

What varieties do you grow?

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 8:44AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Bamboo:

Strawberry Verte, a green fig, is my favorite. Paradiso is nearly the same but a more open eye. Black Jack is a huge dark fig. I think if I get the water right it will be good but is often watery. Vista, near identical to Violet de Bordeaux, is an OK small dark fig. No luck with Celeste or Blue Celeste, fruit is small and tasteless.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 11:38AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Fruitnut,

Far as I can tell by reading Strawberry Verte is the same as green Ischia, correct? I have that one also, it is loaded with figs but none ripe yet. I also have celeste and celebrity which I also think are the same. I have black mission, Texas everbearing, Magnolia and LSU Purple bought and on the way.

Isn't it funny that you don't like celeste and I loved it....but it is the only fresh fig I have ever had. If it is actually of poor quality then I should just go nuts for the others.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 12:12PM
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vieja_gw(z7NM)

Gosh, wonder what variety of fig I have (cuttings have been passed down through the family for years)? It has huge roots going out from the base & if I didn't prune it well, it would be a tree!! It froze back to the ground year before last but this year is huge again & loaded with figs! I don't care for figs to eat really but like the look of the leaves! There are some fig trees growing about 40 miles south of us (we are zone 7 & 5200 altitude)& very, very old!

So a fig can be espaliered like grapes or apples, etc.? If so, it would be attractive I bet!

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 8:20PM
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MrClint

Seems more experimental and trendy than it is practical. I'm not seeing the advantage with this method. Figs are some of the most trouble free, productive and easy to care for trees on my lot. They are attractive trees as well in their natural form - adding a somewhat tropical appearance.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 12:43PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Trendy? Not much of a trend as nobody knew what it was. I doubt the commercial Japanese farmers are doing it to be "trendy" as it is for their livelihood. Generally the Japanese are interested in high quality not quantity.

The design is very practical as it keeps the trunk and major limbs low to the ground which protects them from cold and winter damage. Really not very hard to figure out.....

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 3:35PM
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MrClint

I thought calling it trendy was being kind. This form is not all that new, and is not limited to figs. It does have a lot of value for people with limited mobility (wheelchairs, etc) and/or smaller people, children's gardens, etc.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 5:51PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

MrClint,

No, calling it "trendy" was simply wrong. You also call it "experimental" but now say it is nothing new? Not really a think outside the box type person are you? Anyone can plop a fig in the ground and ignore it and get fruit.

I can see a lot of advantages to using this system, can't you?

1. protect the plant from cold.

2. keeps the canopy within reach for easy picking.

3. adds an artistic touch to an otherwise boring plant.

4. It allows more varieties to be grown as each fig while mature takes up much less space.

I'm sure many more reasons could be mentioned. For me it would be a combination of 3 and 4 though mostly #4. There is more to gardening than just production. The form of the plants grown that way simply looks cool to me, has a modern art feel to it.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 6:14PM
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MrClint

Yes, it is way outside the normal fig tree form, which predates written history, so it is going to take some experimentation. It's not guaranteed to work - you may have mixed results or failures. Go ahead and get started and report back how well it worked out for you. Keep us posted.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 6:47PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Well the Japanese have been doing it that way for a long time. Will let you know how it works.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 6:54PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

mrclint,

I just have to say that seeing these photos gave me hope. Living in zone 5 is a lot different that your zone 10. Maybe I can just get this to work. If I do I will be very happy!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 7:22PM
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MrClint

milehighgirl, here is a photo deck with some descriptions. I'm not seeing any info where this form is being used for figs because it works better in cold regions.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 7:39PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Wow....really? So you have a fig maintained and pruned down to say 12 inches tall.......as opposed to a free form fig say 10 feet tall. You can't work out for yourself which system would work better to protect the tree in winter?

    Bookmark   September 22, 2012 at 7:51PM
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MrClint

These Japanese stepover figs are growing in a prime fig growing climate. The growers are using this method because they feel that it makes for better figs, not because of colder temps. You are guessing that this form will perform better in a colder climate.

The recommendation for figs in colder climates is to keep the tree in a bush form. There is no difference/advantage to maintaining a main trunk with two long branches that are low and parallel to the ground. Your guesses may lead to other people's losses.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 10:46AM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

MrClint,

(rolls eyes) I thought you said the Japanese grew in this style because it was "trendy" and "experimental"? Now you say it is because it produces better figs?

A person with any bit of logical thought though can see the method has applications for those that live in cold climates. Take those that grow figs in the northeast.....a lot of the growers there that are growing figs that need protection tie the figs branches together then wrap the figs in fencing and fill the fencing with leaves OR bend the limbs to the ground and cover them with soil or leaves for the winter. Some people go as far as to build structures around the figs. Now if you grow a fig that has no upward growing branches in winter and the main trunk is horizontal and 12" from the ground would it not be easier to protect in that form? Absolutely, to argue otherwise makes you lose any small bit of credibility you had left.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 12:04PM
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MrClint

You make guesses and you attack. The last time you went into attack mode, you were bashing me for recommending Wonderful Pomegranates. I have a lifetime of success with them, and an industry has been built around them, and you still attacked. You said that there are better and more hardy varieties available, you had no data on the hardiness, and your proof on taste was a taste test from a one year sampling where Wonderful faired well. You didn't post in the topic until I made my recommendation. A few weeks later you are asking for help with your Chlorotic Pomegranate problems. You guessed that spreading rabbit manure all around your trendy pomegranates in the summer was the way to go. Your guessing and attacking isn't very helpful.

"Ok these pomegranates are giving me fits..." --bamboo_rabbit

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 12:11PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

MrClint,

You have a very sketchy memory it seems. I never bashed you for recommending wonderful..you stated it was the best and I just pointed out you were wrong. You insisted that Wonderful was the best pom because you grew it and it was a widely grown commercial crop...I simply posted multiple taste test results that proved that was not the case. What I posted was facts.....it is a fact that wonderful is not the best tasting pom and it is a fact that wonderful is not close to being the most hardy. Just facts..... If you disagree with those FACTS post a study that shows wonderful is the best tasting and the most hardy. You assumed since you grew it it just has to be the best LMAO.

My Poms do give me fits, so? Florida is not the best environment for them but I will figure them out eventually or remove them. They are new to me and I am learning I love trying new things, you don't seem to embrace that approach or have a very open mind.

Now what does any of that Pom stuff has to do with your stating that stepover figs were "trendy" and "experimental" and then contradicting yourself? What does that pom stuff have to do with your inability to understand that a plant 12" off the ground might be easier to protect from the cold?

It seems you got your feelings hurt over the pom thread and brought that chip on your shoulder to this thread. That Clint is quite sad and amusing at the same time.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 12:47PM
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MrClint

Just pointing out your pattern of guessing and attacking. :)

I'll repeat that it will take some experimenting to get this to work. It is a fairly elaborate setup.

The packaged figs have a fair amount of splitting:

Big and juicy looking figs to be sure.

Trends are good because they push the bar, but they are not a substitute for tried and true methods and varieties.

You are free to have the last word or continue your attack.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 1:20PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Clint,

You came to the thread I started just to cause trouble. Why? Because you got your feelings hurt in a previous thread.

If you want to discuss the pros and cons of stepover figs you are more than welcome to do so. I will be sure to keep the thread updated as the plan moves forward.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 2:32PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Well, while you guys bicker I'm gonna ask about thoughts others might have regarding using this system, pipes and all, for some sort of solar or geothermal heating.

Are there options that someone can think of to supply inexpensive heat to the pipes to keep them warmer in winter? I for one am planning on trying this system out with my Chicago Hardy. If I can get it to work maybe I can even try something like a Royal Vinyard.

So far my Chicago Hardy have died back every year. If I could prevent that from happening then I might have a chance to get some ripe figs. Right now I have two figs on this years growth, but I don't think they will have a chance to ripen.

Anyone have ideas or can point me where to look?

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 6:54PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Milehighgirl,

By die back do you mean to the ground? If that is the case how much growth do you get back? In other words how tall are your figs now? The problem is even if you do the stepover it still involves cutting the upper branches off every year. It is my opinion that the barely above ground horizontal arms will allow the upper fruiting arms to grow back faster so you will get fruit but I have no proof of that, just a guess.

Have you tried simply bending the branches down to the ground and burying them in soil or leaves/hay? I know up north that is what some people do. The figs are very supple and over the coarse of a week or two you should be able to get them to ground level.

Far as supplemental heat.....I would be worried it would cause them to break dormancy and that is the last thing you would want.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 7:52PM
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vieja_gw(z7NM)

Another fig ? .. may I interupt this posting for another ?!

How can I start one from mine for another person that would like a start? I sent a cutting one year to another person back east growing figs that wanted to try the one I have as it seems to be pretty winter hardy. Should I wait & try a cutting in the spring, try layering a lower branch now?

Thanks ... now I will go!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 8:00PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Vieja,

You can air layer or just do cuttings once dormant. I was just looking at this page today for instructions....I think it is just what you are looking for.

Here is a link that might be useful: fig propagation

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 8:10PM
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vieja_gw(z7NM)

Thanks so much 'bamboo rabbit'... that is JUST what I needed to get ideas!! I will try layering now with some lower branches, though I know it is probably too late in the season (esp. if we get more freezes this winter ...) but it is worth trying until I can then try cuttings early next spring. I need now to see how many of the figs are ready to pick ... odd, the birds leave them alone!
I tried burying a growning portion of a Triple Crown Thornless blackberry cane to try & get a start for a friend that loves the huge berries I get from them! Will see next spring if it has rooted again on that buried portion.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 8:33PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Vieja,

Do you have to wait till spring to take the cuttings? I didn't think that was the case.

What I do with my brambles is cover a portion of the stem lightly but hold it down with a brick...for me it works much better.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2012 at 8:57PM
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MrClint

I don't have to deal with freezes and such, so I don't really have a stake in winterizing figs, nor do I have first hand knowledge of how or what to do. In the North East there are folks that have to deal with it, and they have some interesting ways of winterizing while still keeping the standard fig tree form:

Feel free to check out this blog post if you are interested in how they do it. There are a number of options that might be worth trying.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 12:09PM
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mrsg47(7)

Bet the neighbors love looking at that all winter! LOL

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 11:29AM
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MrClint

Good point MrsG. The rest of the yard doesn't look all that great either. I'm on a suburban lot and I'm not sure I could get sign-off from the wife on that thing. She sure does love dead-ripe fresh figs, so it might be a toss-up. If I had the time I would do a Photoshop dress up of that monstrosity just for grins. :)

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 1:13PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

See Clint.....another good reason for stepovers. You cover them in woodchips and they are hidden from view and yet still protected. Add that to the positives list :)

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 5:35PM
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mrsg47(7)

Bamboo, the pictures of the step overs are stunning, wish I could grow figs that looked like that! In my zone 7a-b it is far to cold. I need a fig that will die back and return. Will try a 'Chicago' variety this spring. Beautiful pics by the way. MrsG

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 7:33PM
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MrClint

That was nice. On topic and not an attack. Well done.
Safe to say the wrapping of a fig tree for winter could be done much more decoratively. But I'm sure we all knew that. :)

I would not want to talk anyone out of the stepover figs if that's what they intend to do. Someone, please give it a try. Again, I don't have a stake in the matter. Still OK to ponder other options that include successful examples in this thread I hope.

There's a guy in Philly that had problems wrapping his trees, stopped doing it, and still has some awesome figs.


"The tree which bears enough fruit to bring in 40 dozen or so figs to the farmstand each week for the better part of 2 months in early fall."

There appears to be plenty of hope for cold weather figs. And it seems that folks in Philly are trying a lot harder than most places.

Here is a link that might be useful: Giovanni: The Man Behind the Figs

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 12:45PM
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bamboo_rabbit(9A Inverness FL)

Clint,

You came to this thread for the sole purpose of causing trouble due to your having your feelings hurt in the pom thread. If you are civil I certainly will be. I use to argue for a living.....I am very good at it:)

NYC is loaded with fig trees and a lot of those are not protected at all. There are 100's of varieties of figs and some do well in the cold and some do not. Planting next to a south wall will help especially if it is masonry. A microclimate can make a huge difference as well.

I hope to have 30 varieties of figs growing here in the next couple of months.....not all will be stepovers of course. I will leave that experiment to the more common type figs until I know it works here and gives the desired results.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 1:20PM
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vieja_gw(z7NM)

Yes, my fig & pomegranates are both against a west facing metal/ steel walled garage .. so if they do freeze- & we have had minus 18 some years ago & minus 7 last year here in zone 7 @ 5,250 ft. elevation at my place-, they grow back from the roots the next year & the next are loaded with fruit again. I do not know the variety of fig (the fruit is not that big) but the 'pome is 'Wonderful' & huge fruit. Good to know they (figs) too grow outdoors in NYC too!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 1:36PM
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foolishpleasure

I have 24 trees of figs and I started with two. FIGS LIKE MEDITERRIAN which unfortunately I don't have. I PUT SOME OF MY TREES IN THE GREEN HOUSE. But make sure the temperature does not go over 40 for at least two months to give the tree chance to go dormant if not your production will be insignificant. A fig needs 75 to 80 days to ripen and to enhance ripening you have to clip the branches to let the tree concentrate on ripening the fruits instead of growing more branches. Please fellows who don't live in California or Arizona pick the self pollinating varieties. Fig needs Fig wasp for pollination and fig wasp lives in California and ARIZONA. Last season we had 5 bushels of sweet ripened figs which my family enjoyed and the neighbors got gifts too. the varieties i have are brown turkey, black mission, chicago hardy, LSU, Celesta and desert king.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 3:55PM
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MrClint

Good to see some first hand successful experiences on the topic. :)

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 6:18PM
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