Growing Advice for Fig Trees
Hello all -
Sorry for the long post that contains many questions throughout the body of the text.
I am just trying to think of all my questions so hopefully I can have a really good yield of figs this year.
I would like to ask for some advice for the 2013 growing season for fig trees.
I am going to post this message in both the container gardening forum and the fig forum.
The trees range in size from ~ 2 feet to over 5 feet and are as old as 8 years (5 foot trees) to as young as ~ 5 years old.
Most of the yields in the past few years have been fairly small considering the number of trees I have in pots.
Some of the low yields were deserved because of a bit of lack of time to fertilize as much as I would have liked. However, I should have more time this year.
The containers I have been using for my fig trees are on the order of 10 gallons.
I have purchased new containers for this year due to the previous plastic pots degrading in the sun.
The previous pots were a gray stone color. The new pots are black plastic.
I have two pot sizes available for use: 15 gallon pots or 25 gallon pots.
Let me know if I should post some pictures of the current pots, new pots, or the trees.
Assuming a mix that allows for optimal root health does anyone have a prediction for how much increase in terms of overall health, appearance, fruit production, and growth of a fig tree I may expect to see when a tree is grown in a 15 gallon pot versus a 10 gallon pot (1.5x increase in volume of container) or a 25 gallon pot versus a 10 gallon pot (2.5x increase in volume of container) within 1 season?
I have used the gritty mix with very good results for various plants grown in the house in much smaller containers than 15 or 25 gallon pots. The container sizes are such that I have used about 3-4 quarts of the final prepared mix.
I am curious to know if the expectation of growth/fruit production/overall health for fig trees would be essentially the same for both the gritty mix and a freshly made batch of 5-1-1 where presumably there is little to no decomposition of the peat. Or would one mix over the other be considered superior for maximum growth/fruit production/overall health in a season?
I know between the gritty and 5-1-1 one difference is I can go much longer between repots assuming roots do not need to be pruned - up to 5 yrs for the gritty mix whereas the 5-1-1 should be replaced after 1 season due to decomposition of the peat component.
I am concerned about the weight issue of the gritty mix especially at container sizes of 15 to 25 gallons, which will be extremely heavy. The weight of the 5-1-1 would of course be considerably lighter. However, if I could expect much better growth in the gritty mix then I should go with that mix and try to get a dolly or something to move the containers from my garage to the side of the driveway.
I could try putting the pots on a plant dolly that has wheels that lock My driveway has a slight gentle slope that leads to the street. Is my assumption that with locked wheels on the plant dolly the pots will be heavy enough with the gritty mix to not roll down the driveway into the street with any strong winds? Would this be the case with each container size: 10, 15, and 25 gallons? I have to have something so that I can move the pots weekly a foot or so towards the inside of the driveway so that the tree branches will be out of the way when I cut grass.
The containers will be located outside, in the Saint Louis area, in full sun all day in summertime temperatures that may be anywhere between 80 to 100 degrees.
Since I assume some have switched from growing fig trees in peat based soils to either the 5-1-1 or the gritty mix, I would be interested in hearing about your experience. If pictures are available of the tree growing in the gritty or 5-1-1 mix compared to peat based soils please post.
I last did root pruning in spring 2011 and so I am planning to again root prune this year. I have noticed that for the last few years my trees tend to break dormancy around the end of February.
Unfortunately, this means I should root prune (I think) toward mid February. However, mid February is still too cold outside to work comfortably for extended periods of time � especially if I will be washing off peat based soil from roots to transfer into the gritty mix.
In order to rinse any remaining peat based soil off of roots how long may I keep the roots in a bucket of water (instead of spraying with a hose as I did the last time I root pruned) without risk of killing the roots. I figure in this way I can gently raise and lower the roots in the bucket to release the last bits of soil after I remove the tree from the container or if I need to I can use my hand within the bucket of water to quickly remove the soil. I could set this up inside the garage to shield against cool/cold weather.
Should I cover the new black plastic pots with a reflective or white material (fabric) so as not to build up too much heat in the root zone due to the black color of the containers?
Also, would covering the containers with, for example, a white fabric be effective to help protect the containers from sun damage since the fabric should help to scatter the UV sun rays?
If I make the gritty mix using a 50lb bag of turface that has been screened (through insect screen) and 3 cubic feet of screened (through insect screen) fir bark (1/8 inch to
1 /4 inch from oakhill gardens) and a 50 lb bag of gran-I-grit grower size screened through insect screen, approximately how many of the 15 gallon and how many of the 25 gallon containers could I fill with the appropriate volume of soil? I have some calculations below.
If I remember correctly, Al Tapla indicated the above combined mixture should result in 7 cubic feet of total mix. Assuming I have remembered correctly then I calculate an equivalent amount of gallons of mix as 52.4 gallons:
7 ft^3 * (12 inches)^3 / (1 ft)^3 * (2.54 cm)^3 / (1 inch)^3 * 1 milliliter / 1 cm^3 * 1 gallon / 3.78 liters = 52.43 ~ 52.4 gallons.
Where: 7 ft^3 -- is 7 cubic feet - the ^ symbol indicates raising the previous number to the third power
Therefore, for a 10 gallon, 15 gallon, and 25 gallon container:
52.4 gallons * 1 pot / 10 gallons = 5.24 = 5 pots per gritty mixture as made above.
52.4 gallons * 1 pot / 15 gallons = 3.49 = 3.5 pots per gritty mixture as made above.
52.4 gallons * 1 pot / 25 gallons = 2.09 = 2 pots per gritty mixture as made above.
To try to get an idea of the cost comparison of the gritty mix compared to miracle grow peat based mix, I have calculated the following.
Price per pot of gritty mix (includes shipping price of fir bark to my location � I wish I could get a local store to bring some bark in for sale!):
~ $8 for a 50 lb bag of turface, ~ $8 for a 50 lb bag of Gran-I-Grit grower size, and ~ $35 for a 3 cubic feet bag of fir bark in the size range of 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch (including shipping and handling) = $51.
Price per gallon of gritty mix: $51/52.4 gallons = $0.97 / gallon.
For comparison: 64 quarts * 1 gallon / 4 quarts = 16 gallons of peat based miracle grow soil locally purchased for ~ $12.
Price per gallon of miracle grow peat based soil: $12/16 gallons = $0.75 / gallon.
The table below indicates the price equivalent of using the prepared gritty mix as described above compared to the price equivalent of using locally purchased miracle grow. As shown in the table, there is not a substantial difference in price to obtain a superior mix like the gritty mix.
Example calculation for:
$ Equivalent of Gritty Mix Used per Pot (10 gallon pot): 10 gallon/52.4 gallons * $51 = $9.73
$ Equivalent of Miracle Grow Peat Based Mix (10 gallon pot): 10 gallon/16 gallons * $12 = $7.50
10 gallon $9.73 $7.50 $2.23 (10/52.4)* 100 = 19.08%
15 gallon $14.59 $11.25 $3.34 (15/52.4)* 100 = 28.62%
25 gallon $24.33 $18.75 $5.58 (25/52.4)* 100 = 47.70%
The second column above represents the price equivalent of using the indicated percentage of the total prepared gritty mix for the 10, 15, and 25 gallon containers.
The third column above represents the price equivalent of using the peat based mix for the 10, 15, and 25 gallon containers.
The fourth column above represents the diffeence in price between using the gritty mix and the peat based mix for the 10, 15, and 25 gallon containers.
Therefore, row 1 suggests the 10 gallon container uses ~ 19% of the total prepared gritty mix and represents $9.73 of the total $51 for all of the prepared gritty mix compared to $7.50 for using 10 gallons of the peat based mix. The difference in price for the mixes for the 10 gallon pot is $2.23.
After transferring into either the gritty mix or the 5-1-1 mix after root pruning do I need to tie down the trees in some fashion to the containers to keep the trees from blowing over in the wind? If so, could I remove the ties in 2 weeks, 1 month?
I am using Foilage Pro 9-3-6 and ProTekT 0-0-3 as fertilizer.
What would be the best fertilizing schedule for the trees assuming the gritty mix or the 5-1-1? -- Half dose 1 time per week with just giving water as needed the remaining times to compensate for water used by the plant/lost due to heat evaporation?
Last year in peat based soil I fertilized full strength with the same fertilizers every 3-4 days and tried to flush with water every couple of weeks. I managed to get a lot of fruit set but a lot of fruits also dropped I think because of the hot weather � we had a couple of weeks of 105 degree weather � I think I should have given them water both in the morning and at night � instead of just at night.
I add 1.25 teaspoon of 5% white vinegar to 1 gallon of water to make my fertilizer solution slightly acidic.
Do fig trees need slightly basic fertilizer solution as it seems I have seen in some posts � Should I not acidify the water?
The first year or so I put a small amount of garden lime on top of peat based soil at the beginning of spring as I read about in some posts. However, I have not added lime in recent years.
I have a question concerning old fig branches and decreased fruit production.
I know the breba figs come on wood from the previous year and the main crop on new wood.
I have had some of my trees since 2005 and have never cut a branch off or pruned a branch. Will removing a branch or branches produce stronger new growth and better/more figs?
Should I remove branches or parts of branches?
So, after all that I have discussed, please give me advice on the things I should change: container size, mix, pruning, pH, fertilizer frequency/strength etc. so I can get the best possible growth/fruit production this year.
Sorry for the long post. But I am really trying to get good fruit production this year.