evil weed eater

sunny2b(7a/6b)June 9, 2012

I'm new to GW and to growing figs. I bought and planted my first fig this spring. My son annihilated it with the weed eater. :( Is there any hope it will come back? It was doing so well and had grown a foot in the past few weeks. Now all that's left is a twig sticking out of the ground.

I'm buying my first house, and may have been a bit ambitious. I've always dreamed of growing my own foods and being self sufficient. I planted three apple trees, and my other son's dog thought one was a toy. I found it lying at the back door shredded. Sigh. My gardening hopes are literally withering away...

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noss(Zone 9a Lafayette, LA)

Hi Sunny,

Welcome to the fig forum.

You gotta watch those weed-whacking males--They just go nuts with those things, destroying everything in its path. :) (Just kidding--Sorta.....)

My husband has been chopping away at my orange tree in the front yard. He chewed through a little branch a foot above the soil, then stuck it back together with that black, tarry tree paint. The branch died.

You might try putting a good-sized ring of some kind around your fig tree and that would also help to hold in the mulch that fig trees like. The mulch would keep down the weeds and hold moisture in around the tree. Don't give up on the little stub. Clear the grass away from it and put some edging around it, with some mulch, as I said and. You might cut any ragged edges off the stump to help it heal, with some very sharp pruning shears and seal the cut edge with some candle wax. The wax would work well if there are any ragged edges that you can't trim off.

You Could also dig it up and put it in the right-sized pot.

Do you have any photos of the poor little tree you could show to us?

Do you know what kind of fig tree it is?

Good luck with your little tree.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 11:47PM
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Fig trees with good roots are hardy. Yours might survive.

After Katrina destroyed our well established family fig tree, the next spring, it was full of new growth and many figs of an unusual sweetness. Today, it is a large tree again. Fig trees respond well to 'pruning', so all is not lost. If it does survive, it will have a better root network than a new tree, as a wounded tree goes into advanced "survive-at-all-costs" mode.

There is hope for your tree, but as beaten down as it is, you might wish to consider replacement if you can get a good fig tree. It is okay to plant a new one, even in the summer, although it is considered by many to be risky. I'm putting two potted trees in the ground today without fear.

The advice by noss above is good. You might indeed want to consider a large container and either potting your wounded fig tree into it, or getting a new tree and putting it into an appropriately large container. Container plants are much more likely to survive boys with power equipment.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 7:01AM
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My fig trees send out new growths from below ground level all of the time. Hard to say if yours will, since it's a young tree. It might. The best protection will be to send your son away to boarding school.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 11:25AM
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You tree might send up new shoots to replace what was damaged, but unless you employ more safety when using that weed-eater, this will be an ongoing problem. Weed eaters can ring/girdle even a well established tree in just a few seconds, and can wipe out years worth of growing.

Your fig tree and weed-eater should be separated.

By the way...garden centers sell stiff plastic, spiral wraps, used to protect the lower trunk of a tree, and to prevent weed-eaters from cutting through the bark. I would use two. Wrap them so they form a double-thick layer at the base. They expand as the tree trunk thickens.

Best cure...Let your son pay for what he damages. He'll learn very quickly. : )


    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 12:17PM
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Thanks all. I'm hoping for a fig miracle. :) I should have put a rock ring around it as I have done with other plantings, but I wasn't expecting him to do any cutting. I mean, I didn't ask/beg/demand for him to do it, so the fact that he did it is kind of amazing in itself.

Eukofios - Boarding school isn't really an option. He's in the local 2 year college but he has another year at home before he transfers to 4-year.

I'm going back to the nursery where I bought the fig sometime next week. Hopefully they have one or two left. Figs are not especially easy to find around here, but my grandmother had one when I was a little girl and it was for sentimental value as much as anything else.

Bronxfigs - I'll try to find the wraps. Wonder if they protect against labrador retrievers?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 6:38PM
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If you really want to get crazy about figs, there are lots of people who can send you cuttings, including me. That's best done in the winter. Most of mine are from cuttings and I don't even try that hard. I just stick dormant prunings into the ground and keep what grows - probably 75%. I do that in Feb or March, in my raised beds or vegetable planters, so they stay moist and protected. I've used fig prunings for garden markers and even those sprouted. It takes about an extra year, sometimes 2, to get to ripe figs, but it's cheap - ie, free except postage. Do you know what variety you had? If your mother's fig tree is still alive, you could take cuttings from hers, and have an heirloom fig.

Actually that is pretty impressive that your son tried to help. Maybe you should thank him, then provide some Army recruitment pamphlets. (I'm kidding).

Around many of my trees I have concrete tree rings. There were about $2 per section, so $6 total, for a ring. The URL is what I mean, except in that case there are irises in the ring instead of a tree in the ring. I mulch around the trunk to keep weeds away. The weedeater doesn't get near the trunk that way. Another option is cut an old plastic garbage can into rings about 6 inches to a foot in height, and place them around the tree such that half of the ring is underground. One garbage can can be used to make half a dozen or more rings. Mulch inside the ring, so there are no weeds. Again, the weedeater stays away from the trunk.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 7:24PM
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I like the trash can idea and the cuttings for postage idea as I am cheap...er..frugal. :) I wish I had access to my grandmother's figs, but the house was sold a number of years ago and is several states away.

I don't know what kind of fig I had. Until recently I didn't know there were so many kinds. As I mentioned, I am buying my first house, and want plants that will feed me or the birds, but definitely not plants that need constant care.

Thanks for your help. I'll try to remember to ask for cuttings when it's the right time of year. Oh and I did thank my son for weeding. It hurt but I thanked him, AND asked him to be more careful.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2012 at 8:58PM
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I see by your profile that you live in Zone 7b-6a. The 6a temps are what you need to worry about...the low end, not the high end will give you grief.

Pick and choose your figs carefully. You will probably have a short, growing season, and many varieties need long, hot, sunny summers to ripen main-crop figs. Please ask this forum which varieties will do well in YOUR area! East-Coast growing is vastly different that West-Coast. To answer any future questions you might have please let us know where you live. Will the figs be planted now...or, after you buy your new home? Where will the fig trees ultimately be planted?

Don't give up on the damaged tree. They usually send up sprouts.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 8:47AM
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Hi Frank,

I live in the mtns of western NC.

The house I'm getting is right next door to my parents. I'm getting it through Habitat for Humanity, so it's already been promised to me and we've done a LOT of work inside and out. That's where I will be planting.

I'm going back to the nursery where I got the fig sometime this week.I checked their facebook page, and they said they sell brown turkey figs. I'm waiting to hear if they have any left. I had planted it where it would get sun most of the day and next to the outbuilding for some protection.

I'm open to any suggestions.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 8:31PM
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I had cats that damaged my fig trees by sharpening their claws frequently. I took about a 1 foot section of 3" thin walled pvc pipe and made a straight cut from top to bottom with a jig saw. I then pulled the cut part so that it would slip over the tree trunk. No more cat scratchings and I found that it also protects the base of the tree from the toughest weed eaters.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 9:47PM
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Please try to find another variety of fig to grow. "Brown Turkey" might survive your winters, but it's probably not your best choice. The figs can be OK at best, and quite inferior and tasteless, if grown incorrectly. There are much better figs that will grow in your area. Give Dalton Durio a call @ Durio Nursery, LA. They sell a lot of figs that do well in the South. It will help to know your climate zone, especially in the mountains. Go to a climate zone map and type in your zip code. You will find your exact climate zone, and then you will be able to make a better selection, variety-wise than "Brown Turkey"

It's your lowest Winter temps. that you need to watch. Low temps. will damage, or kill, your fig trees. Do a search for overwintering fig trees. Get an idea of what you will need to do for your trees when cold weather hits your area.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2012 at 6:49AM
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