NYC Figs ....

bronxfigsJuly 29, 2011

I lived in NYC all my life, and always remembered seeing fig trees growing in many backyards, getting tall enough to tower over the fences. Many of the "Old-Timers" covered these trees with tar paper, and they were almost always capped with some kind of bucket. This was a standard sight come Oct.-Nov.

Many changes have taken place over the last 20 or so years, and a lot of the older folks are gone, ... but their fig trees live on. But wait, they survived without the tar paper mummy wrappings of yesteryear.

So, my question: What kind of figs would most likely be growing in the NYC area? Most are dark red/purple figs that aren't very sweet, and the white figs are no better. Most of the uncovered/unprotected trees are the dark ones. Leaves are not deeply lobed, and look like leaves of BT. Also, these trees do not die back and re-sprout each year. They just increase in size. I remember one tree had a trunk that was probably 8"-10" in diameter. Then the house was sold, and the new owners chopped in down.

Just thought I'd ask.


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frozenjoe(9 Arizona)


I know exactly what you're talking about. I lived in the Throggs Neck area of the Bronx back when I went to grad school at Fordham. There were quite a few large trees in that neighborhood and near the campus. I think that many of those figs are unknowns that were brought over from the Old Country.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 2:34PM
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I went to Fordham for undergrad. Arthur Avenue was a heavilly Italian neighborhood and no doubt those folks planted a lot of figs.

To answer BronxFigs question- a colleague of mine grows figs in the ground here in Maryland. Same zone as NYC, perhaps a few degrees warmer on occassion. She did winter protection for two years, but now the figs do not need it. I would speculate that the tar paper and bucket is not necessary after 2 or 3 years.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 3:34PM
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Being around Chicago im just curious whats the low temps for the winters in these area's.
Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 4:28PM
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frozenjoe(9 Arizona)


I believe that most of NYC is on the border of zone 6 and 7.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 5:23PM
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The winter temps. can dip into the low teens, and every once a while it will plunge down to below 10 degrees, but I can't ever remember temps. going below zero.

Jan. and Feb temps. usually run from mid-20s to mid-30s at night, with mid-30s to mid-40s daytime temps. Occasionally, we'll have a cold snap, but the freezes do not last too long. I think we are really in Zone-8 most of the time, but can go down to Zone-7 on occasion.

I read that my unheated storage shed is probably 10-15 degrees warmer than outside temps. I've had no problems overwintering my fig tree since 2008, and I hope I continue to have no problems.

Happy growing! FDV

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 6:07PM
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Thanks Joe and FDV,
I guessed wrong for some reason i figured it was colder there.
I grow in containers and store them in attached garage over the years.
Grandmother used to grow 1 inground in Chicago and uncles would bury that tree each season.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 6:36PM
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I have lived most of my life in Queens, NYC and the temps are a little lower than you say. Last year went down to 5 degrees F, usually once a winter it goes below 10 degrees F and sometimes it dosen't go below the teens. Most of the figs I have seen in Brooklyn and Queens are Brown turkey, Italian everbearing, celeste, brunswick, and sicilian white as well as Italian Honey. Those are the ones that are not covered. There are many more that the locals cover but the ones I mentioned usually go uncovered.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 6:48PM
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Thanks, I didn't imagine that there would be so many varieties growing in the old Italian neighborhoods. Very interesting.



    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 7:40PM
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Well guys,
I was just born in the wrong state as it gets cold here darn it.
Last season it got to 18 below and few years prior 23 below thats not with the wind chill.
Last season we got blizzard of 23 inches snow.
Luckily the coldest i have seen in my insulated attached garage was between 6 to 8 above zero for the figs.
I should throw out the garage thermometer and forget about the temp in there.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 11:24PM
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