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Better luck this year?

Posted by jaymo49 9a (My Page) on
Sun, Feb 28, 10 at 10:57

I planted a fig tree in the summer of 2008. I think it was a Brown Turkey, I bought it at Lowes. It had one little fig on it the first year that fell off. Not one fig last year. It is barely bigger than when I planted it. I am thinking of hitting it with some epsom salts and coffee grounds, but I really don't know what I am doing, and don't want to mess up the ph that it might need. Do they like acid or alkali soil? And can you recommend anything to make this little (15 inches tall, and it was 12 inches when I planted it) turkey grow, or do I just have a derelict that belongs on the compost pile? I hate to waste 7 years before I get my first fig, I am not getting any younger... :)


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RE: Better luck this year?

This is my opinion and suggestion.
Your plant can be sitting on hard or clay type soil.
I would dig it out ( about the basketball size ) and dig a large hole ( 2ft wide x 2ft deep ) and mix top soil or potting mix with woodchips or pine bark. Get that soil loose so that the roots can move/grow. Place the rootball center and cover with an inch or two with the new soil/mix. Water daily for the first season.

I'm sure there are others in your zone that will have some better advise. I am in Michigan so my soil is much different than yours.

Good luck,
Rafed

Not sure how Bing got involved with my response.


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RE: Better luck this year?

Very good advice Rafed I would also add to check for RKN when you dig out. If none present follow that advice and start a fertilization program whether it be liquid or granular at bud break
Sal


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RE: Better luck this year?

If the native soil isn't conducive to fig growth, I would move it rather than amend the growing hole. Having said that, I wouldn't move it just yet, either. Some plants are slow to get going.

Given your area, I would second the recommendation to check for RKN. Expose and examine some roots about a foot away from the trunk of the tree. If there are gals (will look like a brown pearl) on the roots, you've got 'em.

~james


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RE: Better luck this year?

I agree with what James suggests in his first sentence. I would add the following:

It is very important to insure that the area around your young in-ground fig tree REMAINS MOIST during its early growth and development. You do not want the ground to ever get completely dry during the first season or two. Keeping the ground moist during the first year is usually MORE IMPORTANT than fertilization. Fig trees do not need a lot of fertilizer once established in a fertile soil.

I would NOT use Epson Salts. I would fertilize that tree with some 8-8-8 granular fertilizer. Sprinkle a small amount directly on the ground around your tree. Just afterwards wet the fertilizer in with a hose. Keep the area moist under your tree. If after 3 weeks your tree does not respond by producing new growth......again sprinkle another small amount of fertilizer under the tree and wet it in again. Keep the area near your tree moist. Continue doing this until your tree DOES RESPOND.....discontinue adding fertilizer at this point but do continue to keep the area around your tree moist. This is the fertilization method that I use for my many in ground fig trees. It works very well in my zone 9 climate and soil type.

Dan


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RE: Better luck this year?

Thanks, folks,
I went out this afternoon and dug up the little guy. I didn't see any brown pearls, so I guess I am RKN free. The dirt was awful though, my dirt is almost like beach sand. So I added a lot of composted cow manure, planted it again and watered it well. I'll hit it with some 8-8-8 when the weather warms up a bit. I think I was in denial about my bad bad dirt, I'll try to do better this season, and maybe I'll have some figs this year!


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RE: Better luck this year?

Jaymo49
the fig plants enjoy a PH aound 7.0 or slightly higher.
They thrive better in slightly alkaline soil as opposed to acidc soil which most evergreens enjoy. You can test your soil if you wish before adding anything to it and if you find it acidic just add some lime and retest from time to time.
One other thing i would like to add is fig plants love as much sun as you can give them.
Martin


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RE: Better luck this year?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 3, 10 at 22:52

Jaymo - first, coffee grounds (used) and Epsom salts are going to have no measurable effect on your soil pH; however, you should never add Epsom salts or other compounds targeted at a single element unless you've had a soil test indicating the need, or you have very good reason to suspect a (in the case of the Epsom salts) magnesium deficiency. The reason I say this is because adding Epsom salts (MgSO4) without adding a calcium source can easily create what is termed an antagonistic deficiency of Ca. Ca and Mg need to be present in soils not only adequate amounts, but also in a favorable ratio (to each other).

Also, the idea that you should amend your planting hole with anything but native soil is passe. It has been the consensus for many years that you should only backfill with the soil you remove from the hole. This is especially true in heavy soils.

About fertilizer: W/o a soil test, anything you use will be simply a guess (at what's actually needed) and will be something of a shotgun approach. It makes the most sense, when you're just guessing, to supply nutrients in as close to the same ratio as plants use them. Plants use about 6x more N than P, and about 1.5x more N than K. 8-8-8 supplies all the elements in equal measure, and doesn't take into account the differences in assimilation rates. It makes much more sense when you're using the shotgun approach to use a fertilizer like 24-8-16, 12-4-8, or 9-3-6. I'm not saying that 8-8-8 won't work - just that the formulas I suggested would be a better choice for supplementing your trees - especially true if they were in containers, but still true for trees planted out.

Al


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RE: Better luck this year?

Jaymo,

So your soil looks like beach sand. Unfortunately, that is not the best soil for growing figs and likely the reason your young tree is struggling. If I were you, I would definitely contact my county agent for some specific advice for your area and your particular situation.

Dan


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RE: Better luck this year?

Jaymo,

Below is a link to an LSU Publication on Figs. You may find this information helpful. Notice that the experts at LSU recommend using 8-8-8 for fertilizing fig trees. LSU has been studying figs for well over one hundred years. They even had one of the few fig breeding programs in the world. The horticulturists at LSU are the REAL EXPERTS on fig cultivation. You do not need to be concerned with the above referenced nutrient element ratios of your fertilizer. Either 8-8-8 or 13-13-13 works just fine as evidenced by the countless number figs trees growing in Louisiana with this type fertilizer. And growing and producing figs without any problem, I might add.

Dan

Here is a link that might be useful: LSU Fig Bulletin


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RE: Better luck this year?

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 4, 10 at 14:20

Jaymo - You are dealing with young trees in a sandy soil, which allows the leaching of N rather quickly. 1:1:1 ratio fertilizers like 8-8-8 and 13-13-13 are low in N in relationship to the amount of P and K the plant can use. Consider two things - A) based on the nutrients in the fertilizer, you cannot supply adequate N w/o over-supplying both P and K. B) You have young trees that you are struggling to get established. Reducing the amount of N supplied, which is a strategy to inhibit vegetative growth to (hopefully) encourage more inflorescence, will be counter-productive to your short term goals of getting the trees established and coaxing them into gain some mass .... asap.

Trying to take someone else's very general one-size-fits-all advice and apply it specifically often leaves you trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. The link leads to very general advice and simply offers what one person believes another person 'might' think, which is more than a little removed from addressing your issue specifically. I would be happy to discuss this specific issue with the person who wrote that advice, an arborist, horticulturalist, openly, on this forum. While you certainly can use a 1:1:1 ratio fertilizer, a 2:1:2 ratio would be better for your application, and a 3:1:2 ratio, like those I suggested, better still.

Worry first about the well being of your plant(s), and second about what kind of fruit yield you might realize in the immediate future. I hope that particular perspective and the fact that plants actually use more N than either P (6x more N than P) and K when they are growing normally will help you see the reasoning is sound. It's not 'end-of-the-world' in its importance though, so not worthy of a lot of additional fuss. I just thought you might appreciate the info on a nutrient supplementation strategy. I hope it didn't confuse you.

Take care.

Al


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RE: Better luck this year?

Follow the well WRITTEN and DOCUMENTED advice given by the LSU FIG EXPERTS (link above) and you will be very pleased with the restults.

Dan


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RE: Better luck this year?

Thanks for all your advice folks,
I think my tree will have a better year this year after all. It even looks happier since I moved it. I read the LSU bulletin and it sounds like I need to mulch it, so I'm heading outside to do that after I feed it. One last question-- in the bulletin it was talking about peeling the figs. Do Brown Turkey figs have to be peeled before I would make jam? Someone gave me some figs last year (I don't know what kind) and I didn't have to peel them, just cut them up.


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RE: Better luck this year?

Whether you peel a fig or not depends on the toughness of the fig's skin (and that is determined by the particular variety of fig) and whether you are making fig preserves or fig jam. Many people in Louisiana prefer fig preserves which are made with whole figs and are preserved in a syrup. Both Celeste and Brown Turkey figs do not require peeling either for making preserves or jam. Tougher skinned figs....such as Alma or Smith....need to be peeled or the whole fig chopped and made into a jam. The cooking process will tenderize the skins of chopped, tough skinned figs....but not whole tough skinned figs.

Dan


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RE: Better luck this year?

I read what Dan's saying and think it's sound advice.

One thing struck me funny, though, and it has nothing to do with Dan, but evcerything to do with "experts" and what they write. This may read like a rant, although it's not intended to be that. It's just something to think about.

I encourage everyone to always try read as much as possible from the "experts", and see what is similar between all of them - BUT take EVERYTHING with a grain (or pound) of salt, even from the "experts" ... read around and experiment, if nothing else, you'll learn a lot.

I have a perfect example. Will link the thread after the summary.

In another thread on another forum here at GW, a person asked whether 4 hours of sun was enough to plant a garden. One person pointed out that "experts" at the North Carolina Agriculture Department had written, "The garden should receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. Eight to 10 hours each day is ideal. Vegetables should therefore be planted away from the shade of buildings, trees, and shrubs. Some leafy vegetables such as broccoli, collards, spinach, and lettuce tolerate shadier conditions than other vegetables, but if your garden does not receive at least 6 hours of sunlight daily, you will not be successful growing vegetables."

I think a lot of experts are full of crap sometimes, and I think this example I just gave is classic.

Expert: You will NOT be successful growing vegetables unless you get 6 hours of sunlight daily.

Reality: You don't need 6 hours sunlight to be "successful" at growing vegetables. I get 3-4 hours in some parts of my yard and even full shade on my deck, yet many things grows fine. It may not be 100% as productive as a full-sun garden (more like 70% to 80%), but it's enough productivity for me and my family to have our fill and leftovers.

I'm sure there were a lot of "experts" out there who said for decades that figs can't be grown in ground in, for example, Chicago. Experts are wrong.

Here is a link that might be useful: 4 hours of sun... is that enough for a vegetable garden?


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RE: Better luck this year?

Jason,

I agree that it is good to challenge conventional wisdom and thinking. You might recall my recent challenge to another forum member. Notice, we still have not seen that WRITTEN fig rooting procedure? ....at least I have not seen it. Maybe I completely missed it.

Dan


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RE: Better luck this year?

Well, I don't necessarily mean to question just "conventional wisdom and thinking", but also documented process and absolute statements from experts, scientists, and other generally accepted "authorities" on subjects. Folks put a lot of faith in experts these days, but ironic enough, it seems to be the innovators that think outside the box and exhaust every angle of these processes who come up with the major breakthroughs that change the way we do things. Far too often, folks are willing to accept advice - good or bad - because they trust others know more than them. It's unfortunate, because we all have good brains between our ears, and we're all capable of experimenting to find what works and what doesn't, and come up with great ideas.

This is one reason I admire folks like Martin (Dieseler) carrying out little experiments here and there with things like aeroponics and gel cups. It's interesting, and it's how breakthroughs are made, even if some of the ideas are in use with other related fields or species.

I like to equate everything to cooking, probably because it's in my blood to cook! I've never been professionally trained in cooking (i.e. no culinary school). If there's a dish I don't know the recipe for, I'll go around, grab 5-10 versions of it from the experts, look at the ingredients and steps. I'll look to see which steps are constant amongst all of them. I will look at what's different, and try to determine the reason. I'll look at each constant step and try to decide why it's essential to the end product. I question repeatedly until I understand completely why they're all necessary.

In the end, what I usually find is, some expert chefs miss steps and ingredients that turn a good recipe into an amazing recipe, and there are usually a lot of steps you're told are absolutely required, but are unfounded, or totally unnecessary. Sadly, the power of being a proclaimed "expert" affords you the ability to make absolute statements and have people eat it up. The resulting effect on others could be equated to the placebo effect sometimes.

I just think it's just good to question everything, for those that really want to understand and learn.


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RE: Better luck this year?

Funny that you mention cooking. I love to cook too. In fact, I'm writing a cookbook with some emphasis towards the chemistry processes involved in cooking. If you understand the chemistry of cooking you can become a much better cook. I try to explain the reason WHY certain cooking techniques are so important for a successful dish. For example.....in my geographic area we have a Jambalaya Cook-off every year in Gonzales, La. to determine the world champion cook. The contestants are all given the same exact ingredients for the competition. It's amazing how different each of those pots of Jambalaya can look and taste given each cook started out with the same ingredients.......it's all about technique technique technique and understanding how to develop different flavors from the ingredients that are on hand. Flavor development and quality of final product is based on the science of chemistry.....understand it and you can manipulate those attributes to your advantage.

I have an entire chapter in my book devoted to the care and maintenance of cast iron. You will find some of my thoughts and postings on this subject in Garden Web's Cookware Forum.......see link below. I collect cast iron and literally have tons of the stuff. Cast iron needs to be seasoned properly for it to be used. There is a lot of BS out on the Internet on the correct procedure/method for seasoning of cast iron. I have developed a proprietary formula for a spray that will quickly cure cast iron.....may choose to market it one day. I still get many emails from people in appreciation or for clarification of the information contained in that cast iron thread.

If you read that lengthy thread below, you will see that I have no problem whatsoever in challenging leading authorities, experts, conventional wisdom, or scientist. True scientist keep an OPEN MIND and know how to apply it to everyday life situations.....including fig propagation methods.

Dan

Here is a link that might be useful: Seasoning Cast Iron


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RE: Better luck this year?

Thx for post

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