How to Grow Figs in a Cold Climate


We ought to all be so fortunate (or good?) as to have a easy greenhouse just like the one Mr. Reich has on his 2.25-acre property in New Paltz, N.Y., a 20-by-20-foot, poly-covered construction that he retains minimally heated so the temperature doesn’t drop under 37 levels.

Four of his figs are planted in the greenhouse’s filth ground, educated as espaliers. It’s not simply a figgery in there, nonetheless. The greenhouse can be house to a range of edibles, together with mache, lettuce, kale and even celery in winter, together with spring’s flower seedlings and summer time cucumbers.

But the no-frills means to develop a fig — in locations the place the winters are chilly — is in a pot. That’s supplied you will have the correct spot to stash it when the freezes arrive, as Mr. Reich does in his barely heated basement, the place he has 15 potted bushes.

Mr. Reich has lengthy grown not simply figs, but in addition the likes of medlar and pawpaw, among the many crops featured in “Uncommon Fruits Worthy of Attention,” his forward-thinking 1991 e book that influenced gardeners to think about a wider palette. Even with extra widespread selections like blueberries, Mr. Reich pushes the restrict, harvesting 190 quarts a yr, for instance, from highbush crops grown inside “our bird-proof blueberry temple,” an out of doors construction clothed on the edges in one-inch mesh and lined with netting at ripening time up prime, too.

Among tree fruits, figs are distinctive. Most generally grown temperate-zone prospects, like apples and pears, produce their fruit on older wooden, the earlier yr’s and earlier. Some fig varieties can try this as nicely, delivering what is known as a breba crop early, on final yr’s stems. But these finest suited to rising in colder climates, together with acquainted varieties like Brown Turkey and Chicago Hardy, produce their fundamental crop — typically their solely crop — on new shoots.

Keeping the fig tree scaled down to container-grown proportions by pruning doesn’t remove the opportunity of harvest. To the opposite, success with figs in colder zones, Mr. Reich confused, requires some mixture of two practices: correct pruning and sufficient safety.