Because I am not as thorough and good at records as Steve in NJ, I failed to keep track of which variety was which when planting two trees. These were two of the three I had in 20+ gallon tubs. While family was here for Thanksgiving to help with lifting, we had a work time at the greenhouse. The Hardy Chicago and Violette de Bordeaux went outside finally. But with four of us and three children running around, we forgot which one was which.
After they were planted, I took cuttings, trimming them back to about 18 inches on all limbs. That gave me one large bucket, running over with branches from one and one bucket from the other. But which was which? I made a guess, made a mental label, round bucket was Bordeaux.
The next day after I had almost all limbs cut to lengths I realized that I was wrong. A lady praying mantis had deposited three egg masses this summer on the Violette de Bordeaux (that was something I did remember) and so that meant the square bucket held Bordeaux. That also meant that Bordeaux was planted closest to the greenhouse and Hardy Chicago the furthest North. Thanks to that lady mantis, I was able to discern for certain which variety was which. Sure am glad she only liked the Bordeaux. I remember watching her that eventful day. There should be quite a lot of praying mantis in the hoop next year! I saved her chosen twigs and will keep an eye on the progress. Hope the grandchildren get to see the hatching. Maybe it will happen when they are here for Spring break in March.
And, btw, those outside trees were surrounded with straw bales and the inside cavity filled with loose straw. The whole mound was then covered with plastic and cinched tight. Will see if that is sufficient for figs in our chilly climate, zone 5b outside.
Hoophouse has three climates: 1. heated to 50 degrees at night, sunheated to 90 degrees or more during day; 2. unheated but with residual heat from heated side, minimum temp. 30 degrees at night, daytime with sun, much warmer and 3. unheated with little residual, if any and near outside temp. at night but much warmer during the day. Lack of wind is a big bonus here and low temps are not quite as long lasting when daytime heating from sun occurs. Area 3 is a 28 ft. long section added onto the original hoop which is 36 ft. long. The divider wall between the two section was not taken down, thus retaining the original heated area of 1.
Area 1. has a few fig trees in pots for experimental reasons. This is a first year to trial them there.
In area 2. we only got one tree (the third one in the large tubs) planted because I can handle the smaller trees later by myself. Today might be a good day since we have a little sun, but it is probably still cooler than I want to be working out. Those pots are waiting in that area and have had no damage. That seems to be a good median area for figs. Despite such a wide diurnal range from as low as 30 degrees to as high as 90 degrees, the figs trees seem to fare quite well. Young trees don't tolerate the cold in early Spring after they have started to leaf out as well as the older trees.
In the 3rd area I have already seen damage to new fig trees planted there. Aked, Mary Lane and Blue Giant suffered the most damage when temps dropped into teens outside and inside. I didn't realize it was supposed to get so cold and didn't give any protection. From now on, those three will get additional protection (box or tub cover) at night. Eight other varieties seem to have come through okay. My objective is to discover which varieties can survive in each 'climate' we are providing.
Elizabeth in cold, snowy Missouri