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GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #1 
Now that the cool weather has arrived, I have started construction of the fig hedge.  This hedge is replacing a row of Leyland Cypress:

Step 1: Planted mini test-hedge last Spring.  Worked great; looked great (attached photo is from today; losing leaves; but looked great all summer).

Step 2: Cleared out trees.  Obviously the hardest part.  Took out 8 Leyland Cypress and one oak to make a 200 foot open run for the fig hedge.

Step 3: Prepare ground.  The stumps are being treated with mushroom spore plugs (cypress and oak require different species of mushrooms).  I've done this before and the fungus will turn the stumps to compost in just a couple years, and meanwhile, you get lots of tasty mushrooms.  For now though, I am going to have to work around the stumps rotatilling and planting, but when I add the peat moss/bagged garden soil on top you won't see them.

Step 4: In the Spring, plant figs (overwintering in the garden now) spacing about 5 feet apart (more or less depending on known growth habit of each type).  That's close, but this is meant to be a hedge and will be kept pruned each year to maximize productivity and keep a good shape.

Step 5: Maintenance and picking: Mulched very heavy to prevent weeds; watered with a soaker hose left down the length (just plug in and water); easy picking and mowing by going up and down each side.

John
North Georgia Piedmont
Zone 7b

Attached Images
jpeg Fig_Hedge_2010_2.jpg (949.63 KB, 134 views)
jpeg Fig_Hedge_2010_1.jpg (688.46 KB, 115 views)
jpeg Fig_Hedge_2010_3.jpg (941.47 KB, 98 views)

JD

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Reply with quote  #2 
John,

Thanks for a peek into the project. Looks like a very nice location. Fenced (deer protection) and full sun (which direction does the sun set)? Once the work is done this fall, the spring will be exciting. About 40 trees. How many different cultivars will you plant?

JD


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GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #3 
Hi JD!  The deer fence goes around the adjacent vegetable garden, but we have never had any troubles with the deer bothering the figs.  They will eat almost anything (including tomato vines which I thought were poisonious) but there are two fruits they have never bothered (thankfully): Figs or blueberries, and we have lots of both.

The hedge runs North to South.  It will get full sun on the Northern two thirds of the hedge, but the bottom third will be shaded by the neighbors Leyland Cypresses in the afternoon (not much I can do short of cutting down his trees!).  ;-)

The birds don't bother the white figs much, so all the white figs will go on one end with the dark figs netted together on the other end.

I have just over 40 different varieties now waiting to be planted, so pretty much one of each.  I've got room for another North-South hedge on the other side too, but one hedge at a time!  ;-)

Hope you are well my friend.

Best wishes.

John
snaglpus

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Reply with quote  #4 
Hey John, are you sure 5 feet between the figs will be enough?  I am doing exactly what you're doing.  I've been marking and preping my hill.  I would like to space mine 5 feet but I think that might be too close.  I am leaning towards 7 feet.  I think Jose spaced his figs 7 feet too.  I don't have much space but would like to know what others think. 

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Dennis
Charlotte, North Carolina/Zone 8a 

GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #5 
Hi Dennis.  I remember reading in an earlier post that you were spacing 7 feet, and honestly, I'm still thinking about it.

My thinking right now on the spacing though is that it's going to be somewhat variable, as I know that some varieties will tend to be more upright, and others more spreading.  The "Unknown Yellow" variety (figs on the left in the test mini-hedge) I am growing can grow very successfully in a smaller area, our HC is very upright in habit, and I am looking for a privacy hedge pretty quickly, so I am really thinking 5 (smaller and more upright) to up to 7 for known larger varieties.  I'm also going to have to work around the stumps.

The good news though is that this isn't sky diving: If it doesn't work, you get to try again and fix things as you go and as you see how the plants are growing.

I expect that it will be somewhat fluid in that some will die and have to be replaced (or just let the neighboring figs fill in, some of the varities tend to sucker a lot and spread (these runner plants can be taken out for new trees also).

But I'm sure that 7 feet is a very good spacing in general, and for ones that I know like to spread (like the LSU Purple), I will give them more space.

But I don't really want a just row of bushes, we want more of a hedge effect.  The Leyland Cypresses were there for a reason, and we want a little privacy hedge, at least in the summer months.

Keep us posted on your progress Dennis.

Best wishes.

John
North Georgia Piedmont
Zone 7b
rafed

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Reply with quote  #6 
John,

What a brilliant idea! I love it!
Hope you keep us posted through out the project.

As for the stump. Can't you just go out and rent a stump remover?
I heard if you drill some holes and fill with Kerosene and let soak for a few day and burning it works as well.

I had a 50' or 60' Birch in the corner of my house that I took down a few years ago but didn't want to try the bringing method because it was only 3' away from the wall.

Either way, I know what a pain those stumps can be.

Good luck
GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #7 
Thank you Rafed, and I will be very happy to share pictures from the project as it progresses.

I could rent a stump remover.  But honestly, I am really, really, let's say frugile!  ;-)

The mushroom thing really works.  The spore plugs (tiny dowel rods inoculated with various species of mushroom spores) are inexpensive, and more than pay for themselves just with the mushrooms you get.  I have done this with several stumps now.

An ideal solution is one that takes the problem and turns it into a benefit.

Stumps make a great food source for mushrooms, the stump is rapidly turned to compost, and you get to eat a lot of really great fresh mushrooms.

Hope all is well with you my friend.

Best wishes.

John

JD

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Reply with quote  #8 
Hey John,

Life is good with me and it sounds like it is very well with you. Thanks for sharing this information. I would like to learn more. What is your source for the mushroom spores? And do you have a preferred reference for someone wanting to get on the learning curve?

JD


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TucsonKen

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Reply with quote  #9 

John--Thanks so much for the photos and detailed description. What spacing did you use in the mini-hedge? In the photo, they look like they're just a few inches apart. At any rate, the hedge idea sounds like a great way to get the most out of your space!


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Ken
Tucson, Arizona
Zone 8b
GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #10 
Hi JD.  We get our mushroom spores from Fungi Perfecti http://www.fungi.com

And Eliot Coleman is a great resource for low-tech, high productivity gardening http://www.fourseasonfarm.com/

I would also recommend Jon Jeavons and Bountiful Gardens http://www.bountifulgardens.org as great source of low cost/high quality seeds and information about organic gardening.

These guys are doing amazing research that can be used by backyard gardeners right now to lower costs and improve results by working with rather than against nature.

Take care good friend.

John
GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #11 
Hi Ken.  On the spacing, Dennis in North Carolina is using a standard 7 feet.

I'm thinking about a more variable approach (5 - 7), but generally closer for a quicker hedge effect, but still no closer than 5 feet.

The plants in the test hedge are mostly the "Yellow Unknown" I have.  I planted them very close, pretty much side-by-side, just to see: 1) What the fig hedge effect would look like (very good when leafed out), and 2) How well the figs would shade the ground underneath and how much weeding would be needed (they shaded well and almost no weeding was needed).

When the figs grow together into a hedge and were well mulched, almost no weeding was needed underneath.  The figs are shading out and crowding out the weeds pretty well.  In contrast, the figs planted alone in the orchard had much more trouble with invasive grass that had to be pulled from around their base.

I also used the area underneath the larger figs to root cuttings and that worked very well.

But I never intended to leave the trees in the test area this closely planted.  I will leave one of them, but most of these are coming out and being relocated to other local growers in the Spring.

Best wishes.

John
snaglpus

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Reply with quote  #12 
John I agree.  LSU Purple does like to spread.  I was using mine as a guide.  My tree almost gave me the most figs this year.  Second was my Gino fig and third was my Hardy Chicago.  These 2 trees did not spread out but did grow.  So, I may cheat and space my trees 6 feet apart and choose another location for my LSU figs.  I like your hedge better than mine though.  cheers,

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Dennis
Charlotte, North Carolina/Zone 8a 

GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #13 
Hi Dennis.  I must admit I have thought, and continue to think a lot about what is the best spacing for these.

As they say: Failure to plan is a plan for failure.

But at some point after thinking it through as best you can, and considering all the variables you know about, you jump in and give it your best shot.

Success is great, but you learn no matter what the outcome.

And as I said earlier: Fortunately gardening is not parachuting.  If something goes wrong, you can just try again!  ;-)

Take care good friend, and let us know how it's going.

Best wishes.

John

Herman2

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Reply with quote  #14 

Any Fig that do not show any havy fig mosaic on the leaves will grow large so leave 7 foot each side and any fig that show a lot of mosaic virus will not grow large but will grow dwarf,with much little productivity and size so leave only 5 foot toward the next plant with virus,and seven foot toward the healthy plant like HaRDY cHICAGO.

GeorgiaFig

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Reply with quote  #15 
Hi Herman.  Thank you.  That is very useful advice.  I was considering what I knew about the stated or observed natural growth habits of the various varities of figs, but had not considered this very important factor: That FMV would tend to dwarf any plant showing signs of infection.  And THAT is why you are a Master Gardener!  This will be very helpful in trying to set a good spacing for the hedge.

Our Hardy Chicago must have an unusual growth habit.  It is very upright in growth, not spreading, and smaller than other figs the same age without pruning.  There is no sign of FMV though, and it is otherwise a very healthy tree.  It has a wonderful taste and is very productive.  But maybe it is not a true HC.  I think I got it about 8 or 9 years ago from either Raintree or One Green World (can't remember for sure unfortunately).  Maybe it is a mislabeled variety very similar to HC but not a true HC.

We do have some very healthy growing HCs started from cuttings from yours though, and I will be sure and give these 7 feet as they are surely true HCs and will require this additional space.

I have learned a lot from you Herman, and I am still learning a lot.  Turns out, there is a lot to learn!

Thanks.

John

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Reply with quote  #16 
Many types with heavy FMV will grow big but lag a few seasons behind a normal growing one in containers then grow well and keep growing well like Mission, VdB, Panache , Santa Cruz Dark, Kalamata Black, Pastiliere, Macool , Grise ,  to name a few i have experienced.

They may do the same inground but cannot prove that Yet but in time i will know this.
There are exception like ischia black i have which is plain stubborn and an exception with FMV more than any fig plant i know of.
 I have several from same source UCDAVIS that looked just as bad if not worse than that Ischia and this season did better than i intially thought.
Yes ischia black is exception that i will not give up on and keep experimenting with different idea's.

Some fig plants will grow slower than others such as my Negretta which has what some folks say " dwarfness"  but mind you it will keep growing long as there is no frost damage and each year will get bigger and bigger just only at slower pace. Its my opinion there is no fig that will ALWAYS stay in dwarf size they just grow slower but little bigger each season.


Herman2

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Reply with quote  #17 
Yes Martin ,they will keep growing if they are in pot ,even with fig mosaic virus,they,will get large like you say.
But the gentelman is going to have them in ground exposed to the Elements.
Soooo:Fig infested with havy fig mosaic virus,have no extra energy to resist winter on the east coast so they die close to ground every year.
I have Beall,Adriatic,Ischia Black,Col de Dame wht,that after 7 years inground despite protection,are still 1 foot tall or less.
So John have to plant outside taking this in consideration.
Dieseler

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Reply with quote  #18 
Herman the thought did cross my mind but most likely a hassle.
To grow row in containers and let roots grow into ground then each season store and prune them nice.
But just so much work, i know for me that can not happen ,
aw to bad im not younger anymore  !
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