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susieqz

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hiya, guys,
on may 1, i put my figs inground. they look happy n healthy. they are even producing figs.

but they aren't getting tall. when i see pics of other peoples  figs, i see leaves then 3-4 inches of stem, then more leaves, on n on.

mine are growing  fractions of an inch between each set of leaves. every variety is like this.

they are very bushy n healthy looking, but i'm just not seeing trunk growth.

they are planted in the sand n gravel that i laughingly call  soil which is probably sterile.

i've been feeding good fertilizer at recommended amounts, but something must be lacking, right?

 what do they need to grow normally?

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twovkay

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Susie,

The only thing I can see as missing is compost.  If you only have sand and gravel, it might be missing micro nutrients from loamy soil.  I top dress my pots every year with compost and given that you have a long growing season, I would do it twice a year.

BTW, I believe stem growth is directly related to the amount of sun available to a plant.  So if your trees are in direct sun, it might produce shorter stems, since it doesn't need to reach for the sun.  Please if I'm wrong with this hypothesis, correct me.  I have had the same plants grown in two different areas of my yard and the ones in the sun are smaller then the ones with some shade to them.  

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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #3 
thanks v. i found out that the town had free compost so i top dressed with two inches of compost, but i already had the trees inground.

i worked it into the top few inches of soil, not deep because it was hard to do without a tiller. i just covered that with four inches of mulch, but i can't get this stuff down to the roots.

back home  i was organic, but i had topsoil. it doesn't work where thereare no worms.  think i gotta rely on chemicals, but i don't know which.

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Ampersand

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Reply with quote  #4 
My guess would be lower nutrient availability due to sandiness of the soil; nutrients are generally bound up by clay and organic molecules in the soil. In sandy soil nutrients will just wash away since nothing can bind them to the soil matrix.

However, that may not be a bad thing. If the plants look healthy and are producing, don't fret. Long internodes could be a sign of excess fertilizer or shade.
susieqz

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Reply with quote  #5 
thanks kelby. i'm not exactly fretting but i need more growth to dress up my new garden.
i'm using figs as   landscaping items, to provide green in the desert.

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bo3antar

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Reply with quote  #6 
wind will stunt growth

Is it protected from wind ?

can you show picture


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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #7 
 hi, bo.this site won't let me post pics.

they get some wind but i built a 6' high wooden fence around the garden to allow me to grow figs in zone 6.

i have the micro climate thing nailed, but never expected this problem, mostly cause i never heard of it.

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bo3antar

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Hi Susie,

   No signs of problem in leaves as you describe above.

Positive : your tree is happy for the nutrients

my guess : %90 WINDY "how far trees from wooden fence"
                 %10 Sun is intensive

That my guess and waiting for experts clue




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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #9 
the sun at 4000' is harsh, but these trees didn't mind it last year when in pots. they got wind damage then, but all that  means is shredded leaves'

i may have not asked this question properly. is it N, or P or K that a tree needs for stem growth?

i mostly need this info for next year. these plants range from 18 months to three year old n each has 6 figs, after 3 months inground.

 i'm happy with this production, i just want them prettier next year.

by the way, the two figs i actually tasted were possibly the best figs in the world.

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Reply with quote  #10 
Susie,

Nitrogen helps plant foliage to grow strong. Phosphorous helps roots and flowers grow and develop. Potassium (Potash) is important for overall plant health.  So N for more leaf growth. Hope this helps.

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Reply with quote  #11 

Here's my guess: 
If it's getting lots of sunlight it's growing the way it's supposed to. Figs that grow real tall and slender are probably not getting enough sunlight, and they reach to try and find adequate light. If it's growing more shorter branches, and lots of foliage, I would think that's fine. In time you will see more upward growth.
Don't forget you just planted this fig in May. I wouldn't judge too much growth the first year it was planted. All plants are in shock for the first year they're in the ground. They need time for their roots to establish before they will flush out a normal rate of growth. 

In June of this year, I put a Celeste in the ground that I purchased from a local nursery. I bought it in a 7 gallon pot, so it's pretty large. so far this year, i have had very little growth. The plant has only put out new leaves and some very short stem growth. It tried pushing out around 30 figs which all stopped getting larger a couple of months ago. 

I'm not worried about any of this. All I'm looking for from this plant this year is for it to stay alive. I'm relying heavily on the leaves to tell me everything I need to know for this year. (is the plant getting enough water) Short of that. Not much else can be expected to happen. 

Next spring I expect the plant to fill in nicely and take off. Can't wait either. 


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bo3antar

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Reply with quote  #12 


they will be prettier and tastier as your trees aged

Your elevation have high UV radiation means tasty fruits, good luck



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Reply with quote  #13 

If the leaves look nice and green without abnormallities, then take what posts 11 and 12 say and go with it.


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Reply with quote  #14 
Susie,
Close internode spacing for a few cultivars is sometimes normal, but its usually an indication of a problem at the roots. Low soil fertility (Macro and or Micro nutrients), low or high moisture levels and or low soil aeration. The roots may not be growing out into the existing soil or may be root bound. These conditions will slow initial plant growth as will normal transplant shock. Since there are so many different factors, it may just be a matter of timing for your trees.

Planting in a raised bed above problem soils and or spreading out the roots of the newly planted tree will help the roots get established quicker, along with fertilization and watering schedules. For planting in ground, I've had good success with Espoma-Tone fertilizers along with compost and mulch to promote healthy soil with active healthy beneficial soil microbes. The compost and fertilizers are usually mixed in with the soil from the planting holes. 

A former forum member posted that fig trees grow in cycles "roots then leaves then roots", in my observations this has been somewhat true. Paying attention to healthy soil and root growth will result in healthy and fast vegetative growth. Upright Staking and training, maintaining apical dominance of main trunks in young trees will also help to increase growth.

 
Attached Files
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WillsC

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Reply with quote  #15 
My bet would be lack of nitrogen.  As mentioned already N tends to just pour through sandy soils but there is a lot you can do to prevent that.  Do you know what your soil PH is?  Even if you have all the micro elements and a perfect NPK for the plant if the PH is off growth will suffer.  Here me native soil is pure white sugar sand but on soil I have improved my bushes pinched and heavily multistemmed hit 4'-5' across and 4'-5' tall in just 5 months BUT I push them hard.  I don't care if they fruit or not the first year I just want growth.  Even on soil I have not improved I don't see the close internodal spacing.  The plant may grow slow but the stem size and the spacing appears normal. 
susieqz

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Reply with quote  #16 
thanks guys. looks like they may need more N.

wills this soil is highly  alkaline. i thot that was ok for figs? 

pete, in hindsight i should've prepped the soil better. thing is, stuff doesn't even rot when buried. i'm not sure compost will work in droughty areas.

i guess i should have buried compost under the plants, but i didn't think of it. i only ammended the sand with peat moss.

i don't wanna dig them up.

oh, i did top dress with epsoma tree tone but i don't think it works without healthy microbes n the soil.
 shug n bo. perhaps they will grow next year.
and thanks for the words of hope

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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #17 
alan, i always used lime for my potted figs, but i thot that was to  correct acidity.
i'm afraid to use it in alkaline soil. do i need to add it?

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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #18 
thanks alan. i'll go toss some lime around the trees. gotta figure out how to get lots of extra N.
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ascpete

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Reply with quote  #19 
Susie,
Gypsum is usually used to provide Calcium For alkaline soils without changing the pH. Limestone is usually used for acidic soils because of the added benefit of increasing the pH, http://puyallup.wsu.edu/~linda%20chalker-scott/Horticultural%20Myths_files/Myths/Gypsum.pdf
susieqz

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ah. gotcha, pete.

i bet gypsum is more suitable here.

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Reply with quote  #21 
You might want to top dress with worm castings, for beneficial microbes, and Azomite, for minerals and nutrients.
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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #22 
thanks, rafael. i'm at a loss dealing with sterile sand n gravel.

before now, all my experience has been with actual top soil.

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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #23 
thanks alan. i can get that at amazon, cheap. i'm ordering tonite.

i couldn't make up my mind what to use.

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pino

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Reply with quote  #24 
Susie
You have got some great advice from the experts on the forum.
My only suggestion is that since your trees look healthy and they are producing delicious figs for you then there is no rush. 
Enjoy what you have and take your soil challenges a little at a time.  You don't want to do something that accidently injures the trees or stops them from producing figs.
On the bright side if they are on the short side then you have less work to do to cover them for the winter in your zone 6 climate.LOL
 

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Pino's Figs / Pino's Photos; 2017 Brebas / 2017 Main crop

susieqz

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Reply with quote  #25 
that's true,  pino.i figure i'll bury them. and, i won't get drastic til spring.

um, does anyone know if bonemeal does the same as lime?

since i just ordered blood meal i got bone meal at the same time.

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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #26 
 thanks, alan.calcium sounds good. my plants seem to like spoiled milk. i pour it on anything when it's old n plants seem  to respond.
um, alan, i'm reading up on that gypsum stuff n  they keep talking about using it for clay soils. i have sand.

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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #27 
well, that's the problem. clearly the best thing i could do is bulldoze all this stuff out n replace it completely with   actual top soil.

then i could have worms n grow anything. but figs grow wild in all sorts of scuzzy deserts. my back is up n i'm determined to make what i have work.

there is certainly a way to do this. i may not find it, but there's a way.

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ascpete

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Reply with quote  #28 
Calcium in the form of Gypsum or Limestone is required in relatively small "volume" for in ground trees and plants.
Although a soil test is preferable, 2 to 4 cups per 50 square feet ( less than 2 to 4 teaspoons per Square Foot) should cause minimal change in soil structure or pH. I've posted the Mittlieder pre-plant mix recipe (80-4-1 ratio, Calcium-Magnesium-Boron) before, http://www.destinysurvival.com/simplegardening/fertilizer_details.pdf . I don't use the Mittlieder Method, but I've used the pre-plant mix successfully for over a decade without any adverse changes in soil structure or pH. The mix is made with either Gypsum or Limestone, I use Dolemite Limestone due to my location and pH requirements.

For sandy, rocky or compact clay soils, raised beds (up to 12") of organic mulch on top of the existing soil will create a fertile active microbial oasis for plants and trees and will form aerated and enriched planting beds in the existing soil, over time the plant roots will then venture down in search of nutrients and water. WillsC and many gardeners in sandy areas with nematodes practice this method. Balanced nutrients, Macro and Micro, along with increased organic material will provide for a healthy environment for growing strong roots.

<Edit> As in nature, simply layering the organic material on top of the soil in the tree's drip line will get nutrients etc. to where they are needed.
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Reply with quote  #29 
Susie,
Denser growing leaves is a very good sign, that means the plant is getting good among of sun. Figs love son. Maybe add some plant matter into the soil, that's about it.
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Reply with quote  #30 
Hi susieqz,
Lots of infos, but we still don't have a pic of a tree at beginning of the season and now - to judge if really they are slow to grow.
You might have slow growers. So if you don't have a BrownTurkey, I would plant one and that tree will be your gauge to judge if the trees are growing slowly or not.

I have a "Longue d'aout" that is after 4 years of growth at 60 centimeters of total height !!! All my other cultivars (if not dead) are somehow reaching 200 centimeters of height .
My "Longue d'aout" is a slooooooooo...ooo...ooow grower .

As a general reminder, to grow, a tree needs heat, she needs water - in the Mediterranean belt figtrees often grow near a source of water-, she needs sunlight and she
needs fertilizer - IMO figtrees need a good quantity of fertilizer.
What is your program/situation on all those 4 points.
I water my trees once or twice a week with 20 liters of water.
They get a closed hand full of fertilizer 10/10/10 once or twice a month.
My Zone7 takes care of the heat and sun - although I have to trim back surrounding trees and bushes like roses and peach-trees .
A tree needs protection - here I'm at war against rodents, slugs and insects - against black suited ninjas a bit :) .

And last info: A tree, especially figtrees, gather and store energy and release it later - possibly next year. So don't give up and continue to feed as the results of your cares will
probably show up next year - if you stop, you might see nothing happening ...

As for your sand problem, ever read of my "80 liters trashcan with bottom removed technique" ?
The idea is that you don't need to replace the soil on all your property, but just around the fig tree. You could use the "200 liters container technique" :) . It is up to you.

Why did I come out with such a solution? : Here in my clay dirt, the dirt become like concrete sometimes, it is said that figtree's roots will suffocate and rot making figtrees unhappy in the long run .
This point plus the rodents got me digging holes to bury the trashcans with bottom removed. And yes, I used a chisel and a crowbar as passed 30 centimeters the shovel was of no help !

My craziest grower so far has put out 150 centimeters on a stem while showing 5 figs at the same time - it is a bush of some 3 to 5 stems. The suspense - drums please - is now to know if those figs will be able to ripe or not.
The strain: Unknown . I acquired that tree as a potted two stems tree of 20 centimeters of total height. I think she likes her boss !

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Reply with quote  #31 
Good thread!
As one can see, different areas all have different earth/dirt/soils when combined with local weather/climate makes it a real puzzle.  There is great value in having the local dirt/soil/sand tested.  Your local County Agent may already know some answers or may be able to point you to other resources.  School of Mines in Socorro may have info.  Good way to test remedies is to put 3 small trees in your dirt/soil/sand in separate pots in your micro climes and experiment with each one. I would suggest you start with dirt/soil/sand that is "virgin" (not supplemented).

Of course the best option is to dig them all up and move to Texas, people in New Mexico say the easiest way to find it is to head east until you smell it, then south until you step in it, LOL

Good challenge.

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Reply with quote  #32 
This is LSU Tiger at one month.  As with all my new trees, they all have had very compact growth on the first few sets of leaves but now this Tiger is showing some spacing between the leaves and is leaving all the rest looking slow lol.  Maybe yours will start to spread out or elongate the node spacing with a bit more time?  

Figs_76.jpg 


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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #33 
 thanks pete, i didn't know i could add lime without making th soil even more alkaline.

alan, if i see nematodes my plan is to lie down n die
aaron, thanks, i hope you are right, this is the harshest sun i've experienced.

jds, these trees get very high heat, very intense sun [4100' elevation] all day. they get 3 gallons of water once each week. i see no wilting ever,except on one that has fmv that i haven't discarded yet.  not sure how much fertilizer they get as i've been using water soluable, but i just started adding that at  every watering.
the trashcan idea is great but too hard for me n i can't find a laborer.

danny, my county agent said '' you can't grow figs there''.  no help there.

charlie, my trees range from just started cutting to 3 years old. all the same kind of growth. i'm hoping that time in ground will help.

please don't think i'm whining, guys. if this site would let me post pics you'd see healthy trees. you just can't call them vigorous.

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dkirtexas

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Reply with quote  #34 
Listen to your agent, move to Texas!!

As evidenced by the agent's input, there are a lot of people who know very little about figs.  I don't know how much you want to experiment but I still think controlled study of multiple trees with multiple treatments will pay off in the long run.

The good news is that you have proved the agent wrong and you do have figs growing there.

Hang in there, if it were easy you probably wouldn't be messing with it, you would probably get bored and grow peaches, live a long and happy life, and think of figs fondly, albeit with a twinge of genuine hatred for the evil spoils of the devil, commonly called Ficus Carica.

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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #35 
giggle, you are cute, danny. i can't move to texas. half of new york state already did, driving up land prices,
us poor folk gotta live  in new mexico.

i am experimenting. this micro climate thing better work in winter. it does work in summer. last year sandstorms shredded fig leaves. the fence stopped that.

there may not be any more sandstorms. for the last 2 months we got normal rain. sandstorms only happen when the weeds can't hold the soil down.

everything is green. if the rain keeps up, weeds will live n no more sandstorms.

still we get north winds up to 50mph in winter, with temps around zero.

i'm gonna bury my figs.

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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #36 
yup. i'm saving dolomite for potted figs. i did feed bone meal in case there's not enow calcium. threw in blood meal just for fun.  as advised, since the trees are happy, i'll stop worrying about short internodal growth til next year.  there's a possibility that very intense sun at 4100' stops the plant from reaching up.

when you feel this sun in summer, it feels like death. it's not like normal sun. 

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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #37 
i put these trees inground back in april, alan.  outside of vertical growth they have adjusted. there may be some  deficiency in this worthless soil, but no one knows what it is. people keep posting pics of figs growing on walls n roofs, so it's hard to think they need much of anything.

i'm thinking that sand n gravel should be the native habitat for figs.

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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #38 
that's interesting n makes sense too, alan. what PH would soil like that have? my red sand is obviously rich in iron, like mars, n very alkaline.  no  visible organic matter that i haven't added..
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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #39 
cool stuff, alan. i'll search malta's rainfall. i've tried many times to find out how much water figs actually need. that info is available for common fruit trees but not for figs

oooh, malta only gets 24'' of rain per year. that means established fig trees should grow without irrigation in non drought years.

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Grasa

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Reply with quote  #40 
Susie, I was thinking if the sun is too hot on them.  I am from Brazil, a region named Cerrado, if you look at the vegetation, all trees there grow in such manner you describe, in doing so, they 'save the water' and adapt.   http://meioambiente.culturamix.com/recursos-naturais/arvores
As I was working the cuttings of this Adriatic I am sending out, I see some nodes are super close (as you describe) and others are almost 6 inches apart. I suspect the closer ones had more exposure to sunlight.


Perhaps there is a way for you to give them a semi protection from the direct sun light.  I saw a permaculture video in one of those arid countries, where they plant palm trees and figs under them. Perhaps that is what you could do... some filtered palm leaves. and lots of mulching.


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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #41 
thank you very much, grasa. if this is normal behavior to very strong sun, i won't interfere.

i worried that the plants were missing something,  so i was upset. but, if they do this to better survive here, i'm happy and can accept slower growth.

i feel better now

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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #42 
alan, have you ever seen a listing  of fig water needs?

i find peach water needs at every year of growth. i see  minimums for jujubes to live, n to fruit.
i can find these things out about every fruit tree around, but not for figs.

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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #43 
thanks for the site. it's possible i'm causing the short internodal growth by watering only once each week. i moved that to  twice, but saw no change.

thing is, i'm trying to force the roots to grow down so they can get to native water. they show no signs of  stress. i'm using 4'' of wood  chip mulch so the ground stays moist. i'm trying to force hardiness here in zone 6.

i'll know in spring if it worked.

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Grasa

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Reply with quote  #44 

Mulching is the only way to 'shade the roots'. Fig trees send lots of tiny roots up to the surface and if the sun is too hot, it may 'cook' them if there is too much water.  I see this with my large tree. I raised the area around it, by about a foot with rocks and added more soil and a few inches of wood chips.  I put some pots with young trees and kiwis under the tree on top of the mulching.. in just a few weeks, when removing the pots, I see the white thin roots of the fig tree reaching out for the moisture of the pots. 


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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #45 
alan, i'm using pots only til the plants are big enow to go inground.  pots were getting too heavy for me to move so i'm concentrating on inground trees to get bigger harvests. i water potted figs daily because  they dry out fast.

grassa, do you think figs arereally shallow rooted? can i not force them to go down?

i put 6 trees inground before i found out about pete's method of planting very deep in the first place. future trees will go 3' under the soil line.

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jdsfrance

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Reply with quote  #46 
Hi susieqz,
I have an experiment on trees growing in restricted areas - that is in buried 80 liters trashcans filled with mainly compost and bottom-less.
The mother tree is in open ground in clay.
All the daughters with root restriction expose short inter-nodal distance .

As for shallow roots - it depends on your dirt . I have clay and at some point the roots of the fig-trees will suffocate, be kept too humid and dry, leaving the tree with shallow roots only supposedly because those breath easily near the surface.
So the trees are forced to go shallow roots.

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susieqz

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Reply with quote  #47 
jds, i bet that is a large part of this plant behavior, coupled with grassa's observation of brazilian plants. i   have the hottest sun i've ever seen, plus there is a rock shelf under  20'' of sand. i'd hoped the roots would find a way thru this but they may not be  able to penetrate it.

i guess i'll end up with dwarf trees, but  since my goal is 12 figs inground, i should have plenty of fruit.

now that i know that my trees are acting normally for the conditions they must face i can stop worrying, except for constant animal attacks.
you know, when i built a 6' high fence around  my garden, i was silly enow to think i'd have no animal problems. it turns out.  fencing out deer n cattle is easy. fencing out bunnies n rats who love fig leaves is hard.

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susie,
burner of trees
 
 
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