Archive for November, 2009

Fig Tree Protection Update

The discussion about protecting the fig was resolved in favor of the trench method, so I went back and put in a few more details about how we actually did it. Just a few – right now the story is a report , not a recommendation.

The bundled fig in its leaf-lined trench

The bundled fig in its leaf-lined trench

The trunk is of course a bit springy and must be held down until the leaf pile is big enough to act as a weight. The holder here is Bill’s ever-handy Italian rototiller, still on site after being used to dig the trench.

A Tale of Two Lettuces

One lettuce, actually, the delicious heirloom butterhead  ‘Merveille des Quatre Saisons’.

lettuce 'Merveille de Quatre Saisons," popular since the 1880's

lettuce 'Merveille des Quatre Saisons," popular since the 1880's

Where winter temperatures drop into the teens and below, it’s only merveille in 3 saisons, but that’s still pretty good. It’s one of the first to head up after a spring planting. It stays nicely flavorful in summer, even after it starts to bolt, and it’s really stellar in fall: tender, juicy, sweet, beautiful – and disinclined to rot, even when the autumn is unusually rainy.

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Passionflower, Fuchsia, Lemon Verbena and More – Tender Plants are now in for Winter. Except the Fig

It’s a ‘Chicago Hardy’, reputedly among the toughest, this year’s shot at zone denial. The goal is to have it live outdoors all winter, without dying down to the roots.

But our part of the Hudson Valley is still zone 5b, though teetering on the edge of 6, and figs are not hardy north of zone 7.  So what makes me think we can pull this off?  Pure hubris? My usual oversupply of sunny optimism ? Too much research into fig protection during the Times Q&A days?

Some of each, I have no doubt. But the main reason to give it a try is this house’s uniquely suitable spot, a double protected corner facing southwest.

The fig in late September, slightly taller than 6 feet. It arrived in May as a single 30 inch stick with a tiny shoot at the bottom.

The fig in late September, slightly taller than 5 feet, planted as close as possible to a very cosy corner.

If you count the fact that the house ( circa 1870) is not exactly a model of tightness, the protection is triple. But double is the important part; the corner has extra backup because the house sides don’t meet.

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