Chicago hardy fig
Our Chicago Hardy Fig arrived
on the same day as our Carpathian walnuts even though it was coming
from a different nursery --- clearly, this must be prime fall-planting
time in zone 6. Like rosemary, planting figs outdoors is a
dicey proposition in our region, but I'm hopeful that careful variety
selection and winter protection will let us harvest our own fruits in a
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If various fig-growers
on the internet are to be believed, the hardiest fig varieties are
Chicago Hardy, Mission, Brown Turkey, Alma, Nordland, and
Celeste. Chicago Hardy won my admiration since it's reputed to be
able to produce fruit on new wood even if the top dies back to the
ground, which means that as long as the roots don't die, we will get
some sort of crop from our fig every year. In contrast, if you're
growing another variety of fig, you will have to wait until the next
year (and risk being winter-killed again) before tasting fruits from
your fig after a cold winter.
Despite the promise of cold
hardiness, I went ahead and protected my fig, staking a loop of trellis
fencing around it and then filling the loop up with leaves. In
coldier climates (zone 5), fig growers go to more extremes, sometimes
carefully bending the plant over and burying it in a trench of
soil. Other growers simply convert their fig to a potted plant
and bring it in for the winter.
As a final note, growers
of Chicago Hardy do have one warning I plan to take to heart.
This particular variety of fig fruits much less if unpruned, so be sure
to cut stems back to 30 inches every year and clear out all but three
main branches. If all goes as planned, we could be tasting our
first homegrown fig as early as 2012.