Figs are quite a frequent guest in gardens of southern Russia, but in its central part it is a real exotic. Many growers are convinced that it simply will not survive out there. But if you choose frost-resistant varieties, properly plant seedlings and provide them with reliable winter shelter, delicious berries can also be harvested in the middle belt.
A bit of biology
Figs, also called fig or fig tree, are a subtropical plant. It belongs to the genus Ficus and belongs to the mulberry family. It is one of the oldest plants introduced by man into culture. Figs have a rich chemical composition. Not only can they be eaten fresh, but they can also be dried or made into jam. Dried figs are perfectly preserved for a long time and have a high caloric value, giving fast satiety.
it is a tree or bush, reaching a height of 10 m, with proper pruning much lower;
The crown is wide and low, thick branches are covered with smooth bark of light gray color;
large ordinary leaves of 3-7 lobes are extensions of thick long petioles;
The front part of the leaf plate is dark green, the reverse – grayish-green;
The leaves are noticeably pubescent;
Pear-shaped inflorescences are located in the axils of the leaves;
They are hollow inside, where the unsightly flowers develop, and have holes where the blastophagous wasps that pollinate the figs fly in;
in place of the female flowers-figs form juicy pear-shaped fruits, reaching a length of 8 cm, their radius of 5 cm;
Weight of the fruit varies from 30 to 70 g, with some varieties even more.
Breeders have created parthenocarpic varieties of figs that do not need insect pollinators. In domestic culture, the tree can live up to 60 years. It blooms during almost the entire growing season, but figs – female flowers appear only 2 times a season: in summer and fall.This is why many varieties give two harvests a year:
The first, which is called breba, is on the overwintering shoots of the previous year;
The second – on summer shoots, these fruits are tastier, but do not always have time to ripen.
From a mature tree can be harvested up to 140 kg of fruit, depending on growing conditions and varietal affiliation.
Over the many years of fig growing, about 1000 varieties of this crop have been created. But not all of them are able to withstand the harsh conditions of the middle zone.
There are many varieties of figs with excellent taste and high yield for the southern zone. Most of them can’t bear frosts below -10 degrees. Often even when covered, their shoots freeze. If the root system is strong, it gives new shoots, from which it is harvested in the same season, but not as big.
In the middle belt to grow these varieties will not work – they die out in the first harsh winter, despite the shelter. But thanks to breeders there are plants adapted to the harsh climate. Some of them can survive frosts under cover up to -29 degrees. With proper planting and good insulation for the winter, they have every chance of surviving it. Frost resistance of any plant depends not only on its variety, but also on the microclimate on the site, the soil composition and growing conditions. So you need to choose a variety “by yourself”. In one area it will overwinter perfectly, in another it may not withstand even not too much frost. The reviews of practicing gardeners on the forums will help.Based on these, the following varieties have the greatest frost resistance, usually up to -20 degrees:
“Adriatic” – a productive self-fruitful variety, has two waves of fruiting: in June and in late summer, the fruits are sweet 70 g in weight;
“Abkhazian purple” – a self-fertile variety, an abundant harvest ripe in late summer, pear-shaped fruits weigh 50 g, red flesh is very sweet;
“Brogiotto Nero” – a self-fruit variety from Italy with a dessert taste of fruits weighing 70 g, they are pear-shaped maroon in color, harvesting in late September;
“Brogiotto Bianco” – Italian variety, self-fertile with fruits of white color, they are excellent for drying, gives a single harvest of honey figs, starting in mid-August;
“Brunswick” – a variety from the U.S., self-fruitful, the first harvest in July, the second – at the end of August, the yield;
“Dalmatsky” or “White Turkish” – a high-yielding self-fruit variety, 180 g fruits ripen in July and 90 g in September, the flesh is dark crimson, the color of the fruits is grayish-green with white spots, melting very tasty, can be grown in potted culture;
“Crimean Black” or “Moisson” – a variety from France, self-fertile and early maturing, the first small harvest – in July, the second begin to collect from September;
“Celeste” – the second name of the variety – “Sugar”, partially self-fruitful, gives two harvests, winters well – the roots can tolerate a drop in temperature to minus 30 °;
“Cadotte” – a self-fruit variety from the USA with pear-shaped fruits weighing 60 g, the second harvest does not always have time to ripen.
With proper planting, all of these varieties are able to overwinter not only in the south, but also in the north.
Noteworthy is the experience of Belarusian gardeners. Experienced from the city of Rogachev I. g. Savchenko grows figs on regular beds. For the winter, seedlings bend to the ground, fill with lapnik and cover with tol. The variety “Honey Brush” has passed the test of frost – 32 °. Andrey Sinkevich grows the variety “Cadotte”, plants it in pits, covers it for the winter. According to his feedback, the variety is hardy up to – 29 degrees.
The variety for growing in the middle belt should not only be frost-resistant, but also self-fruiting. If the variety is late, it has time to form a second crop, but the fruit will not have enough time to mature. Therefore, in the central region, only early varieties are chosen for planting.
It is optimal to plant trees in a greenhouse. Even if it is not heated, it will have a longer growing season and less danger of frost. The tree lends itself well to shaping, so it can be given any compact shape – it will not take much space with proper pruning.
Incorrectly planted plants will not only develop badly, they may not survive the first winter. Plant figs always in the spring, so that they can root well over the summer. Only in the southern regions can they be planted in autumn.
Choosing a place
This crop is very fond of sun and heat. If in the south it is enough, in the middle belt it is necessary to choose the lightest and warmest area – for successful ripening of a crop the indicator CAT – annual sum of active temperatures should be 4000 degrees and more. To create the right microclimate from the west, north and east, the planting site should be protected from cold winds. A good option – planting near the south side of the house, but not closer than 3 m from it. The ground water should not be closer than 3 meters from the surface.
At home, figs grow on any soil, even very poor and stony ones, where other plants cannot survive. In the midlands it has a much shorter growing season. In order for the plant to have time to grow shoots and give a harvest, it needs enough nutrition. When trench or hole planting, the composition of the soil depends on the gardener – you can prepare any substrate, as long as the soil had a neutral or slightly alkaline reaction and contained large amounts of organic matter.
How to plant
When choosing the method of planting, preference should be given to one that can protect not only the shoots, but also, most importantly, the roots, from frost as much as possible. If they are preserved, the frosted above-ground part quickly recovers. the level of soil freezing in the middle belt varies at 1 meter – a little more or a little less, depending on the magnitude of the minus temperatures in winter. Therefore, for several plants choose a trench planting, and for one – dig a hole.
the depth in both cases is 1.5 m;
With a double row planting distance of at least 5 m between the trenches;
the trench is located from west to east – in this case the plant will receive more sunlight;
The width of the trench or the diameter of the hole – 1-0,8 m;
The southern slope is made gentle, the northern side – vertical;
When preparing the planting place, the top layer of soil on the bayonet of a spade should be set aside – on its basis, the substrate will be prepared for filling in the plant roots;
On heavy soils at the bottom of the pit laid drainage of broken bricks, pebbles or sand with gravel;
prepare a substrate of garden soil, which was set aside – 2 parts, the same amount of humus or well matured compost and 1 part of the sand, supporters of mineral fertilizers can add 200 g of superphosphate and 100 g of potassium sulfate;
The substrate is well mixed, pour into the hole so that its depth is 1 meter;
A small mound of regular vegetable garden soil is poured on top;
set a peg for tying, if the seedling is one, for several plants it is better to build a trellis as for grapes;
The sapling is placed in a hole with a slope to the south at an angle of 45°;
Cover with prepared soil;
The root neck is buried by 4-6 cm;
Even in the south, figs need sheltering, especially in the year of planting, but trenches or pits there can be dug not as deep.
How to increase SAT
The sum of active temperatures is calculated as follows:
choose all days in which the average daily temperature is not below plus 10 degrees;
Summarizes the average temperature for the day on these days.
In different regions of central Russia this value varies from 2100 to 2800 degrees. This is not enough for a complete existence and harvest of figs. The same problem arises in the cultivation of southern varieties of grapes.Winegrowers long ago learned to cope with it, using the following methods:
Planting on a southern slope gives a 10% increase in CAT;
Soil with a high sand content – 5%;
A wall of metal profile, set on the north side (oriented by the compass) – 15%.
Helps to increase the index temporary arch shelter from polycarbonate, it is used in early spring and with the onset of autumn.
Care of figs
This plant is very plastic and easily adapts to different growing conditions. It feels most comfortable if all the rules of agrotechnics are followed.
Figs like moderately moist soils and tolerate heat well. But to obtain a high yield, it needs regular watering. Optimal soil humidity during the growing season is 50-60%.
The very first watering in the season – moisture-charge, in early spring after the removal of the cover. Because the plant does not get any snowmelt water, it needs to compensate.Further watering depends on the weather and the age of the seedling:
young bushes are watered weekly, using 5 to 10 liters of water;
Mature plants are watered 2 times a month – under each bush 10 liters, and if there is a strong heat, more;
When the berries are ripening, stop watering;
after their harvesting, autumn watering is obligatory.
The soil after moistening should be loosened, weeds should not be under the bushes. Weed them and around the ditch, in which figs are planted, so that they do not shade the plant.
For rapid growth and yield, the followingfeeding schedule:
In the spring and until the end of July, feed twice a month with mineral nitrogen fertilizers or cowpea infusion;
starting in mid-July, make an extract of superphosphate and feed the plants twice;
In August and September, potassium fertilizers are required – a solution of potassium sulfate or ash extract.
Monthly foliar feeding with microfertilizer solutions. Experienced gardeners do not recommend feeding figs of the first and second year of life, if the planting hole is well dressed.
This is one of the most important operations in fig care. When forming, the golden mean should be observed – leave as many shoots as is convenient to cover for the winter, but also do not critically reduce their number, so as not to lose most of the harvest.
Only in the south, where figs are not covered thoroughly, it can be grown on a bough. In all other regions, plants are formed as a bush. There are several convenient ways to form it.
Tree on a bough
The height of the bole is chosen no more than half a meter. In the first year leave the strongest branch, remove the rest. The next year the remaining shoots should be shortened by a bud to form scaffold branches. For a good crown, 3 shoots at a height of 45 cm from the soil are enough. Further shaping consists of pruning some of the branches and keeping the center of the crown.
In the first year, three shoots are left on an annual shoot so that one grows vertically and 2 grow horizontally. In the second year of life, horizontal branches are shortened to 3 buds, tying. The central pole is pruned for branching. In the third year of life, the tree has already formed two tiers of fans. Once again, the central conductor is pruned, and the branches are cut to 3 buds. Afterwards, cut out excess shoots, keeping a fan of two or four sleeves. In spring, remove some of the old branches and trim the new shoots back by one bud.
With this method of formation, the bush is well lit, it has a positive effect on the harvest. In the first year, leave 3-4 shoots so that they are evenly distributed on the sides of the trunk, the central conductor is cut out. Subsequently maintain a bowl-shaped bush by cutting out all shoots growing in the center and thinning out the side ones.
With this method of pruning, bushes are laid in a trench and covered most easily, it is easy to organize drip irrigation. In the first year, leave two shoots on both sides of the bush, in autumn, pinch their tops and pinned horizontally to the soil. From each bud next year will grow young shoots that will give a crop. They can be tied to a trellis. In autumn, they are cut to a height of 10 cm, leaving the horns, they will give young shoots in the next season.
The choice of method of pruning depends not only on the ability to cover the plant, but also on how many crops in a season you want to get:
Breva is laid on the shoots of the previous year;
Summer shoots will give a crop by autumn, it may not fully mature.
General principles of pruning:
There is no single scheme for pruning figs, each plant must be approached individually;
Figs are characterized by great strength of growth – so pruning is required in spring and autumn, in addition, pruning during the summer;
In addition to shaping, sanitary pruning is also required – remove broken, dry and thickening shoots of the bush;
Old branches are difficult to bend, after 2-3 years they need to be replaced by replacement shoots, the exception – boles form;
The shoots are cut to the ring, the stump is not left;
all cuts are covered with garden varnish;
Use only sharply honed tools;
wear gloves when working – the caustic milky juice can cause skin irritation.
Multiplication of figs
Figs can be propagated by seeds and vegetatively.
This method of propagation of parthenocarpic varieties does not always preserve the variety of plants. Not all of them will be female, fruiting will have to wait up to 6 years. But after selection, you can get very productive forms.
They are taken only from fully matured fruits;
The resulting jelly-like mass is left to ferment for 3-5 days;
washed from the pulp;
dried in the shade;
before sowing store at a temperature of 5-7 degrees in a dry place;
germinating power lasts for up to two years.
Sowing is started in February:
Prepare a substrate of equal parts of sod soil, humus and sand;
fill planting containers with drainage holes and moisten them;
The seeds are placed at a depth of 0.5 cm with a distance of 1.5 cm between them, and 5 cm between the rows;
the soil is compacted and moistened;
to prevent the formation of mold on top of the soil, it is sprinkled with crushed charcoal.
Seedlings are kept in a warm, bright place, sprayed daily with water at a temperature of 20-25 degrees. After sprouting, young seedlings are protected from direct sunlight. They are thinned, leaving a distance of about 1 cm between the plants. After the appearance of two true leaves figs are pickled in separate pots 10 cm in diameter after abundant watering. The root is shortened by a quarter of its length. Sprouted seedlings first time shade.
Fig cuttings root very well. You can use the material obtained by pruning; But the best rooted are annual shoots 15 to 20 cm long, with short internodes and an apical bud. If the cuttings are not cut, but separated from the branch so that the heel is formed, it is on it form powerful and thick roots.
Preparation of cuttings:
On the side branches make a cut perpendicularly with a distance from the bud of 2-3 cm;
Vertical shoots are cut obliquely at an angle of 30-35 degrees, the distance from the bud 1-2 cm, the cut should be directed to it, so that the moisture from it on the bud did not run down;
cuttings from the lower and middle part of the shoot root best;
their length is 25-30 cm, and the diameter is not less than 12-15 mm;
cuttings are washed under running water and covered with garden varnish or dipped in paraffin;
Before storing cuttings wipe with a solution of hydrogen peroxide (1:10), wrapped in slightly damp cloth and placed in a polyethylene bag, kept in the vegetable department of the refrigerator, regularly checking for mold appearing wipe with hydrogen peroxide again, the tissue should always be slightly moist;
If there are a lot of cuttings they are tied into bundles and stored in wet sand in the basement.
Planting of cuttings:
Plant cuttings in April, and if the weather permits, then in March;
The cuts are renewed – the lower one is made under the bud, the upper one – 2 cm above the bud;
prepare the substrate for planting from equal parts of humus, garden soil and leaf soil, it can be replaced by well-washed coarse sand, another composition will do: 2 parts of turf and leaf soil, humus, 1 part of sand;
If there are few cuttings, for planting it is easiest to use cut plastic bottles with drainage holes;
the depth of planting cuttings – 7-10 cm, its lower end should be 4 cm from the bottom of the container, the length of the cuttings over the surface – 5-6 cm;
Water the planted cuttings well and put the container in a warm and bright place.
After 3-4 weeks, the cuttings are touched in growth. Begin hardening them in late April for one to two weeks, gradually accustoming them to fresh air and bright sunshine. Plants are transplanted into the ground when the threat of return frosts is over, directly into the permanent place.
If winter shelter is constructed by almost all gardeners, then temporary – in spring and autumn not everyone. And it is necessary:
In the spring after the removal of winter insulation, such a structure will protect the plants from frosts and allow the first crop to ripen more quickly;
In autumn – it will prolong the growing season and let the fruit ripen.
It is not difficult to make such a cover – arcs with polycarbonate covering are set over the plant. In warm weather, the greenhouse is ventilated. Remove polycarbonate when steady warmth arrives. The arcs are removed before covering the figs for the winter.
Algorithm of winter cover depends on how frosty winters are and on the method of planting and forming the plant.General principles:
After the autumn pruning and shortening part of the shoots, they are gradually ducked to the ground by placing planks on the branches, and on top of bricks or stones – thick branches in one step duck to the soil is impossible, they can break;
if a fig is formed as a bowl, the bush is tied and then ducked;
cover the bushes with leaf litter, necessarily dry, you can previously cover them with spunbond;
underneath, lay out poison for mice;
if plants are planted in a trench, it is covered with improvised materials – sheets of slate, metal or plywood, install vents in different ends of the shelter of two curved plastic pipes, so that plants do not grow out, the same cover and pits for single planting;
Fill with a layer of soil about 20 cm thick, the vents should be on top, with the onset of severe frosts they are closed;
if the bush is planted not in a trench, under the branches put waterproof material – roofing felt, plastic, slate sheets, above the wood ducked to the soil, cover with dry leaves, lay straw mats on them, cover with planks, and wrap with polyethylene film;
not bad winter bent to the ground and covered with leaves shoots in boxes of styrofoam with a wall thickness of 10 cm, lightweight structure will need to be fixed and then insulated with snow.
Cover figs when the temperature drops below plus 2 degrees, but not in frost. If in the spring the plants will be protected by temporary shelters, you can remove the winter insulation in the middle of April, so that the ground thaws faster, it is poured with boiling water.
Pests and diseases
Usually they can annoy the plant when growing in indoor culture, in an open ground in the middle belt figs have no pests, it is not threatened by diseases.