Home Plate for Figgi Riggi

Home Sweet Home

Figgi Riggi moves to a unique home

Because there are so many visitors noticing the Figgi Riggi blog, I have decided to move Figgi Riggi. It was changed from figgiriggi.wordpress.com to it’s own unique domain home at figgiriggi.com. Unfortunately, the transfer may have disrupted some pages that people had been linking to throughout the web. I was not able to preserve the original site structure of those pages and I promise that I will not change the new structure. If you were someone who had posted links to my posts on other blogs, then feel free to update the links in those locations. There is certainly more flexibility than I had before and I recommend that if you have a blog that you do the same thing, but if you are unsure I’ll show you how.

I made several changes to the look of this site to make it more interesting and better organized. It is also easier to share my blog postings on social media. Soon, I will begin posting interesting topics on a regular basis. Upcoming tutorials on setting up a blog for wealth, choosing a hosting service, using the best themes, finding beautiful fonts and how to monetize your blog. Topics in the works include: my latest tools, strange figs, greenhouses, cancer-free weed killer spray, and natural indoor pest removal. I may later include tutorials for new fig tree gardeners in USDA zone 7A or perhaps an online classroom experience.

Recent technical changes for this new home

A real emailing service called MailChimp that is recognized world-wide and does not spew out spam like a bursting volcano. I know, I hate that spam just as much as you do. This service has a strict anti-spam policy that I like. I have chosen not to include images in the emails that you receive, because sometimes it simply opens quickly and doesn’t eat up your email storage. Continuing with the direction that my fig hobby began, this is going to be a natural journey and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.

Spread the love of this beautiful home

If you like my postings, then feel free to use the new sharing buttons found below and also please leave a comment, because I like the interaction and helping you with troubleshooting your gardening tree problems.

Figgi Riggi new home
Young Brown Turkey figs growing early in the season.

Killing Freeze

What is a killing freeze (hard freeze)?

A killing freeze is when temperatures fall to or below 28ºF for at least a week. Most trees can survive brief periods of 32ºF. The killing freeze weather condition can kill a young fig tree if not protected. You can’t always make the best judgement when a freak cold blast comes down from Canada.

When autumn emerges, a tree will gradually drop it’s sap down to the base of the tree to help protect the branches from the Winter season, while it remains dormant. The problem that usually occurs is an early Spring during the month of March. At this moment, the weather warms up and the tree begins to leaf out as the sap returns to the branches.

Fig tree leafing out as Spring returns avoids killing freeze
Fig tree leafing out as Spring returns avoids killing freeze

As the Spring season emerges, the climate goes through a thawing/freeze period. Sometimes when the month of April approaches, a killing freeze could drop down suddenly. So, it can be difficult to judge when to unwrap your young tree.

Killing freeze from experience

I once had a situation in Connecticut where I had a 3 year old tree that suffered from a killing freeze in the month of April. All the branches died off down to the trunk of the tree, but because it had a very deep tap root, it sprung back to life in June where the new trunk system grew to 6 feet in 3 weeks. The following Fall, I wrapped the tree to protect the new growth. If you have a similar situation with a shallow tap root, there’s less of a chance that your young tree will survive. If you want to learn more about wrapping your tree for Winter storage, then visit my Outside Living page and see suggestion number 4 on Winterizing.

Yellow, Wilted or Curling Leaves

Symptom: Yellow, wilting or curling

Yellow, wilting or curling leaves. This is a sign that your tree is dehydrated and needs water ASAP.

Solution:

If the tree has been growing in the ground, place a garden hose directly at the base of the tree and let the water trickle over it for at least 1-2 hours. Watering a tree can be a daunting experience sometimes, so I recommend that you buy this Drip Irrigation Water Rock Sandstone. It might look ugly, but you can apply latex paint to it to change the color. In the meantime, it will have a continuous water drip into the roots of your tree. If it’s a young freshly planted tree, continue to water it on a regular basis about once every 3 days (skipping on rainy days) until the growing season has ended.

It can also mean that there is a lack of nutrients in the soil. In this case, I recommend that you feed it some Miracle-Gro 160101 Water-Soluble All Purpose Plant Food, 24-8-16, 1-Pound by Arett Sales – LG. Follow the instructions when mixing this with water.

Transplanting

The Thing with Two Heads

movie poster
movie poster

No, this isn’t the art of making a two-headed freak as in the movie classic, The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant / The Thing with Two Heads (Midnite Movies Double Feature). This is about transplanting the fig tree from a pot into the ground.

When your fig tree is coming out of Winter storage around the end of March (around the latitude of NJ), observe the tips of the branches. You’ll notice that they stayed green all Winter season. There is an indicator that tells you when it’s time to plant your fig tree outside. This is when leaves begin to break out from those green tips or just before. This is the ideal time to plant the tree and minimizes shock to the leaves.

Here are some basic instructions on transplanting:

  1. When a fig tree grows, it has roots that love to travel along the surface of the soil just under your grass and in fact, can raid flower beds. So, don’t grow it where it will damage other plants, unless you understand this risk and like things grown together.
  2. If your climate is not 100% suitable for growing out in the yard, you may choose to grow it next to your house. The house gives off enough heat radiation to warm the tree.
  3. Once you’ve chosen the ideal spot 12-20 feet away from other fig trees, soak the area well with water if it hasn’t rained lately. This holds up the soil while you’re digging and attracts the roots when they’re growing out.
    Setting the distance
    Setting the distance

    Dig the hole

  4. Dig a hole using this general guideline: 12 inches wide for every 1 inch width of tree trunk. The depth should be the same depth of your root ball plus an additional 4 inches. In the photo examples, the trunk was only about 1/2″ in diameter. I made the hole 12″ in diameter, although I could certainly have made it 6″ (use your best judgement). My brother Joe asked me what is root ball and if it was a disease you can catch. NO! You won’t catch “root ball” nor will you get “root balls”.
    cutting the sod with edging shovel
    Cutting a circle to the depth of grass roots with a shovel
    Removing the sod
    Removing the sod

    Start Digging

    Digging hole with spade shovel
    Digging hole with spade shovel
    Setting the depth
    Setting the depth

     

  5. To remove the tree from the pot, carefully hold the fig tree by the base of the trunk. Tilt it over and hit the sides and bottom of the nursery pot with your hand to loosen the soil inside.
    pounding the pot
    Hitting the sides and bottom of the pot with my hand.
  6. Remove the root ball from the pot.

    loosening the roots
    Loosening grow medium from around the roots
  7. Place it into the hole you just dug and loosen the soil around the roots.
  8. Add potting soil around the root ball and then fill in the rest to top it off at the top. The soil will compress when it’s watered. I use potting soil rather than the dirt that I dug up. The reason is that it’s sterile, full of nutrients and has added fertilizer. In this example, I purchased FoxFarm FX14023 Light Warrior Seed Starter Soilless Mix, 1-Cubic Feet (not av… because it has natural fertilizers that I like and I think you will like it too.

    →If the tree is falling over, drive a stake into the ground next to it and then tie it to the tree. I reach for an old cotton rag or towel and then cut 1 inch strips of fabric off of it to use for tying the the stake to the tree. Over time, the fabric degrades and falls off. I like the fabric because it’s soft and doesn’t scratch the tree.

    FoxFarm organic potting soil
    The organic potting soil I used
    transplanting tree into soil
    Soil Filled Into Hole
  9. Now that the tree is planted, add mulch. It doesn’t matter what kind of mulch. I like to use Mighty 109 Natural Cedar Mulch. Be sure to mold it into a bowl shape or like building a bird’s nest around the tree with your hands. It will funnel the water toward the roots.

    →I only use mulch for the first year I plant the tree. The following year I just apply a fresh layer of soil and leave it alone.

    Shaping the mulch
    Shaping the mulch
  10. Now water the tree. I gave the tree a thorough soaking by placing a hose there and letting a trickle of water run for an hour. Don’t soak it like this every time you water it thereafter, otherwise the roots could rot.

You’re Done!

Potted Fig Trees

Potted Fig Tree
Potted Fig Tree

General Care For Potted Fig Trees

Potted fig trees need certain requirements in order to grow successfully. Consider the following tips.

Pot Type

Choose a pot with a manageable size with holes on the bottom. The one I provide is a nursery pot, which means it’s the black flimsy kind that has large holes on the bottom (the kind that comes with a new bush from the plant store) and it doesn’t allow much root growth. Include a tray to fit under your pot to collect excess water.

Soil Type

Use soil that doesn’t retain water for long periods, so regular potting soil is not good. Reason? if it remains moist for a long time, it can promote root rot.

Another name of the soil I use is called grow medium. I used to get my soil from a hydroponics store in NJ that later went out of business, so I had to make my own grow medium. It is loose and allows the water to pass directly to the roots and then out the bottom. This grow medium is organic and contains pine bark, humus (organic compost) as the main fertilizer, and perlite. You don’t have to use this type of soil. An alternative recommendation is vermiculite mixed into it to loosen the soil. You can also buy The Dirty Gardener Dolomite Limestone – 2 Pounds and add it on top of the soil, especially if squirrels are digging around.

Fig trees LOVE limestone for it’s slow release properties. Readers recommend that you use a soil pH tester like the one mentioned in item number 6 of Outside Living.

Growing Season

Let the potted tree grow and water often. Don’t prune it because the sap is sweet. It attracts flies, other insects and fungus. However, if branches grow up from the bottom of the trunk, clip them off. The objective is to train it to grow with one trunk. There is a substance that you can get for sealing off the wood when you prune during the growing season, but I’ve never used it before.

Winterizing

In the Fall, the leaves will naturally fall off. Once they have fallen, move the potted tree into a cool dark place to store over the winter. Following this step ensures a good fig harvest the next season. If you store the tree in a warm dark place, it might not grow figs next year. I used an attached garage because it remained cold, but not freezing.

Pruning

At the start of the month of March, prune the branches back to a manageable size. By this time, the sap has fallen to the base of the tree. Rule of thumb, only prune a maximum of 1/3 of the tree. Pruning will also allow the tree to grow even more figs the next season.

Winter Watering

During the winter, give the potted tree about a cup of water once a month to keep it alive.

Springtime

As soon as you see leaves begin to emerge from the branches, move it outside and then give it water (just enough until you see water run out the bottom). A great way to test it to see if it has enough moisture is to take a dry stick (I use a short wooden skewer) and slip it as deep as you can into the soil for a few minutes. Pull it out and if the stick is dry, add water. It’s sort of like checking the oil in your car engine with the dip stick. Your tree is like a fig producing engine.

Maintenance

Once every 2-3 years, prune the roots. If you use a humus-based medium, you will also need to change the soil otherwise the roots will use up all the space and nutrients in the pot. If you used the conifer bark-based grow medium mix that I’ve mentioned in this blog, then you can wait until the next time you prune the roots to change the soil. Apartment residents can do this in the bathtub (or shower). Just line the inside of the tub with a plastic drop cloth. If the plastic keeps falling down at the sides, just tape it against the tiles.

City dwellers can give the soil back to the Earth by discarding it in your nearby park or communal garden. Of course, you can send it to the trash as well. Then the soil goes to a landfill and doesn’t hurt the trash there. Click here for photographic instructions on pruning your roots.