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  • New fighouse, high density

    I am working on a new house just for figs. So far the post are in the ground and some mulch has been put placed. It is going to be 48' wide and 96' long and I will determine the height tomorrow when cut off the post to level them. My concern is how close together can I plant trees to get the maximum number of varieties and fruit. They will be planted in ground. I also need to determine what varieties are worth using space inside for them as there is plenty of room outside.
    Last edited by testmod; 02-18-2015, 11:29 AM. Reason: sorry just testing mod tools and who better to pick on than Hershell
    Nothing in the world takes the place of growing citrus till figs come along. Ray City, Ga. Zone 8 b.

  • #2
    This video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfLvQxwgQLw
    and PDF, http://www.sonmutnou.com/htm/campexperimentacio.pdf
    of Montserrat Pons' outdoor orchard with some info on plant spacing and deep cultivation close to the tree trunks to eliminate suckers, to encourage deep roots and to help maintain the single trunk tree form. Cultivation (root pruning) along with pruning helps to keep tree size under control.

    Japanese Espaliers that are grown in houses... http://www.hawaiifruit.net/Figs-Japan.htm , "Old Style" tree form / multi-cordon espalier, http://www.hawaiifruit.net/aifarm/aifigfarm.html and a California tree espalier/ pruning technique, http://figs4funforum.websitetoolbox....&postcount=151 which shows some in-ground pruned shapes and info that may be helpful in creating a spacing layout.

    The Japanese prescriptive espalier diagram actually shows planting the trees at a 10' center then thinning them out to 20' after a few years as the espaliered trees get larger. You could similarly start them with a 10' radius and thin them out in a few years due to your warmer zone. The Japanese 2 cordon espaliers are grown in 3' wide 1' high raised beds with 4' between beds and are spaced 20' apart. The raised beds provide for root cultivation (root pruning) and yearly pruning removes most of the trees' growth to keep them at a manageable fixed size.

    If the trees are grown in a modified 4 cordon espalier or tree form, they would need at minimum 6' wide beds with 4' isles between beds, which would make a 10' minimum spacing. In my NYC, Zone 7 fig trees can easily grow to 12' diameter and 12' to 15' tall when left on their own over several years. I've place potted tees in a 12x20 hoop house @ 4' on center. They were 6' tall and 4' -5' in diameter... My outdoor in ground spacing is 10' on center, but I'm practicing the Japanese pruning method and my season is only 5 - 6 months long.

    Wills has grown similar espaliers in a warmer zone and may have a more informed answer since my experience has been in Zone 6 and 7.
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Hershell View Post
      I am working on a new house just for figs. So far the post are in the ground and some mulch has been put placed. It is going to be 48' wide and 96' long and I will determine the height tomorrow when cut off the post to level them. My concern is how close together can I plant trees to get the maximum number of varieties and fruit. They will be planted in ground. I also need to determine what varieties are worth using space inside for them as there is plenty of room outside.
      Just my opinion. But if you can picture a 8' diameter per tree with a 2' spacing in between would that be enough for you? Just have to do the math and see how it might look.
      Before I plant them in the ground I would try and place the potted ones where you will be planting them. Use them as markers and just picture them as of they were mature.

      As for what cultivars to plant. I would start out with the proven ones first. This could take you a couple of years to complete. Remember, fancy name does not equal quality.
      I was told by a friend from abroad that the Bordissott Negra Rimada is much Better than the Martinenca Rimada. And we all know the Martinenca Rimada is possibly the next hot ticket. Something to consider.

      Good luck

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      • #4
        I guess I should post a list of the varieties I have so some could be scratched off because I have no idea on most of them.
        Nothing in the world takes the place of growing citrus till figs come along. Ray City, Ga. Zone 8 b.

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        • #5
          Regardless the spacing, I think you'll need to summer prune as well to keep air flowing. Rust could be a problem.
          https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
          SE PA
          Zone 6

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          • #6
            I'm sure it's going to be an experience for sure. I didn't have rust on my potted trees in the greenhouse but my old Celeste tree had it really bad.
            Nothing in the world takes the place of growing citrus till figs come along. Ray City, Ga. Zone 8 b.

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            • #7
              Congrats on starting this incredible project, Hershell. I remember when you first mentioned it while we were sampling figs in Tallahassee. I've got to say that it's a great idea. The open orchard concept in our climate zone is just not going to work well for a majority of cultivars. My fig orchard has been up 3-4 years now and I consider it a failure. I have succeeded in realizing that there are a minority of figs that can survive a zone 8b winter. This year has been the most devastating. I am tired of having my trees die down to the ground and then have to wait most of the summer for them to grow back to the same level. No surprise that the survivors are mostly the Mount Etna figs plus LSU Gold, Atreano and a few others. So my suggestion is to plant your exotics (CDD's, Galicia, Rimada's etc) under protection and the cold survivors elsewhere. Rust is another story.

              Frank
              Frank Tallahasee 8B
              North Florida Figs

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              • #8
                Frank, it's taken a while but it's finally getting there. Thanks to you and a few others I have some rather large trees ready to be planted inside. I have enough bird netting to cover the structure so I might get a chance at them. I want to have it ready to start planting soon and might even get some plastick over part of it so I can get an early start. I like your suggestion on what to plant inside. I'm sorry about your trees getting killed down again this year. Do you think putting a small box around them like I do with citrus would help. My large citrus trees took a hard hit too because the freeze was so early in the season.
                Nothing in the world takes the place of growing citrus till figs come along. Ray City, Ga. Zone 8 b.

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                • #9
                  Wish I could help you with that Hershell. Im in the same pickle as to what to plant. I have a good idea but not dead set on which varieties need to go in the ground. My issues here are a little different than yours. Im not too worried about cold but high humidity is my kicker. Not to mention hurricans, rats, squirles, mocking birds and hungry little boys. Good luck on what ever you decide!

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                  • Hershell
                    Hershell commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I wish you were close by. I could always use some more help.

                • #10
                  As I suggested on the phone, Hershell, I think you should use the Japanese method. You're not sure you can keep up with the pruning, you said, but if you don't you'll just make it more work for yourself later on in trying to keep fruit within reach from the ground. We'll be old farts before long (feel like I'm already there some of the time) and the one ladder fall I had is more than enough.
                  My fig photos <> My fig cuttings (starts late January) <> My Youtube Videos

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                  • #11
                    Thanks Harvey. I'm just not sure I can do that many stepover figs. I do want to do several and then I will probably wish I had done more. We cut the post level today so it is 8' 6"" tall.
                    Nothing in the world takes the place of growing citrus till figs come along. Ray City, Ga. Zone 8 b.

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                    • #12
                      We made a little more progress today.
                      Nothing in the world takes the place of growing citrus till figs come along. Ray City, Ga. Zone 8 b.

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Looks Great Hershell!

                        On the topic of high density, for figs what is considered high density? 3 or 4 trees per hole, or trees kept smaller and closer together?
                        Scott - Colorado Springs, CO - Zone 4/5 (Depending on the year) - Elevation 6266ft

                        “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” – Bill Mollison

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                        • #14
                          I'm not sure Scott. I plan to put them 6' apart and that could grow into a jungle pretty quick. I don't know how close is too close and still produce fruit and be able to get through to pick it.
                          Nothing in the world takes the place of growing citrus till figs come along. Ray City, Ga. Zone 8 b.

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            If you're trying to work out what varieties will be be best for your project, maybe try multigraft trees to save space? There's that Frankenfig on f4f.
                            https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
                            SE PA
                            Zone 6

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                            • #16
                              Originally posted by Hershell View Post
                              I'm not sure Scott. I plan to put them 6' apart and that could grow into a jungle pretty quick. I don't know how close is too close and still produce fruit and be able to get through to pick it.
                              When you read about high density planting with say stone fruit, they refer mostly to planting 3 or 4 trees in basically the same hole then pruning them to be a quarter of the hole. I think the density may be ideally based of the maximum size you want each tree to grow so that it fits your yield profile, plus having room to move about. With the size some figs can obtain, the pruning may turn into a full time job.

                              Scott
                              Scott - Colorado Springs, CO - Zone 4/5 (Depending on the year) - Elevation 6266ft

                              “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” – Bill Mollison

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                              • #17
                                Hershell,

                                I have less space for storage than I do for growing. I am training my trees to grow as a single cordon espalier. I am not planning on letting them get more than about 2.5' in diameter during the season. When they go dormant, all limbs off the trunk will pruned back to a node or two. In ground you could plant on about 3-4' centers and 6-8' between rows. The stepover fig has the advantage that you can graft a new variety at every vertical branch. Conceivably, you could have a different variety every foot.
                                Littleton, CO (zone 5b) - In Containers
                                N.E. of Austin, TX (zone 8b)- In Ground.

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                                • #18
                                  Hershell,

                                  I have hopes to put up a high tunnel around 32x70 within a couple years with in-ground figs will be watching what works best.

                                  Phil North Georgia Zone 7 Looking for: All of them, and on and on,

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                                  • #19
                                    Some info that I've quoted before on fig tree planting density and Tall spindle apple tree density. The spacing for the Apple trees are based on growing outdoors with tractors and tractor operated implements (12" wide rows), while the Japanese tree spacing is based on growing in a house.
                                    http://www.hawaiifruit.net/Figs-Japan.htm ,
                                    Tree Shaping and Care
                                    Young trees are allowed to grow to about 2 meters in height before being slowly lowered over a period of ten days to reduce stress and breakage. They are fastened to supports about 40 cm above ground. The one vertical becomes a horizontal. In same cases two verticals will be encouraged and tied in opposite directions.
                                    Older trees can be found with 4 main horizontal arms in an X pattern. All the arms are tied to supports. Over a few years when the desired length is reached, 2.5 to 5 meters, the tips are routinely cut. From these long horizontal limbs, new shoots for the years growth and production sprout. These are cut to keep the new uprights 50 cm apart. In some locations 30cm or 40cm are common but new verticals at 50cm have shown to produce more consistent production and keep leaves from touching. The spread of virus is a serious concern. Each year the new vertical will produce 18 to 20 fruit before the season ends. The verticals are cut each year leaving about 7cm or 8cm of old growth, or 2 or 3 nodes.
                                    The following seasons new growth appears on the ends of the cut nodes. When new shoots appear, only the most outer one is left for the production. This is usually the strongest. During the growing season, the verticals will reach a height of more than one meter and produce 18 to 20 figs. These verticals are always supported either by framework or by plastic strapping that hangs from an overhead frame.
                                    Occasional side shoots are cut off. The average tree produces 220 figs in a 2 x 9 foot space.
                                    https://extension.umass.edu/fruitadv...ngApplesNE.pdf ,
                                    High Density - 1000-1500 trees per acre. Planting systems research in NY has shown that the optimum economic planting density is approximately 1000 trees per acre (Figure 1). Proper selection of density for this system depends on consideration of the vigor of the variety and rootstock and on the soil strength. The maximum spacing between trees should be 4 feet and 12 feet between rows.
                                    The optimum Tall Spindle spacing for an average vigor variety and soil is 3 feet by 11 feet.
                                    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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                                    • #20
                                      I graft for a living part of the year but haven't tried figs yet. On pecans we got up to 2300 - 2500 grafts per day. I have a few for root stock and plan to try but mt Black Madeira is not corporation, it won't go dormant. I hope to have as many varieties as I can the house but on there own roots so I don't have to check for root stock suckers.
                                      Nothing in the world takes the place of growing citrus till figs come along. Ray City, Ga. Zone 8 b.

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                                      • #21
                                        I love this project, Hershell, and hope it's a homerun for you.

                                        I'm pursuing something similar, and had been planning to plant my trees 8' apart, but that seems like it would turn into a cramped jungle in a hurry.

                                        I should be able to test a lot of cultivars over the next few years, but unfortunately I've only tested a few cultivars so far and my advice is pretty limited at this point. As you know, the humidity-resistant cultivars (closed/sealed eyes) should win the day, and the ones that sour easily probably won't work out. Celeste, Alma, and VdB/Vista seemed unaffected by the extreme humidity in my tunnels, and I have high hopes that Nero 600m among others will be the same way. On the other end of the spectrum, my greenhouse Conadria fruits all soured before they could hang on the tree long enough to get good. In between are my Mt. Etna varieties, which are fine if I vent the greenhouses, but can get moldy fruit if I keep the greenhouse closed up and maximally humid.

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                                        • #22
                                          I'm totally jealous I think you've already heard what I would say. You might want to stick to pots until you know what will work. The long season great tasting kinds like CdDG would seem ideal but I don't know anyone with greenhouse experience to say if the fruit tastes good with high humdity. Also, the MR may not taste the best but rapid growth and selling on ebay could fund your projects
                                          Bob C. KC, MO Zone 6a. Wanted: Martineca Rimada, Galicia Negra, Fioroni Ruvo, De La Reina - Pons, Tauro, BFF, Sefrawi, Sbayi, Mavra Sika , Fillaciano Bianco, Corynth, Souadi, Acciano Purple, LSU Tiger, LSU Red, Cajun Gold, BB-10 any great tasting fig

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                                          • #23
                                            I have citrus in ground in 2 greenhouses and they are getting cramped but still have adequate walkways. The spacing is 8' and some 10' apart and that is close for citrus but it is working out pretty good. I do prune some variety more than others to keep them from getting too wide and some variety show get too tall and have to be top pruned. I hope to keep the figs under 8' tall so I might have to cut them back to 2' in the winter. I hope to get to watch Wills trees this year to see how much they grow but I will probably allready have mine in ground before I get much figured out about his spacing. Strudeldog, may be by the time you get to put yours up I will be made all of the mistakes. I'm not far from you this week and it's cold in La Fatette. I really appreciate all of the ideas here and I might have to try 1 row of several different techniques to see what works best but surely somebody has done this before.
                                            Nothing in the world takes the place of growing citrus till figs come along. Ray City, Ga. Zone 8 b.

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                                            • #24
                                              Hershell ,
                                              The JH Adriatic I have in a greenhouse has done very well , flavor was exceptional.
                                              May be worth including in the GH with your Black Madeira , Col de Dame , etc...
                                              How tall are the side vents on this house ?
                                              Kerry - NH zone 5
                                              Wish list - Angelito ,Thermalito , Exquisito , Campaniere, Teramo .

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                                              • #25
                                                It has 8' 6" sides and they will be removed in the summer. Bird screen will be installed in all areas That don't have plastic on it
                                                Nothing in the world takes the place of growing citrus till figs come along. Ray City, Ga. Zone 8 b.

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