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  • Electri-FIG-ation

    I posted this before but I'm pretty happy with the results so I thought I'd share it here.
    OK. Last year I wrapped my in-ground figs like this and despite the mild winter we had, this tree died back to the ground. As you can imagine this had been keeping me awake at night.


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    A few days went by and an idea came to me that was inspired (I think) by Johnparavand his glorious Figloo, as well as Coconut Mike in Montreal.

    I went to the local Home Depot and picked up one of these:


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    Only 30 watts when it's on. It comes with a thermostat built in. I ran it and touching it you can't even feel the heat.

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    Built in thermostat that switches on at 0 C (32F).

    I unwrapped the tree - and luckily I did. It had been pushed way off to one side against the house wrap I was using to cover it.


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    A few layers of burlap so it can’t get too warm and around the tree the cable goes.

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    Follow up with a few layers of fiberglass pink and some stakes to keep the tarp from squishing the insulation

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    Finished with tarps and some mulch at the base and topped with a stylish hat.

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    A follow up in the spring for the big reveal. Fingers crossed it’ll be ready to go with no die-back, and that it's not a roasted fig tree…..
    >>>

    Fast-forward to April 2017

    OK folks, it's time! All winter I've been staring out the back window wondering how this tree was doing. So here we go. Step 1 - Go HERE and turn it up!

    Electro-fig was uncovered today and here's what I found.... First I peeled back the covers



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    I was relieved that the insulation was dry

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    Peeling back to the heating cables my boy stepped in to ask, "What on earth IS that on the tree?"

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    Down to nothing more than the burlap now.... so nervous

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    And here is it! Perfect!

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    No die-back! None!


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    Now here's the thing I didn't mention before. The tree above is on the north side of my house. On the south side is another CH that I bought and planted on the same day. They were of the same batch and age at time of planting. This tree, I protected with building wrap, leaves and no heat cable. I uncovered that tree today as well.

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    On the outside all the same. Everything seems in place.

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    Here you go. The tree will do fine... But serious die-back on all the branches.

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    I know this is by no means scientific method... But I'm pretty confident the cables took enough of the edge off the cold to protect the tree.

    I realize this is totally impractical if you have many in-ground trees to protect...But if you have a few, or maybe something really worth protecting......I'll probably ease off on more mature trees but for first year in the ground, I think this is a winning protection method.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by TorontoJoe; 07-24-2020, 06:19 PM.
    Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

  • #2
    Congratulations.... No cold damage AND no critter damage either.... It would have taken a determined critter to get under the electric heating cable and burlap for most of the length but they might have gotten to the base or just below surface... very glad for you that they didn't....
    Tony - Zone 6A
    WL- Good Health, a 60 lb Striped Bass, a Boone and Crockett Typical Buck, bushels of ripe Black Madeira figs, bushels of ripe Hachiya and other tasty Diospyros Kaki Persimmons

    Comment


    • #3
      The smaller critters aren't much of a problem for me thankfully - Due to a healthy population of hawks and coyote. Mice, rats are virtually non-existant. We get the odd bunny but not many.

      I think this is going to be my go-to method for a younger, in-ground tree spending it's first winter in the ground.

      I was confident this was going to work well.... My biggest worry was actually the potential for mould given how heavily it was insulated.
      Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

      Comment


      • #4
        Nice report, thanks for sharing the technique!
        What was your lowest temp, duration this past winter?
        Jesse in western Maine, zone 4/5
        Wishlist- earliest maincrop varieties

        Comment


        • #5
          I believe we got as low as -18C in January (about 0F)
          Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

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          • #6
            The things we will do to eat a fresh fig in the north! Nice work Joe.
            Tom Ashley, Leyden, Mass. 5a/b

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            • #7
              I wanted to share these. Coconut Mike is an inspiration for northern growers...







              So much dedication...
              Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

              Comment


              • Miracle fruit
                Miracle fruit commented
                Editing a comment
                Too bad this videos are not available any more. That YouTube account has been closed. Would have liked to see it

              • TorontoJoe
                TorontoJoe commented
                Editing a comment
                It was glorious. I’ve never seen the likes of it anywhere else. I can’t imagine why it went away.

            • #8
              I need to find a way to 'lectrify my trees later in the year so the squirrels and other critters don't climb the trees and get my prized produce.
              Bill- Zone 6b, Meridian, Idaho
              WL- Lattarula

              Comment


              • TorontoJoe
                TorontoJoe commented
                Editing a comment
                For critter protection I'll be spraying with a tea made from Trinidad Scorpion peppers

              • grasshopper
                grasshopper commented
                Editing a comment
                Don't forget to put on a breathing mask, goggle and protective clothing first before spraying.

            • #9
              Wow that's awesome good job

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              • #10
                It's really not that difficult. Took me about 30 minutes. Which would be a PITA if I had 50 trees in the ground
                Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

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                • #11
                  sweet! I'm glad it worked out for you.
                  Jim -- Central NJ, Zone 6b

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                  • #12
                    those guys that went to so much trouble for their palms I am impressed and more appeciative when I walk out in the yard year round and see the same thing and I just took them for granted

                    Comment


                    • TorontoJoe
                      TorontoJoe commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I know....And he's a full zone colder than I am. If it took that to protect figs... Well I wouldn't have so many trees for sure.... Thankfully palms grow at the family's place in Italy so I visit them there...

                  • #13
                    i'm happy for your success.
                    but, you may not have proved anything.
                    both my trees that died to the ground their first year, did just fine the second winter, which was colder.
                    since the wrapping was the same, it looks like years inground prevent , or at least reduce die off.
                    susie,
                    burner of trees
                    high plains, maybe zone 7.

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      Oh, I know. As I mentioned, not scientific method. But, did you read about the second tree? not proof but pretty compelling...
                      Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

                      Comment


                      • #15
                        i guess that's just a difference in our zones. i also had a hc die to ground when the coldest was 5 degrees.
                        the second year it was fine tho it dropped to -1.
                        i use fiberglass like you, but i just cover with over size black garbage bags.
                        if i had the energy, i'd use your method for delicate plants but it's too much work.
                        thing is, i'm willing to accept some dieback.
                        i'd be curious to know if there's any real difference between your 2 trees by fall.
                        please post if you get a chance.
                        susie,
                        burner of trees
                        high plains, maybe zone 7.

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                        • #16
                          I promise you will be hearing more about these trees!
                          Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

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                          • #17
                            Yes - I intend to keep feeding this thread every spring and fall to preach my method for over-wintering in ground figs. This past winter they needed to withstand sustained temps of -25C (-13F) Here's how they did

                            As usual they spent the winter with the wrap-on cables wrapped under the fiberglass pink insulation.

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                            Peeled back the cover. I plan to come up with a better solution than the the fiberglass insulation. It's unpleasant to work with and I hate throwing it away. In fall I hope to make reusable panels or of a rigid foam insulation.

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                            Here are the cables over a single layer of burlap

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                            Looking good. Despite a brutal winter, another successful over-wintering. Last year I had zero die back but we didn't hit temps nearly as low. This year I lost a few tips... And I put that down to the late heat wave after the cold dark summer

                            So here we are... A few dead tips that probably got cooked before they got covered and a big healthy tree... That I plan to thin out as it's now getting massive and going to shade out my pomodori

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                            Happy summer!
                            Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

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                            • #18
                              Thanks for sharing the results Joe.
                              I did read your post when you bought the cables.
                              I was wondering how they passed trough the hard winter .
                              Rio
                              Montreal Canada Zone 5

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                              • #19
                                Originally posted by nevepo View Post
                                Thanks for sharing the results Joe.
                                I did read your post when you bought the cables.
                                I was wondering how they passed trough the hard winter .
                                I didn't think they would look this good given how cold it was. Really, they're so much better off than the container trees in the garage. After three years, I'm so impressed with this that I'm formulating a plan to get as many of my trees in the ground as possible. Even here, they grow larger, fruit better and take less work over-all.... No watering stress or complicated fertilizers or soil conditioning...

                                Average, 30 min per tree to store and 5 minutes to uncover.
                                Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

                                Comment


                                • nevepo
                                  nevepo commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  Too  bad I have a very small lot to have trees inground.
                                  I would use the method for sure.  
                                  So I'm stuck with pots.

                                • TorontoJoe
                                  TorontoJoe commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  Maybe room for one?

                                  I'm slowly convincing my wife that we don't need any plants that don't produce fruit. She likes flowers... No problem... Tomatoes and plums flower! .... It's a work in progress....

                              • #20
                                this past year was too mild for me to make recommendations, but half my trees were covered in mover's blankets instead of fiberglass with the same results.
                                much nicer to work with, but you have to store them all year.
                                i have no idea how you wrap a tree in 30 minutes.
                                it takes me forever to bend the branches, now that they are thick.
                                i use a ratchet thing to bend them.
                                susie,
                                burner of trees
                                high plains, maybe zone 7.

                                Comment


                                • TorontoJoe
                                  TorontoJoe commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  I love the ratchet thing! Those straps are one of my favorite tools!

                                  I need the extra insulation... more than the blankets can offer

                                • susieqz
                                  susieqz commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  based on the theory that this next winter will be their forth inground, i'm moving entirely to movers blankets.
                                  i understand the trees will be as tough as they are gonna get by this age.
                                  but -1 is the lowest i've seen here.
                                  if you move to ridged insulation, will you have to keep the trees exactly the same size every year?

                              • #21
                                susieqz - My trees will have a defined size but I'm pretty stubborn. As I mentioned above (Coconut Mike) I plan to make big trees. The one I pictured here was 9' at dormancy... I have no issue with maintaining a 12' tree... I can get rigid foam sheet in that length. I figure I can get 2' thick pieces and double laminate them to 4' for an R value of 10. I'm thinking of framing them with PT lumber and using threaded rod to make them modular. I think it will do the trick but time will be the test

                                I still can't help but be in awe over how far south you are from me and how cold it gets at your place. It has to me Lake Ontario for me... I'm just steps from it's thermal mass. crazy!
                                Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

                                Comment


                                • Harish-C
                                  Harish-C commented
                                  Editing a comment
                                  I salute you for your dedication and devotion to maintaining 12' tall fig trees thru a Canadian winter; Congratulations!!! I have seen it done by some neighbours, and the work involved, when I lived in Toronto for a couple of years, and can well imagine the time and expense involved if you had to do that for a couple of dozen trees. Sure glad I built a greenhouse for my figs; looks like all 40 of them made it thru a NJ winter without any problems.

                              • #22
                                yeah, most of my life lake erie moderated temps for me.
                                the continental climate is a real thing away from water.
                                if you can do 12' trees, so shall i.
                                thanks for a new goal.
                                we are in extreme drought here again. my garden is the only green i have.
                                the bigger the trees, the better.
                                how does one find out the R value of mover's blankets?
                                i wrapped some trees in 6 layers, some in 4.
                                i need to find the minimum necessary.
                                susie,
                                burner of trees
                                high plains, maybe zone 7.

                                Comment


                                • #23
                                  I don't know the R value of a moving blanket but I'll be damned it I can't keep growing my ancestral food...Whatever it takes...

                                  Speaking of which... Cucuzza? My monsters are taking off! I have to put them in the ground very soon...
                                  Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

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                                  • TorontoJoe
                                    TorontoJoe commented
                                    Editing a comment
                                    I'm so hoping you get to eat the tomatoes ripe!

                                    The cucuzzi start off lazy then take off... 8-12 weeks for germination... But when they take off fasten your seat belt!

                                  • cis4elk
                                    cis4elk commented
                                    Editing a comment
                                    Whoa! Does it really take 8-12 weeks for the cuccuza seeds to germinate? If so, I guess I'll be trying them next year because I was just going to plant the seeds in ground along with all the other squash in a few weeks. Too late now. I figured you started yours so early so you could grow the monsters. I was just going to harvest them smaller to eat.

                                  • TorontoJoe
                                    TorontoJoe commented
                                    Editing a comment
                                    mine took close to 8 weeks before they started to pop out of the soil. some heat will speed up the process. That said, once they do you have to act pretty quickly as they grow fast. You're actually better off starting a bit later. If they sprout too early and it's still too cold to plant they get pretty hard to manage. Mine sprouted last week and are a foot tall now. I have to get them in the ground very soon.

                                • #24
                                  Joe: There once was a TV ad for GE that said"LIVING BETTER ELECTRICALLY"! Sure applies to your cable protection. Highly intelligent solution! So this is a 30 watt cable?I want to get same thing too for my BM inground. as to wraps.Here seeking free stuff I found carpet stores remove old carpets and put them in dumpsters.One can salvage them and get a 9x12 foot piece of thick water resistant insulating material to cut into whatever dimensions are desired.Moving blankets probably cost most people money, old carpet is free and worked perfectly for me here this past winter as an experiment .Carpet covered figs have large brebas now and zero tip death despite 3F night.
                                  Z8A NC SANDHILLS

                                  WISH LIST ZAFFIRO, THERMOLITO

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                                  • Harish-C
                                    Harish-C commented
                                    Editing a comment
                                    Yatama, You are genius in re-purposing stuff that most people would just discard; very inspiring, indeed.

                                • #25
                                  The cables are color coded for wattage. More length = more resistance. In the case of trees I don’t think much is needed. We just need to get a reasonable spacing.

                                  https://wrap-on.com/product/pipe-heating-cable/

                                  I believe all my tip damage occurred before I got the cables on. This method has been very bullet-proof for me.
                                  Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

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