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  • Companion planting for figs

    I recall a thread about this on f4f before, but this is ourfigs so let's discuss it here!

    Anyone do companion planting for figs? I haven't found much info out there on it for figs, but I usually plant perennial herbs and smelly plants near all my fruit trees to deter deer and other pests (with little success). Chives are supposedly good to plant with apple trees. Some marigolds help with nematodes.

    Thyme, chives, and perennial geraniums abound in my yard. I've also planted some sedums around figs to fill in amongst the rocks, but that's more for weed suppression. Using the term a little more loosely, I also plant flowers that attract predatory wasps (mostly native plants).
    https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=Kelby
    SE PA
    Zone 6

  • #2
    I usually put a few lettuce seedlings in newly potted containers. It looks nice, and is a good indicator for water and fertilizer.
    .

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    • #3
      I'm going to plant some newly rooted cutting of thyme, rosemary and lavender in some of my larger fig pots. I'll probably add some chives and roman chamomile that has spread into the yard.
      Kevin (Eastern MA - Zone 5b/6a)

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      • #4
        I've begun to use a lot of common comfrey and Russian comfrey around in-ground fig bushes as fertilizer and living mulch. They add great beauty and I'm expecting extreme functionality. I planted comfrey for the first time last year, so my thoughts on this are still tentative due to only limited direct observation so far but my hopes are great and I'll know a lot more by the end of this year, and then by the following year especially.

        I prefer Russian to common because Russian is a hybrid with sterile seeds, therefore don't have to worry about the plant spreading by seed. It will spread by root if you dig around its roots, so don't disturb the plant if you don't want it to spread. Its roots grow deep basically straight down not interfering with fig roots which spread above. Comfrey is such a powerful all purpose mineral extractor (clay, no problem) that I anticipate that comfrey will completely eliminate any fertilizing needs of in-ground fig bushes (not that I fertilize them much anyway). Alex Ojeda claims that comfrey even brings up water from deep to surrounding plants. (I'm a bit dubious but can see a point in that its abundant foliage holds a lot of water and that foliage can be cut regularly and mulched under.) Comfrey can be cut back multiple times per year, is extremely frost resistant, comes on very early in spring as if it were summer, a month ahead of the growing zone, so it's a delight to see it come booming on when most all else remains barren. In addition to its mass of lush long leaves it has beautiful small bell like flowers. (Good info on comfrey: http://www.nantahala-farm.com/comfre...ing-14-s.shtml)

        If you need to get rid of comfrey you can't typically dig it out but I've read that you can put a tarp or possibly garden fabric and mulch over it for a year and eliminate it that way.

        I also use swales (ditches) dug on contour (more-or-less) mulched in the dip and over the berm to capture water and to divert it into the ground preventing run-off. Eventually, my hope is that my swales will be deep enough and heavily mulched enough that I will not need to irrigate. One of the photos here shows a swale above a common comfrey plant and a small fig bush with one limb preserved over winter by the low limb technique. I've planted recently many seeds of a variety of herbs and flowers along these swales along with many small comfrey roots, so this scene next year should show a mass of green instead of the current bare wood chips. Most of the surrounding in-ground fig bushes are waiting to come up from the ground. Next year I will low cordon or low limb all of those bushes so that they will also show green at this point next year, leafing out like the one low limb here next to the comfrey plant.

        Alex Ojeda talks about using permaculture to eliminate fertilizating and irrigating, and to improve the health, nutrition, and vigor of the plants, trees, their produce, and the ecology in general, all of which is my goal. See this entire great video, or for his remarks about comfrey see the 21:06 mark: Permaculture Principles - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDh774uVmP8
        You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 5 photos.
        Last edited by mountainfigs; 05-10-2015, 10:43 AM.
        Tony WV 6b
        https://mountainfigs.net/

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        • ako1974
          ako1974 commented
          Editing a comment
          I have Purple Comfrey and if it's similar to Russian, it's great stuff. I don't use it as a cover crop, rather as a compost accelerant. Rip off a few leaves, tear them up, throw them in the compost bin, and it decomposes what's in there in a week. Good stuff - I use it all summer long. I can also make a fertilizer tea out of it, though I've never done it.

        • AscPete
          AscPete commented
          Editing a comment
          Purchased my Comfrey from, http://www.coescomfrey.com/comfrey.html
          Started with root cuttings and a few Crown cuttings as easy to grow as Curly Dock, with is also useful in composts.

        • mountainfigs
          mountainfigs commented
          Editing a comment
          I purchased some comfrey from Coe's Comfrey too initially, crown and roots. Good stuff. I've also traded fig cuttings for comfrey with Jesse in Maine - zone5figger - more good stuff.

      • #5
        Is there a carnivorous plant that eats birds and squirrels?

        if so..... that's what I'm planting! !!!
        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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        • Kelby
          Kelby commented
          Editing a comment
          Feed me, Seymour!

        • COGardener
          COGardener commented
          Editing a comment
          LOL

        • Laeotis
          Laeotis commented
          Editing a comment
          Yes, the plant is actually a cat!

      • #6
        Do deer eat plants, leaves and figs or just figs? I would think the milk sap would deter deer.

        I need to know because I just finished potting 18 cuttings to gal pots and are unprotected from deer. I can move them to my enclosed garden area if need be.
        Jerry, Canyon Lake TX 8b

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        • heathfarm
          heathfarm commented
          Editing a comment
          The only animal on my farm that attacks my fig trees is my dogs! I do not know why but they love to chew on fig wood! The deer here are addicted to my okra plants so they never really mess with my figs.

      • #7
        Don't know about the Texas deer. Haven't had any problem amidst lots of deer in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
        Tony WV 6b
        https://mountainfigs.net/

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        • #8
          Only problem with deer and my potted figs is they seem to think I shouldn't place the pots in their trails and so they turn them over sometimes.
          North Georgia Zone 7

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          • heathfarm
            heathfarm commented
            Editing a comment
            If you ever grow okra they will eat every last piece!

        • #9
          I am sure that an inquisitive deer might take a bite, but I think the consensus I have read is that deer don't like the latex in the sap.
          Ed
          SW PA zone 6a

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          • #10
            I met a guy in Austin who said in the past his horses would chew down his trees.
            Littleton, CO (zone 5b) - In Containers
            N.E. of Austin, TX (zone 8b)- In Ground.

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            • #11
              I was thinking about planting a pole bean or two around my in ground fig trees.The added nitrogen to the soil from the beans should be beneficial.
              Barry
              NE GA ,Zone 7b Low Temperature of 4F in 2015,17F in 2016,17F in 2017,6F in 2018,17F in 2019

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              • #12
                I don't do companion planting with potted figs, but have practiced the use of cover crops http://extension.psu.edu/plants/crop...blication_file over the past decade and can attest to the benefits. A mixture of grasses, legumes and Brassicas (annual Rye, Clover, Field Peas, Cow Peas, Vetch, wild Mustard, Turnip and Radish) Russian Comfrey, Mints and weeds are my cover crops (companion plants) that are used as cut and drop mulch and for compost. A site with lots of good concise info, http://extension.psu.edu/plants/crops/publications. My practiced Permaculture Gardening bible, http://www.appropedia.org/images/d/d3/Onestraw.pdf
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                Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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                • #13
                  I recently came by a couple thousand grapevine growing tubes....placed around newly planted vines to protect them against rodents, wabbits and the like....I'll be using some of them to protect the new figgies to be planted out this year...they're 18" tall and have a perforation along one side to split open when the time is right.

                  I'd be afraid of harboring pesties under the foliage...I'll keep mine clean until they're teenagers

                  Ross B. Santa Rosa Calif zone 9b, wish list: CdD Blanc, Igo, Palmata, Sucrette, Morroco, Galicia Negra

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                  • #14
                    Ross,

                    Many years ago, I bought a fig tree from a nursery in NJ that was staked and had a plastic tree wrap around the trunk. When I took the tree wrap off, I found a mass of roots growing between the tree and the stake as well as in the open space in the wrap.
                    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 5 photos.
                    Littleton, CO (zone 5b) - In Containers
                    N.E. of Austin, TX (zone 8b)- In Ground.

                    Comment


                    • Kelby
                      Kelby commented
                      Editing a comment
                      It was already airlayered for you!

                  • #15
                    These aren't wraps but tubes about 4" in diameter which protect vines from mainly rabbits and deer during their first year. I'll take a pic in the morning when the big yellow globe comes up. Planted one this afternoon...with a tube.

                    I like the label...."small" deciduous tree....out here a mission fig can easily be 30-40' tall and wide
                    Ross B. Santa Rosa Calif zone 9b, wish list: CdD Blanc, Igo, Palmata, Sucrette, Morroco, Galicia Negra

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                    • #16
                      ginamcd, I saw your comment about your father planting a cucumber with his container figs as a possible living water gauge, have you ever tried it yourself?

                      I was going through several older threads because I was curious whether anyone has run into problems planting herbs or other companion plants with their container figs and whether you do it regularly. I’ve grown garlic with my oldest fig before and they seemed to do well together.

                      I’ve been considering planting different mint varieties in different pots to keep them separated and prevent their invasive tendencies. I read several people use comfrey in ground, but does anyone use it with container figs? I’m looking at roughly 35 new container fig trees this summer and trying to balance their needs with keeping the rest of our family happy by potentially using them as a pseudo kitchen garden for primarily things like the mentioned mint, thyme, oregano, sage, etc. this summer. I like the idea of planting some of the spring blooming bulbs like ranunculus to bring some beauty in the spring, although I’m not sure how well that would work if they’re tucked away in the garage until after risk of freeze is low.

                      Looking forward to whatever advice of experience y’all have!
                      My Current Figs
                      WL: Paratjal Rimada, Boysenberry Blush, Thermalito, RLBV, Nuestra Senora del Carmen. Zone 8a

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                      • ginamcd
                        ginamcd commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I have not planted anything in my fig pots. They are only 8 gallons and within the first years are densely packed with fig roots making adding anything extremely difficult. If I did, it would likely have to be an annual that could be removed before winter storage.

                      • ggperalta
                        ggperalta commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Good to know and makes sense - if I decide to do it, will stick to things that will die off over the winter and likely can only fit something in at the start of spring growth after potting up or post root pruning. I have been reviewing your series of posts on container figs and shaping, praying I can successfully implement stage one (heading) this year after the growing season.

                      • Sulev
                        Sulev commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Last summer I grew melons and watermelons between my in ground figs. It worked well, as they both like warm well drained soil and their leaves were at different level. My figs were young at their third year (second year in the ground) and their root system wasn't very extensive, so despite dense orchard there was plenty of space for melons between fig roots.

                    • #17
                      I just bought a bunch of lavender seeds to grow around my in-ground trees.
                      Tom V
                      San DiegoCa
                      Wishlist: Them esoteric figs

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                      • ginamcd
                        ginamcd commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Lavender is tough to grow from seeds, but not impossible. It also doesn't like wet roots or acidic soil, so should get along nicely with the fig trees.

                    • #18
                      I have a clump of garlic chives growing with a fig tree in a 25 gallon pot. The chives have grown several years in the pot.
                      Jennings, Southwest Louisiana, Zone 9a

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                      • #19
                        I just put down some rocks I find from my land around fig trees. Already a lot of grass and tree seedlings around them. Do not want to introduce more vegetation to the area. Need access to the trees to prune, pinch, harvest etc. Not sure if intensive companion planting is good for fig trees.
                        Attached Files
                        Princeton, New Jersey, 6B
                        flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/red-sun/albums
                        My FigBid: https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Browse?Seller=RedSun

                        Comment


                        • ggperalta
                          ggperalta commented
                          Editing a comment
                          That’s what I’m concerned about, as I’d rather not introduce problems. I’d definitely avoid planting any other heavy feeders with them. I do wonder whether shallow rooted herbs might function as a living mulch to benefit the tree.

                        • Red_Sun
                          Red_Sun commented
                          Editing a comment
                          ggperalta

                          Fig trees have shallow roots. No deep tap roots. So in general, it is not good to dig around fig trees to plant anything. I think fig roots are also aggressive. So companion plants can't compete with fig trees.

                        • PacNorWreck
                          PacNorWreck commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Red_Sun I have an in-ground fig tree with phlox, iris, daylily, lamium, and polemonium planted quite close to the tree. They seem to all coexist pretty well.

                      • #20
                        Some ideas - sweet alyssum, calendula, california poppy, rose geranium, low-growing mountain sages will all bring bees, ladybugs, beneficials, and hummingbirds for the sages.

                        If you are looking for edibles, mediterranean herbs such as oregano, thyme, and lavender don’t compete as heavily for nutrients as herbs from more wet climates.

                        I would stay away from comfrey. The reason permaculturists use it in the garden is the reason I’d keep it away from my figs - it’s hyper efficient at pulling nutrients from deep in the soil. Great if you are growing it in poor soil and want to bring nutrients up to the surface by composting the comfrey. Bad in a pot where the only nutrients for grabs are the ones you are putting there for your figs.

                        One last note - I did some studies last summer of potted figs with companion plants vs those with none. The companion-planted figs were consistently a few degrees cooler than those with nothing; great if you are in a hot climate, bad news in a cool summer climate like mine.
                        Eric - Seattle / Sunset Zone 5 - W/L: Granato - Now offering fig-pops, my rooting mix, and gritty potting mix! https://www.figbid.com/Listing/Brows...er=pacnorwreck

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                        • ggperalta
                          ggperalta commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Forehead slapping realization of why comfrey in a pot largely defeats its purpose. I will go ahead with my original plan to plant some by my compost bin where it can actually do some good. Thank you for your other recommendations! In my case, summers can be scalding hot on concrete, and most of these are going to be located on concrete by the pool where they can get plenty of sun - they would likely benefit from the cooling effect.

                      • #21
                        I will be using Elfin Thyme as a companion plant for my potted figs.

                        This I learned from peppercuts - not my idea but when he showed me a pic of his fig tree with Elfin Thyme, it was too dam good not to employ!
                        California - Zone 9b

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                        • figue
                          figue commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Post some pictures when you do! I plant floxley thyme around my pomegranates and it works beautifully.

                        • Kid Fig
                          Kid Fig commented
                          Editing a comment
                          figue You got it! It really looks good.

                          Maybe peppercuts will take notice and post a pic or 2.

                      • #22
                        I have a small clover mix I’ll be putting in some of my pots as an experiment with green mulch.
                        ░░░SoCal░ ░ ͡ i ͡ ░ ░Zone░ ░9A░░░

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                        • #23
                          Having seen how dense the rootball is in a potted fig I wonder how any other plant could accomplish anything good there, unless it is something like peas which put nitrogen into the soil? I'm not even sure peas do that unless you actually plow them under.
                          Last edited by davej; 02-20-2022, 10:06 AM.
                          [Figs] -- Eastern Missouri -- Zone 6

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                          • ZomVee
                            ZomVee commented
                            Editing a comment
                            There's a specific bacteria you need to innoculate your peas with to get that nitrogen fixing action. It's easily bought, I've purchased it before at Burpie's website.

                          • ggperalta
                            ggperalta commented
                            Editing a comment
                            In my case, I’m more trying to maximize the space being used by 35 young trees in containers so that my family can benefit until they actually produce fruit and I can start to cull the collection. I’m less concerned about the benefit to the trees other than as a living mulch but want to make sure that planting some useful annual herbs won’t cause harm based on the experience of more seasoned growers. There was a lot of interesting discussion on the topic a few years ago, and it’s nice to see updates and success stories from more recent years. As it is, I will experiment with some oregano, thyme, alyssum, chives, and garlic and possibly some low growing annual flowers. Most of these are going to be encircling our swimming pool which is the sunniest part of our fenced property so anything I can do to make it “prettier” will help ensure the figs remain welcome.

                        • #24
                          I also have a ton of random plants with my figs, I doubt there's a companion boost effect to most of them.
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                          Garbanzo beans planted around my Capoll Curt Negra Click image for larger version

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                          I rooted an Adriatic JH in a pineapple pot, they seem to grow well together.
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                          Onion, cilantro and lettuce in my Petit Albique pot (the onion I just put in to get some seeds from it)
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                          SWiss Chard grew well as did the Gentille Giallo Piato in this 15 gallon.
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                          Pepper with my Ponte Tresa
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                          Pineapple, garlic, garbanzo with two Inchário Preto seedlings growing. Click image for larger version

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                          Bean and zinnia with my Rossellino pot.

                          Nothing scientific over here though ​​​
                          Attached Files
                          Tom V
                          San DiegoCa
                          Wishlist: Them esoteric figs

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                          • davej
                            davej commented
                            Editing a comment
                            I need a companion plant that will eat chipmunks.

                        • #25
                          I bought a dozen packets of herb and flower seeds to scatter in my pots.

                          Im more worried about protecting the top from the sun than losing nutrients.

                          If needed I’ll just fertilize....who am I kidding I’ll be doping everything as much as possible anyway.
                          Round Rock, TX 8b
                          WL: Delicious figs

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                          • ZomVee
                            ZomVee commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Yeah, that's why I picked up lavender, just want a woody shrub living mulch so the sun doesn't beat the soil up.

                            I'm thinking thyme might be a really good option as well.

                          • Halligan-
                            Halligan- commented
                            Editing a comment
                            ZomVee see now I need to go and get lavender today.

                            I ended up with
                            Cilantro
                            Oregano
                            Thyme
                            Sage
                            Tarragon
                            Chives
                            Lemon Balm
                            Chamomile
                            Marigolds

                            And then some other stuff for the garden

                          • Niagarafigs
                            Niagarafigs commented
                            Editing a comment
                            I was told that Roman camomile will help improve flavor of fruit planted nearby. Couldn’t hurt…likes dry conditions and only grows a few inches high…
                            Last edited by Niagarafigs; 02-21-2022, 02:45 PM.
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