Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Good, the Bad & the Great


Remember my last post when I said that our good weather was supposed to last?  I should know better than to trust the long range forecast.  We are now in the midst of a cold trough with chilly days and some nights approaching the freezing mark...again.  Spring, where are you??

Anyhow, on to the good.  I took my fig trees out of the cold cellar back in early March and within a week, buds had developed.

Fig trees on March 12,
one week after coming out of the cold cellar


Buds were an encouraging sight
Frankly, I was quite surprised - I didn't expect them to leaf out that quickly.

And then, about 2.5 weeks after taking them out of the cold cellar, there was another unexpected surprise on one of the trees…actual, honest-to-goodness figs.
 
Baby figs on Mar 20
I was so excited!  But all of that excitement fizzled in the past couple of weeks, which is where the bad comes in.  While our chilly weather does indeed fall under the "bad" category, it was unfortunately not what I was referring to in the title of this post.

Firstly, the 3 baby figs that were on the tree shriveled up and fell off.  So sad.  I’m not sure why that was – perhaps the tree was still too small to support them or I didn’t water them enough.  I use a water sensor probe to check the moisture in the pots and they seemed to be ok, but sometimes the probe gives me erroneous readings depending on where in the pot I place it.

Also under the "bad" category is something else that was completely my fault.  I have been placing the figs outside for a limited amount of time on nice days.  No problem....until I completely forgot about them and left them outside all day a couple of times.  The result?  Many of the leaves ended up with a sunburn.  Oops.

And, since bad things come in threes (don’t they?), I noticed that some of the leaves on the plant had a decidedly odd look.  This was completely unrelated to the sunburn as I started to see this before the plants were placed outside:

Some leaves developed a mottled look,
long before I started to place the plants outside.
It seems that my trees have a virus – Fig Mosaic Virus, to be precise.  When I looked this up, I found a lot of contradicting information about it.  Some sites indicate that ALL fig trees have this virus and how they are ultimately affected is a matter of variety, while others state that only some trees are infected.

What I do know with certainly is that both of my trees have it.  Since this is obviously a widespread problem and I may never be able to get a virus free tree anyhow, I’m going to carry on and see how my plants do.  I’ve seen some people indicate that the first flush of leaves on their tree would show signs of the virus but with some tender lovin’ care, this disappeared as the plants grew over the summer.  Fingers crossed that this will be the case with my figs.

Figs on April 28
Yes, I feel bad for them too, with their sunburned/virus infected leaves.  But as with most things, sometimes it takes me a while to settle in on a method and/or routine.  I’m fairly confident that I can turn things around, so long as the virus doesn't do too much harm.

Ok, my fig tree blunders seem to confirm that I am still decidedly challenged when it comes to caring for potted plants.  But there is hope.  Look at this guy, who I've had for over a year now (even that is a miracle!) and has finally flowered:

Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana in bud

Flowers revealed
Looks like I’m not a totally lost cause after all :)

So that definitely falls under the "great" category.  But I have one more, which is beyond great, in my mind.  I was practically dancing around the backyard yesterday after I saw this:

Hurray - It's alive!
Finally!  I was really starting to get worried as I kept hearing everyone remark how their asparagus was up and I didn’t see any signs of mine yet.

Peaking out amongst the straw
Only a few spears have broken the surface so far, but they look nice and thick.

The most advanced spear so far
Unfortunately, I won’t be harvesting any this year – I want these babies to send all of their energy into developing a nice, big root system so that we can maximize future harvests.

Now all I have to do is muster up some willpower so that I can resist picking "just one" :)

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

32 comments:

  1. So sad about your figs! Hopefully they will recover. I killed my fig tree last year, unfortunately. But in the years that I had it, I experienced a similar sudden dying off of the leaves and fruit that you've described. While not an expert (as evidenced by how I ultimately killed my fig), I always felt that sometimes it would send out leaves and start producing fruit before it was really ready to and that's why the fruit and leaves would die off.

    And CONGRATULATIONS on your asparagus! They look great, much thicker than I would expect for first year spears.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer - the asparagus is so exciting! I'm amazed at how thick those stalks are considering they were skinnier than blades of grass when I started them last spring.

      I'm sort of regretting getting the figs out of the cold cellar so early, especially with the incredibly late spring we've had. They are not getting the best light right now as they have to share space in front of one side of a French door (as we go in and out of the other side), so I'm sure that isn't helping either.

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  2. Oh, that's gotta be hard---resisting those spring morsels (asparagus)
    I ordered my first set this year--they'll arrive in late May. I hope mine turn out as well as yours.

    The figs would be a mystery to me. I'm glad you'll let them continue on. Who knows-perhaps they will adjust to the virus with no further problems.
    Happy Spring, Margaret

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    1. It is SO darn hard!! I keep thinking to myself...one little nibble won't hurt. We'll have to wait and see if my discipline holds up as more spears appear.

      Yes, the figs are a bit of mystery to me too as I know relatively little about growing them. I'm hoping that once I get a nice topping of compost on the soil & they go outside for the summer, they will bounce back.

      I hope you are having better weather than we are!

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  3. The amount of leafy growth in such short period of time on your figs is amazing. Even with their viral troubles the plants look great. I've always wondered about people giving their plants aspirin water and such as immune boosters but have never tried such a thing myself.

    Your asparagus spears are looking amazing. I have to admit I ended up digging my asparagus up and giving all the plants away. I was planning on moving them to the front yard but we're getting the foundation worked on this spring. They were actually waist high in March before my husband mowed them down.

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    1. I'd not heard of aspirin water, although I have heard of using aspirin in the garden, I think it related to planting tomatoes. Now that I know about this disease and how widespread it is, I'll have to look into getting a resistant variety or one that at least is able to withstand the virus, if my current plants don't end up making it.

      Oh, that's too bad about the asparagus, but sometimes you have to make tough choices. What a shame it would have been to put all that work into moving the asparagus only to have it all ripped up when you did the work on the house.

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  4. Gosh, I'd like to send you some figs, they grow like weeds around here, in nooks and crannies everywhere. Where do the seeds come from? Birds?

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    1. Oh, don't say that! Such jealousy, I feel! Figs are one of my favourite fruits - fresh figs that is. I'll take those types of "weeds" anyday :)

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  5. Congratulations on the Asparagus and the Kalanchoe blooms ... and the Figs! I'll bet they'll be back on the mend soon with the warm weather that's just around the corner (and with your TLC)! :)

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    1. Thanks Beth! I'm cautiously optomistic about the figs. They haven't been growing in the best conditions, being stuck inside for a good chunk of the time, and they don't look all that bad, considering.

      The Kalanchoe blooms are such a milestone for me. I've had such a hard time keeping houseplants alive since I had kids - just didn't have the head for them, I suppose. But I think I'm finally getting over "mommy brain" - it's obviously taken me longer than most ;)

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  6. I'm curious what type of figs you are growing. My figs are in the ground in full sun. Of course, I'm in a different zone but I've not heard that all figs have this virus. Asian Ambrosia beetle laid eggs in the branches of our fig last year which results in the death of the tree. I heavily pruned it over the winter to see if I could get one last crop from it this year. There are always trials and tribulations in the garden I suppose. Congrats on your asparagus! That is super exciting.

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    1. Unfortunatley, I have no idea what variety these fig trees are. I purchased them during a weak moment at a nursery sale last year & they only had one of those generic "hardy fig" labels...don't you just hate when they do that? I'm sure the grower knows what variety they're growing, so how hard would it be to slap a variety label on the tag?

      Figs aren't hardy around here, but I have heard of a method where a tree is planted in the ground and then "tipped over" in the fall and covered with straw or mulch, etc. A bit too much of a process for me at the moment, but something that I can see myself trying in a few years.

      And that's so sad about your fig tree - fingers crossed that you are able to get a crop out of it this summer (and perhaps plant a few more?)

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  7. I have a Fig tree that is just coming into bud. I will be inspecting the leaves VERY closely! I'm amazed that a virus like that can be so widespread and still not have a cure.
    I hope you can resist the temptation to cut the Asparagus, because letting it build up its energy will be so worthwhile in the long run.

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    1. The info on the virus is a bit confusing, especially as some of it is contradictory. Some sites say you have to live with it while others say you should burn the trees!

      I'll do my best to hold back on the asparagus - visions of those large, future harvests should help me with that :)

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  8. It's cold here - Spring has gone on holiday. Just hoping it hasn't emigrated.

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    1. You said it - I just hope our summer is a bit more consistent than this spring has been!

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  9. I knew what those last photos were about at a glance. Yippee for asparagus! As for waiting, you know your patience will be rewarded in the years to come. Too bad about the fig problems though. I grew them in the ground here, but the figs fruited so late in the season I barely got any to eat before the first frost/freeze. I think container growing would be better for me, but in the end I decided I had plenty of other stuff I liked better than figs.

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    1. I knew you would know without reading the text - your asparagus harvests are an inspiration to us aspiring asparagus growers! It's so exciting - I keep going over to the bed - several times a day at that! - to see if any more spears are out.

      Dealing with the fig pots is a pain, that's for sure, especially with all these ins and outs because of our wacky weather. I just hope that I eventually get a few figs for all my troubles!

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  10. That's brilliant news about the asparagus but I bet you'll need a lot of willpower to prevent you picking any, it will be worth it to have nice strong plants though. I hope your figs are okay, you might find that new leaves don't show any signs of the virus. I've just got buds on my little tree at the moment but I shall be looking at them very carefully now you've brought this to my attention. As for the weather, well, our days are consisting of sun, rain, hail and snow at the moment, it really can't make up its mind what to do, though it's bitterly cold today, I do wish it would warm up, we're nearly in to May for goodness sake.

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    1. Our weather seems to be so similar lately - although we haven't had any snow lately, which is a bit of a roll reversal! Bitterly cold is right - not much gardening is happening outside in the past few days and anything I did do was done with a winter jacket on (hood pulled up!).

      I am SO very excited about the asparagus; having grown them from seed, they were such fragile little things at this time last year - it's amazing how "chubby" they are now! Only a few have come up so far, so I'm anxiously waiting to see if the rest of them did as well.

      I didn't even realize you had a fig tree - you should give us a look-see in a post at some point!

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  11. Nice job on the fig trees. I kept my tree in the garage over the winter. It had windows and the light triggered the buds to leaf out long before it was safe to move it outside, so the first foliage was weak and spindly. The first set of figs would typically drop like yours did and the second setting would not ripen before frost killed the foliage. A lot of work for no figs so one fall I just left it outside for the winter. End of fig story, but I don't remember seeing any mottled leaves. And the asparagus is looking great.

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    1. Thanks Dave! The figs can be a lot of work, especially now as I constantly move them back and forth. Worth it if there's a sweet reward though. The garage would definitely be an easier spot to place the figs over the winter than lugging them down into the basement, but I didn't even attempt that as ours goes well below freezing with our cars always going in and out. We have windows in there too so, based on your experience, it wouldn't have been a good spot regardless.

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  12. Glad to see you will be getting asparagus whereas I am getting tired of eating mine! LOL Sure hope those fig trees straighten up and produce for you! I don't seem to do well growing things in pots either. I put them out too long, too little or forget them! Nancy

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    1. Tired of eating asparagus? I'll be right over to help you out ;) Dave (Our Happy Acres) freezes his excess and then enjoys it over the winter, so that's an option of you are truly tired of it.

      My biggest problem with pots is forgetting to water them. I've implemented a bit of a schedule for watering the indoor plants (instead of just "whenever I remembered to check") and it has worked out much better!

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  13. I tried a couple of fig trees a few years back. They overwintered in the cold room the first year then the second winter I decided to just let them grow in the living room. Didn't matter because in their third spring, never having seen a single fig, I burnt them up in the sun. Then I gave up. I probably could have saved them as I'm sure you will yours, but I just couldn't be bothered anymore. Ah well.

    Congrats on the asparagus, Margaret! I get to actually harvest as much as I want finally after 4 years of taking it easy.

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    1. Sometimes you just get to that point. I recall when I tried to overwinter some peppers and they were attacked by aphids. I'm sure if I took a few hours to thoroughly go over every surface of the plants with insecticidal soap, etc., I may have been able to save them, but like you, I was at the point where I couldn't be bothered.

      And you are MORE than patient waiting all that time for your first asparagus harvest...how exciting! Can't wait to hear all about it!

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  14. Congratulations on your asparagus! Our asparagus hasn't popped up yet. I'm beginning to have my doubts.

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    1. Thanks A.J. - I'm super excited, but it's still a ways to go before we can actually harvest any and we all know how things can change in the blink of an eye in the garden. Fingers crossed that you see yours coming up soon!

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  15. I've never grown figs so I have no advice to offer but maybe it will all turn out ok in the end. :o)

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    1. Fingers crossed! Right now, they look ok - not great, but not too bad either. Just wish the weather would cooperate so that I could stop with the back and forth, indoors/outdoors routine!

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  16. Last year my asparagus was in its first full year, like yours is now, and I did the same thing, just let it grow. This year I've harvested at most a pound. It hasn't been very productive so far and I have let the thin spears develop while picking the thick spears. Oh, but they are good, far better than anything in the store. I certainly feel like an asparagus novice at this point. Good luck with yours.

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    1. Thanks! I think that a new planting takes a few years to hit it's stride, so I would consider 1 lb. at this early stage in the season for a 2nd year planting not too bad at all! Oh, and you have me REALLY anticipating that first harvest - we've had so many "revelation" veg in the past couple of years where it was amazing how delicious they were compared to their supermarket look-a-likes. I have a feeling asparagus will join that group next year...yum yum.

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