When we first moved up here I had zero idea what sorts of things we could grow or not grow. I was used to planting on the coast where summer was basically perpetual and winter consisted of about a week of sweater weather in January. Selecting trees was fairly simple: if it could handle unbearable heat, constant humidity, wet ground, and daily rain showers - it would grow with not a lot of effort from me.
Being clueless, yet enthusiastic, we picked up fruit trees from local nurseries - assuming that if it could be found in a local nursery then it would grow locally. That was silly, of course.
We bought several fig trees our first year here. They grew beautifully. Then they froze solid in the winter. The following spring there was no sign of them... But by mid-summer we were excited to see new growth from the roots. Being late starting, the trees did not have long to grow - let alone bear fruit. The same thing happened the following year.
Oh. So this is how winter works. Really. That was a revelation for me. Not wanting to give up - I formulated a plan and searched around on the internet for people who had grown fig trees in places where fig trees did not want to grow.... I found some basic advice on winterizing fruit trees and ran with it.
Every fall as the nights get cold and the danger of frost approaches, we go out and strip all the leaves off the little fig trees, trim the stems back to the oldest growth, tie the branches together to form a cone, and wrap it in several layers of burlap - being sure to not leave any gaps at the bottom near the ground. The very top is left open for air flow. When there is danger of a hard freeze - we cover the entire thing with plastic contractor-sized bags.
We have been pampering our fig trees this way for three winters. Though they were faster returning in the spring - the growth was not substantial over the season... and I was beginning to think figs in NE Oklahoma were a lost cause... Until this year! Finally, the trees have grown to the point that wrapping them this year will be a challenge... and....
They are absolutely loaded with large ripening figs. It is so exciting to finally see our persistence begin to pay off!
This year I am actually looking forward to tucking our little fruit trees in for the winter - because now I know it's worth the extra effort. Now if I could figure out how to overwinter citrus trees, I will be set.....