Q. My container fig tree is about three to four years old with one-and-a-half-dozen figs, which are smallish, hard and showing no signs of ripening. It is planted in a 14x14x14” container. Could you suggest a fertilizer to help fruit ripen?
A. There’s no fertilizer that can help figs ripen. Figs come from warmer climates where they easily ripen two crops a year. Your non-ripening figs belong to this second, later crop (called the “breba” crop). Our cooler climate doesn’t give breba figs enough time to finish growing and ripen before cold weather arrives.
It’s the first crop figs that ripen easily in this climate. These are formed the previous fall on new shoots and overwinter as tiny nubs in the leaf axils. If frost hits them in winter, these tiny embryo figs die. So to get a crop at all, you should concentrate on the earlier crop.
You can do this by pruning the branches of your fig tree in June. This triggers new shoots that produce microscopic embryo figs in late fall. Then your fig tree needs to be protected from frost over winter so that the baby figs stay healthy.
Do you have your container on a stand with wheels or rollers? You may need to move your fig tree into the house when frost is predicted. Or move it as close to the house as you can and in cold snaps cover it with a thick cloth or a clear plastic frame.
Pruning your fig tree in fall or early spring will remove the branches that might have given you an early crop of figs. The root cut is a good idea since figs are very vigorous trees and yours is in a fairly small container. You’ll probably have to decide which branches to cut in June if some of the early crop are still getting ripe.
Q. Some of my tomatoes have developed black rot at the end. Also, I have a tall ornamental onion with a large flower head that turns from buds to seed. The blooms don’t open.
A. Your tomatoes have blossom end rot. This is a common tomato ailment especially in acid soils. It’s usually caused by uneven watering and/or a lack of calcium. You could try to gently scratch some lime around your tomato plants. It wouldn’t be too late for greenhouse tomatoes. It’s also important to make sure your tomato soil is gently moist all the time.
Next year dig some Dolomite lime into your future tomato bed. The alkalinity of the lime counteracts acid soil and adds calcium. Retain moisture by adding manure or compost into your planting holes and mulch the plants.
As for your ornamental allium: My guess is that your allium was in very dry soil and flowered in a blistering hot spell.
© Copyright 2013