Un-Bury a Fig Tree




Introduction: Un-Bury a Fig Tree

Here is a follow-up to my other Instructable about burying a fig tree.
I do this to ensure they survive the harsh Michigan winters. In general, I bury mine after a frost knocks the leaves off, and dig them up in mid-late May after the danger of frost is gone. Halloween and Mother's Day are good reference times.

Step 1: Locate Your Tree

In the first Instructable, I showed how to cover the tree in insulating materials. The tires and straw bales did a good job holding the leaves down, and provided a place for the snow to hold on to.

Step 2: Gently Remove the Insulating Layer

Scrape the leaves away, and use a shovel to remove the thicker layer of dirt. Be careful not to injure the tree with the shovel! Once you get to the plastic, use your hands to pull it away. Holes in the plastic let water and air into the branch area, while preventing the dirt from encasing the branches.
The ends of the branches will have buds and tiny fig balls on them. Don't worry if there is a lot of mud or mold on the branches - that will dry out. The tree is very resilient.

Step 3: Inspect the Tree

Here is what the tree will have on it - buds and tiny green figs. Some branches may get broken or otherwise die on their own. As long as you have a good root ball, more branches will grow.

Step 4: Stand It Up

With the shovel, dig under the root ball so that it falls slightly into a hole when you stand the tree up. If you don't, the ball will sit too high and won't get enough water.

Stand the tree up, being careful to minimize how many branches you break. Don't worry - the tree will be fine.

At this point, you can take a shovel, hatchet or mattok and cut vertically through the root ball to separate it into 2 or more trees. Share a tree with a friend, and give them a link to these Instructables!

Step 5: Fill and Fluff

Take the dirt and cover the root ball. there will be exposed roots all around - tuck them down and cover them. Fill the ditch loosely with some leaves and dirt, which will make it easier to dig in next time.

Cover the ground around the base of the tree with a thick layer of leaves to hold in moisture.

Untie the rope and fluff the branches. they will dry out and find their own shape.

Step 6: Let It Grow!

The figs are ripe when they turn reddish and are soft. The bottom will start to open up. They tend to ripen very fast and not at the same time, so keep checking them. Ants love the bottoms when they start to open because they leak sweet juice.

Pull a ripe fig off the tree, peel the skin off and pop it in your mouth. The seeds are like strawberry seeds, so they won't bother you. They gave a very sweet, unique taste. Enjoy!

My neighbor gave me this tree about 15 years ago when it was about 3 feet tall, so you can see how fast they grow using this technique. I've moved it 3 times, and will be cutting the root ball this year so it stays a manageable size.

Step 7: The Other Tree

Here are some pics of the other tree...

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    4 years ago

    You have no ideea how useful is this for me. I'm from Romania / Europe. Usualy, we use corn stalks or things like those to protect the figs. My problem is rodents (mouses, rats) who use this as shelter over the winter and eat the fig bark. I will check if the soil is fozen and, if is not, i will apply your ideea this weekend. Many thanks. Apologise for my english.


    Reply 4 years ago

    We have snakes to control rodents in the summer, but no problems when buried. Let us know how it works out!
    Your English is better than many here in America!


    4 years ago

    I never heard of anybody burying their fig trees every year. Isn't there a different way to both protect the tree and not bury it. Maybe you could build a Plexiglas shelter for it and forego the yearly ritual. Just seems like a lot of work.


    Reply 4 years ago

    This is how my Italian neighbor showed me to do it. It IS a lot of work, so years without a lot of figs are disappointing.

    One year, I brought two small trees inside. They decided to bloom and produce figs in December, but the fruit didn't get ripe. That was even more work...