It all started at the Horse Brass… Jay and I were sitting around a table of friends the other night when his buddy, Blair, offered up his fig tree to us. He was even willing to throw in some bamboo he had thinned out recently as well. The fig tree was great, but he had other plans for that part of the yard and there would be no more room for the pretty tree. I just about climbed over the table shouting “We’ll take it!!!” After moving two dwarf cherry trees from my mom’s house, somehow I figured moving a 15 foot fig tree in June would maybe be the same amount of work.

(That assumption was not really correct. Digging up a mature, 15 foot fig tree is a lot more work. And the hole is much bigger.)

I know very well that the best time to transplant a tree is while it is dormant. Of the four seasons of the year, I am well aware that summer is the worst time to move a tree. You would think I would go into this with some guarded hope then, right? Not so much… The thought of adding a mature fruit tree to our barely developing food forest was too much temptation.

We started the day by announcing to the tree that this would most likely be the worst day of its life. Shovels in hand, we went to work and about 4-5 hours later the tree was uprooted and ready to be moved. It was thrown on the back of Blair’s truck and we made the bizarre looking drive to our house. It was like a moving forest – pretty interesting looks from passers-by.

The fig tree in a nut shell is simply gorgeous: Beautiful grey bark, lovely lines, and very tall and slender. Prior to its move, the tree was so happy it had completely covered itself with lovely figs, all ready to develop into tasty treats. It pained me, but I removed each and every fig from the tree before we put it in the ground. My thought was the tree needs to focus energy on growing roots, not developing fruit. I think that was a good call.
It has now been a couple weeks and I think the fig tree hates us very much. Its leaves are totally wilted. They are still green, but severely crinkled and possibly one short step from falling off completely. We have talked to our friends at Portland Nursery several times and they gave us good advice which led us to buy some B1 vitamin stuff that is suppose to encourage root development (Scroll down here and there is a picture of it with details).

I have to say, it feels really terrible to know you might ruin something that was so majestic and happy before you entered the picture… Our hopes are not guarded at all. Everyday we check on the tree and lovingly feed it some water and vitamins, hoping it will forgive and forget. We were just so suckered into the idea of an already-mature fig tree at our finger tips and couldn’t resist the urge to disrupt its life for our benefit.

Keep your fingers crossed for us and feel free to share any bright ideas you might have! We can sure use them…

UPDATE: The fig tree survived! The leaves did crinkle and fall off. But I kept periodically watering it, and used the B1 rooting fertilizer from the plant store. By late-August we saw signs of life. This summer it has lovely leaves and baby figs on it!

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