Zone 3: Figs on the Prairies

 Overwintering a fig tree next to the foundation of a house for added warmth.

Overwintering a fig tree next to the foundation of a house for added warmth.

My friend Bernie in Edmonton, Alberta, recently sent me this photo. There’s a fig tree in there, even though you can’t see it!

The fig tree is buried in a trench alongside the foundation of his house. He covers the buried fig tree with a few bags of leaves—like a blanket to keep it even warmer. Once snow arrives, he covers it with snow for added insulation.

Bernie also has potted fig trees that he stores in the safety of his garage for the winter—a more common fig overwintering technique in his garden zone. But he enjoys experimenting with other ways to overwinter figs. (I can understand this because whenever I run out of room for overwinter figs, I try a new method, allowing me to keep even more plants!)

Why bury the fig tree beside the foundation of the house? The soil close to the foundation stays a bit warmer.

Bernie uses a max-min thermometer to track temperatures. Last winter, the temperature around his buried fig tree dropped to 2°C (36°F), while outside, the air temperature dropped as low as -36°C (-33°F).