Tag Archives: figs

Fig Tree In Your Garden… It’s Possible

Figs are one of the oldest cultivated crops and were enjoyed by the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. They are a semi-tropical tree that is easy to grow in areas with long, hot summers.

Fig is a deciduous, small tree or bush like, usually growing 8 to 20 feet tall, In cooler zones often more bush like than tree like, with large, lobed, deep green leaves. The first crop of fruit in spring is called the “breba” crop, maturing from buds set on last years growth. The main crop that follows in the fall(this years growth) matures on the new growth made that summer. In cooler parts of the U.S. the breba crop is sometimes lost to late spring frosts.

There are a number of fig varieties adapted to different regions of the country.
Good varieties include:
These are Self-Pollinating and you will not need a second tree for a pollinator tree.
zones 5-10, ‘Chicago Hardy’.
zones 6-11, ‘Brown Turkey’
zones 7-10, ‘Celeste’
This is 3 of the most common varieties sold in nursery’s.

Set out new trees in spring. Set bare root trees atop a small mound of soil in the center of the planting hole, and spread the roots down and away without unduly bending them. Identify original planting depth by finding color change from dark to light as you move down the trunk towards the roots.

Container grown(potted) trees, remove the plant from its pot and eliminate circling roots by laying the root ball on its side and cutting through the roots with shears.

Young trees need regular watering while they are getting established, and established trees in dry climates will need deep watering at least every week or two. A deep layer of mulch over the root zone will help to conserve moisture.

Figs generally don’t need much pruning to be productive. Shape trees lightly during the dormant season and remove dead, diseased, broken or crossing branches.

In the northern parts of the U.S. figs may benefit from frost protection. In late fall, tie the tree’s branches up to make it more compact, fashion a cage of chicken wire around the tree and fill it with dry straw for insulation. Wrap the outside of the cage with layers of burlap and plastic. Remove the wrappings and straw in spring just before new growth begins and after the danger of hard frost.

Fruits should be completely ripe before they are picked. Ripe figs will be fully colored, starting to bend over at the neck and will be slightly soft. Pick them with the stem still attached. Fresh figs will keep in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days.

Hint Eat whole. Figs have a mildly sweet taste and can be enjoyed fresh and on their own.
The skin of the fig is edible. You do not need to peel the fig before eating it. Merely twist off the stem and eat the fig skin and all.
If you do not like the texture of the skin, you can peel it off before eating the fig. After twisting off the stem, carefully use your fingers to peel away the skin starting from the exposed top.

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Growing Figs – Planting To Harvest (pt2)

Fig Tree Figs are easy to grow even as far north as USDA zone 5.
Do your homework. Select only varieties that are cold hardy in your USDA climate zone. Decide if you want to plant directly in your garden soil or in patio container(s).

No matter what the nursery sales person say’s, even self fertile types will produce more reliably and produce more fruit if you have at least two(2) figs planted within 20 feet of each other. Six(6) to ten(10) feet apart is better.

In USDA zones 5, 6 and 7 container grown figs are not as winter hardy as garden planted figs. To survive harsh winters containers must be moved indoors to locations that will prevent your figs root system from freezing.
Garden planted figs will benefit from a heavy layer of mulch applied after your first hard freeze. Hint Celeste, Brown Turkey, Hardy Chicago, Brunswick, Marseilles, and Osborne are some of the most winter hardy cultivars.

* Figs grown as a bush or shrub are easier to protect than those in a tree form.
* Pliable branches can be pinned to the ground and covered with burlap, old blankets or tarps.
* Some growers encircle their fig plant with chicken wire and fill in with insulating leaves, and straw. The top of the plant can be covered with a plastic tarp to shed rain, sleet, and snow.
* In the spring, remove the winter protection after all danger of frost.

Figs have a shallow root system. It is best Not to distrube soil under fig trees. Mulch to control weeds and to help retain soil moisture.

In the spring prune out ground suckers and remove all dead or weak wood. Mature plants usually have 3 to 8 main stems.
Caution Your skin may become irritated from contact with the milky, latex plant sap.

Figs require Full Sun, rich well drained soils whether in containers or garden planted. In heavy clay based soils consider planting your figs in raised beds amended with well rotted compost and peat moss. In containers the addition of perlite or vermiculite will enhance soil drainage.

Figs in containers, keep figs in full sun and water regularly. When fruits begin to form apply 2 to 3 gallons of water each day.
Harvesting Hint Figs do not ripen off the plant, so they should not be picked until they are fully colored and slightly soft.

Figs as with all trees do need to be fertilized from time to time. Do Not apply a high nitrogen fertilizer to your fig trees. Use a N-P-K fertilizer like 5-10-5 or similar ratio fertilizer. In my opinion it is best to apply fertilizer at 1/4 to 1/2 it’s recommended rate. Apply fertilized when you see buds forming and again every 8 to 10 weeks until your harvest ends or your first frost.

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Growing Figs – USDA Hardiness Zones 5 To 9 (pt1)

figs Figs are not restricted to the tropics. Some Varieties of Fig will grow and over winter as far north as USDA zone 5 and as far south as USDA zone 9.

LSU Gold Fig Is a large golden fruit with a ruby blush. Fruit ripens from a light green to attractive yellow. Pulp is light red to pink. Ripe fruit has excellent, sweet fig flavor. Delectable when eaten fresh, but also dries well. This tree is a fast growering and a heavy producer.
Louisiana State University introduction.
Grow in USDA zones 7 to 9.
Grows well in containers.
Heat tolerant fruit ripens in July.
Self-pollinating.

LSU Purple Fig Grows glossy purple fruit, enjoy fresh or dried! Fruit is medium sized with a mild flavor, high sugar content, and white flesh. The pulp is light amber to light red when ripe.
Highly productive.
Pest and disease resistant.
Louisiana State University introduction. Hardy in USDA zones 7 to 9.
Grows well in containers.
Heat tolerant. Ripens from July through frost.
Self-pollinating.

Celeste Fig Hardy USDA zones 6 to 9.
Sweet with a smooth rich flavor. Fruit has violet skin and rose colored flesh. Fruit is consumed fresh, also dries well. Closed eye, when ripe helps resist splitting and souring. One of the most widely planted fig trees. Needs winter protection in USDA zones 6 and 7.
Grows well in containers.
Heat tolerant. Ripens in July.
Self-pollinating.

Chicago Hardy Fig hardy USDA zones 5 to 9.
Productive and easy to grow. Bears medium size figs. Drought tolerant once established. Plant will die back in colder climates and resume growth in spring.
Has tendency to bear fruit on new growth. Fruit produced on the old wood will appear in early summer and fruit on new growth will appear in early fall. Fruit has a dark mahogany color. (aka Bensonhurst Purple fig.)
Originates from Sicily.
Grows well in containers.
Heat and drought tolerant. Ripens in July through frost.
Self-pollinating.

Brown Turkey Fig Harty USDA zones 5 to 9.
Is a classic, all purpose fig. Fruit is delicious fresh and in preserves. Dried figs make tasty snacks all year long.
Tree needs protection when temperatures drop below 10ºF.
Needs minimal pruning and may yield 2 distinct crops in locations with a long, warm growing season.
Grows well in containers.
Heat tolerant. Ripens in June.
Self-pollinating.

UK gardeners, the Royal Horticulture Society(RHS) recommends:
‘Brown Turkey’: The classic fig for British gardens, heavy cropping, producing a mass of tasty fruit. Suitable outdoors or in containers.
* Brunswick’: Hardy and good for growing outdoors, with large, sweet fruit.
* White Marseilles’: Large fruit with sweet, translucent flesh. Ideal for growing in containers and outdoors, it produces two crops per year under glass.
* Osbourne Prolific’: Delicious dark purple fruit. For greenhouse cultivation – except in warmer climates.
* Rouge de Bordeaux’: One of the finest for flavor. Needs a warm, sheltered site or conservatory.

Australia Gardeners may want to consider:
* Adam: a large San Pedro type tree usually producing a useful Breba crop around Christmas time in SA and a major crop (which requires cross pollination with a Capri fig) in Feb. Skin is red to purple and pulp champagne to pink coloured
* White Adriatic: an early fig suited to cooler areas like the Adelaide Hills, one crop which ripens February, medium to large fruit, brownish-green skin and pink flesh, excellent fresh and very good for jam. A spreading tree
* Deanna: a large fig suited to the fresh market, green to golden skin with pink pulp, very popular in the USA
* Archipal: a large greenish-yellow fig with a very thin, edible skin and honey-coloured flesh. Early to mid season. One of our best and most reliable bearers at The Food Forest, but splits catastrophically in strong summer rains
* Flanders: a shy bearer, but good quality green skinned fruit with pink flesh
* Black Genoa (San Piero): a medium sized, pear-shaped fruit, purplish skin and red flesh, good for fresh eating but not suitable for drying. Vigorous tree, ripens Dec-Feb
* White Genoa: mid season and good in cool areas with large greenish-yellow fruit with amber flesh, good fresh eating variety and favoured for jam making. Light crop in Dec and more in Feb-Mar, unique flavour
* Preston: seems to have trouble maturing Dec-April, somewhat hairy, large green-brown fruit, white flesh, vigorous grower, high quality fruit resistant to splitting
* Brown Turkey: medium sized, late season (March), brownish striped fruit with pinkish flesh. Excellent for jam. Second crop is main crop. Hardy tree
* Spanish Dessert: late maturing, spectacular dark purple skin and dark red flesh. It has an initially distressing habit of dropping large numbers of figlets on the ground, to the point that you think the tree will lose its whole crop, but as the tree settles down it bears good crops. It has rather luxurious dark green leaves making it a lovely landscape feature
* Yellow Ischi: Small, possibly useable for jam
Excel: small, early season, light yellow skin, amber flesh, limited value for commercial market because of yields but good flavour for fresh eating
* Celeste: commercial variety in USA, violet skin, pink coloured, firm flesh, fairly cold-hardy. Very reliable cropper at The Food Forest
* Persian Prolific: strong grower, mid season fruit, light purple skin and honey coloured flesh
* Cape White: early maturing, ripens Jan, medium-sized fruit, green skin, cream coloured flesh. Great for jam, compact tree
* Smyrna: golden yellow skin and red pulp characterise this special drying, glazing, jam-making fig. It requires cross pollination (caprification) with the Capri fig

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