After most of the stone fruits finish at the end of summer, it is a great
pleasure to pick and eat soft, sweet, succulent figs from your own tree and to
enjoy fig delicacies from the kitchen.
If you don’t experience frost or heavy snow where you live, figs may be
a great tree for your garden. They easy to grow, require little maintenance
and can be highly productive.
There are many ways you can eat them: jams, chutney, drying, glazing,
caramelizing, chocolate dipping, poaching, cross-cutting and stuffing with
cream and other cheeses.
If buying from a nursery (or your cuttings have rooted sufficiently), mid to
late winter is the time to plant.
Stout cuttings taken from
trees in vigorous condition are ideal. A couple of longitudinal slits made
along the lowest 50mm of each cutting with a razor blade (to just below bark
level) will aid the rooting process, which should take about 4-5 months before
they can be planted into their permanent position.
As mentioned before, mid to late winter is the time to plant
Sun, soil, watering
Figs need a warm
sunny position to do well. If protection from the hot wind of summer is
available this will help. Supplementary watering during the fruit development
period is important in areas where rainfall is scarce at this time of the
year. Water stressed plants in fruit will readily defoliate when experiencing
hot and drying conditions. A constant supply of water will also mean the
difference between picking dry, chewy fruit or ones that are soft and moist.
Figs don’t have a high fertiliser requirement to fruit well but a
generous mulch of well rotted cow manure applied to the base of the tree in
early spring will maintain plant vigor leading to large fruit.
The right variety
Not a lot of fig
varieties are readily available — maybe a dozen or so, though well over
100 have been listed back through history. Presumably, in the culture of the
day, varieties that were considered unattractive were discarded. Your local
plant supplier can advise you on the best varieties. There is quite a
difference in tree size, (an important consideration when netting trees
against birds) fruiting times, fruit size, color and suitability for jam
making and other culinary uses between varieties.