Sunday, 10 November 2013

Tips on how to grow Figs

In my hunble opinion there are only two ways you should consider growing figs.
One is in containers.
Two is against a warm wall.
Both methods encourage the production of luscious tasty fruit that will ripen well.
If you just ‘plant’ a fig, even in a favoured aspect, it will probably grow, and grow, and grow and make a nice handsome tree and yes, you will get fruit but it won’t compensate for the space it has taken up!
The first method, to container grow, works because it restricts the roots. This is a good thing for Figs which otherwise like to act like exuberant small childred. Containerising a fig curbs it’s tropical growth tendencies, resulting in a very dwarfing tree like specimen which devotes it’s energies to producing beautiful pear shaped fruits. They don’t even like being fed too much under such circumstances. I would recommend a 24” tub and a good laom beased compost and away you go. Plenty of water too is key, especially as the fruits swell. Remember to provide some frost protection overwinter if you are growing in a container. Just throw some horticultural fleece over the whole thing or move it to a cold conservatory or greenhouse for a few of the worst weeks. You don’t have to do this – figs are essentially hardy, but if you inspect your fig in late Autumn you will notice a multitude [hopefully] of tiny figlets clustered all over the stems. It is these you want to protect – next year’s bountiful harvest just waiting to happen.
For the second method you need a good, warm and sunny south or west facing wall. The planting hole needs to be de-fertilized to coin a word! Add some rubble or broken bricks, make it poor. This has the same effect as pot growing. It will curb the growth a bit [although with a free root run the tree will soon cover that wall anyway] but you will get better crops. Another good idea is to dig out a 24” deep hole and line it with paving slab pieces. Infil with poorish soil. Plant – water lots until established – and await your bounty!
There isn’t a huge list of hardy fig varieties for the UK. Brown Turkey continues to command about 95% of the market and is the best most reliable choice. It has good flavour and a glossy burgundy-brown and green colouring. But you can also seek out
White Marseilles – a lovely variation with pale green-white super sweet fruits. And
Dalmatie or Nour de Bourgeoine – both with intoxicating dark flesh and a rich juicy flavour.
Remmeber you can if you have a mind, grow Figs permanently in a cool greenhouse or conservatory and this might be an especially good idea if you live far ‘up north’.

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