This delicious fruit does best when grown in a climate with long, hot summers. If you want to grown figs in colder climate (Zones 6 & 7) then it takes a bit of insulating.
The Common Fig (Ficus carica) does not require pollination to produce fruit which is why it is the most popular choice for planting. Other fig trees have inedible fruit, unpalatable flavor or very specific pollination requirements (sometimes involving wasps and their eggs).
The fruit does not ripen after it is picked so before sure to harvest the fruits at the right time.
Figs are delicious fresh from the tree, dried, and simply processed into foods.
Popular uses for figs:
1. Get to know the variety of fig you want to plant. Sample some at farmer markets if you can. There are different flavors, sizes, and colors to choose from.
For folks in an area where it stays colder than -12 C / 10 F, choosing a cold hardy fig is key.
- Figs often like to go deep with their roots so choose a planting location with this in mind. Watch out for water systems, pipes, basement walls, etc.
- Some popular cold hardy figs are Celeste, Hardy Chicago, & King.
2. You can plant indoors with containers anytime and plant outdoors in a full sun location in early spring or late fall when the plant is mostly dormant. Figs get along with most types of soil as long it has decent drainage and organic matter.
3. For trees grown in containers:
Gently lay tree horizontally and remove the pot, cut any tight bound roots that may have encircled the pot.
Carefully and compassionately plant tree upright in a hole about 3 inches deeper and wider than container the tree was previously in. Spread roots out away from the trunk as possible without harsh bending. Water the hole and roots generously. Cover with soil so the tree is a few centimeters deeper than its previous potting.
Water: If you live somewhere where most grass is consistently green through summer then you probably don't need be concerned about watering the fig. In dry seasons/climates, a few buckets of water will help the tree out and yield better fruits.
Pruning: Remove the dead or diseased branches to encourage strongest growth.
Feeding: I have seen these guys grow and fruit wealthily with nothing but neglect but that is not what I recommend.
If grown in rich soil, you need not be concerned about fertilizing much but figs are fans of nitrogen richness. I recommend aged manure if you have access to clean stuff (no herbicides, no pesticides, no de-wormer). Chicken litter is highly potent so use sparingly when sprinkling in the under branch radius.
Protecting: Birds, squirrels, mongoose, and almost anything else will try to get a ripe fig. Sharing the goods is very nice but if you want to share them with your human associates then a net may help you out by keeping others out. Install the net as you see the flowers/fruits forming.
Harvest figs when fully colored and soft to the touch. Usually this is accompanied by a swell in size a few days before optimal ripeness. Figs are quick to perish so eat now or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Drying works well and makes for an easy, tasty, sugary snack.
Freezing figs can work well for jams and baking later.
You can can figs too.
You'll notice a unique texture inside a fresh fig. The fig is more like an internal flower than strictly fruit. I love them and I hope you enjoy them too.
Here are some recipe ideas (click for links):