One evening, when I was five years old, I ate an entire package of Fig Newtons. The result was entirely predictable and I never ate another one or anything containing figs until more than forty years later. As childhood traumas go, that was a mild one, and I’m very glad I decided to give figs another chance – they’re quite tasty!
As a gardener, I’m very smitten with my fig tree, Ficus carica, ‘Brown Turkey’. I like everything about it – its architecture, the color, size, and shape of the leaves, and the fruit, which has become one of my favorite garden snacks. I’ve heard people complain that the birds get all the figs before they can. I find if I keep a well stocked feeder nearby, the birds leave a lot of fruit for me. Besides, any plant that attracts wildlife into my garden is more than OK in my book. Wildlife plays a large part in my enjoyment of my garden.
Ficus carica does well in hardiness zones 7-10, so they’re very popular in the South. In colder climates, it can be kept in a pot and stored in a garage for the winter. Figs prefer full sun and will produce two crops, one in the spring on last year’s wood, and another in late summer/early fall on new wood. They tolerate pruning very well. Drought tolerant once established, they require very little care. They are also deer resistant. I’ve never fertilized mine, although I do topdress my garden with compost in early spring and mulch it in the fall. That seems to be enough for a respectable yield.
I’ve located my fig near my pond and it provides some nice shade there.
I like it in the winter because of the structure and the thick branches. This photo from last December also reminds me of how fast it grows – it’s at least twice this big now…….
My Brown Turkey Fig was my first fruit tree – a great choice for a gardener new to fruit growing. I planted it in the fall, two years ago, so this is its second full season. Last year I planted a peach tree, Prunus persica, so I’ll be looking for some fruit from that one in the next year or two.
I love growing my own food. To me, veggies are the serious food; fruit is the dessert, the reward!
“To eat figs off the tree in the very early morning, when they have been barely touched by the sun, is one of the exquisite pleasures of the Mediterranean.”
— Elizabeth David (An Omelette and a Glass of Wine)