The Fig harvest season is in full swing, and this is great news because the sweet rich flavor of figs, combined with their soft pulp and crunchy seeds make for an irresistible treat that can’t be manufactured. Figs come from nature and ripen to have an all-natural, organic flavor that’s full of nutritional benefits.
However, fresh figs are hard to find in grocery stores due to their short s
helf life. Most stores only carry dried figs, which are still amazing, but they aren’t as magical as fresh figs, picked right from the tree.
Luckily figs are one of the easiest fruits to grow at home, either in a container indoors or planted in the ground. Here are a few tricks of the trade to ensure tons of large and juicy figs.
For The Most Figs:
For big succulent fruit your fig trees will need to get as much sun as possible. While fig trees can tolerate partial shade, you’ll have the best results if the trees are placed in full sun.
Container trees should be taken outside to sit in the sun during the warmer months, and placed by a large sunny window when kept inside.
Protect your trees from the cold. In the winter cover your tree with burlap to protect it from frost and spread an insulating material like mulch or pine straw around the bases of your trees to keep the roots warm. Keep in mind that fig trees are tropical trees, so they like to stay warm.
Fig trees also like to stay dry. Avoid placing your tree in an area that’s prone to flooding, or that collects standing water. While fig trees will need supplemental water during the growing season, they like to stay dry in the winter and fall. Check on your soil every few days, once its dry about 2 inches below the surface then it’s time give your tree more water. The soil should be moist, not saturated. Trees kept in containers often dry out faster than ones planted in the ground.
Usually fig trees don’t need any fertilizer unless that you know your lawn is lacking in nutrients. You can see how much nutrients are in your soil with a basic soil tester that can be found in your local gardening store. Trees kept in containers need fertilizer more often than trees planted in the ground. To fertilize your fig trees give them a slow release fertilizer that’s well balanced like formula 10-10-10 or 8-8-8 once in the spring and fall.
Pruning your trees in the winter while it’s dormant can greatly increase the amount of fruit that they will yield. With a clean and sterile pair of loppers or hand pruners remove any dead or broken branches, then clear a few branches away from the center of the tree. This will allow more sunlight and air to circulate through the canopy. Remove any branches growing vertically, because those are waterspouts that hold water. Fruiting branches grow out laterally.
Remove any growths springing up from the base of the tree. These growths are known as suckers and they will steal nutrients from the trunk of your tree. To remove them, treat them as weeds by taking a firm grip on them and pulling them upwards out of the ground.
We currently only carry self-pollinating fig varieties, so you won’t have to worry about finding a mate for your tree, or rely on nature to get pollen spread from a male flower to a female flower. You’ll have a reliable crop of figs year after year.
Watch out for hungry critters! Don’t let them get to your figs before you do. Humans aren’t the only species that have figured out that figs are delicious. Deer and birds are notorious fig eaters that feel as if they have won the lottery if they find a tree with bountiful fruit. Keep birds away with a simple bird net and keep deer away by placing natural repellents or a wire fence around your tree.
How to Harvest:
Know your harvest time. Many fig trees produce fruit that ripens in the late summer and early fall, so it’s good to know where your tree falls on the timeline. Harvest times aren’t an exact science, because fig trees in warmer climates have the potential to fruit earlier than trees in colder seasons.
Figs taste their absolute best once they ripen because this is when their juice tastes the sweetest. If you harvest your figs too early they might be bitter and dry. However, you also don’t want to wait too late to harvest or the fruit could go bad!
The trick is to wait until your figs fully turn their mature color. Some figs have shades of rust-brown, some have dark purple hues, and others stay green. Also, look at the neck of the fruit, if it has a slight bend instead of sticking straight out then your figs are ready to be harvested.
Figs can be stored in a refrigerator for about a week, and they should be placed there once their skin starts to wrinkle or develop creases. If figs are dried either by sitting in the sun for a few hours or in a dehydrator they can be stored for months.
It’s The Most Figgiest Time Of The Year!
Don’t miss out on the delicious fig season when you can grow your own rich juicy fruit in your own back yard. While dried figs are great they don’t even hold a candle to fresh ones. Fall is a great time to plant; so don’t hesitate to get your fig trees planted today!