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FIG

Size: 1.2m to 1.8m by 90cm to 1.2m (4 to 6ft by 3 to 4 ft) if grown in a pot.

Pollination: Self-fertile.

Climate: Subtropical to temperate.

Aspect: Sunny and sheltered.

Soil: Fertile and well-drained.

Yield: One bush is sufficient for most families.

Planting

Figs can be grown and ripened successfully in areas with a long and reasonably warm summer. Elsewhere you are best to grow a bush in a 25 cm (10 in) diameter pot and to stand this in a green-house. In fact, even outdoors you should grow your fig bush in a pot as the restriction of the pot on the fig’s roots encourages it to bear fruit. Early spring is the best time for planting. The pots can either be filled with good garden soil or a proprietary potting mixture. Outdoors your fig can be planted in an ornamental pot or tub and stood on a sunny patio. If the pot has a diameter of at least 30 cm (12 in) the fig will remain bush-shaped and grow to no more than 1.2m (4ft) tall. Alternatively you can plant your fig in a 45 cm (18 in) clay pot and sink this up to its rim in the garden soil close to a sunny wall or fence. The branches can then be fan-trained against wires at 23 cm (9 in) intervals from the ground to a height of 1.5m (5 ft). A fig trained in this way should not grow to more than 1.8m (6ft) tall. Figs need plenty of water during late spring and summer, but feeding is not required during the first couple of years. In future years the occasional liquid feed can be given in spring and early summer.

Harvesting

Gather the figs when they are soft and the skin has just begun to split.

Pruning and training

Frost-damaged and twisted shoots should be cut away in mid-spring. If you wish to train a bush to a fan shape, cut the branches to the basic shape in early mid-spring. At the end of early summer, cut off the ends of side-shoots at the fourth leaf to encourage the formation of new and further fruit-bearing side-shoots. In midsummer select new shoots which will grow parallel to the wall and, using bamboo canes as splints, tie them into the required positions.

Pests and diseases

None of any consequence.

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