Growing Figs


Figs are sometimes called the lazy man’s fruit. In the southern counties they thrive well, especially if given the protection of a wall.

Soil should be poor and well , drained, with an ample quantity of lime and plenty of water given when the fruit swells. Very little pruning is needed, but trees growing too rampantly may be root pruned. The tree forms two crops of fruit each year, but only the autumn crop ripens in this climate; the fruit is ready for picking when it turns brownish purple and parts’easily from the branch. Birds are very fond of the fruit and sometimes ruin most of the fruit by pecking at each one. ‘

Growing FigsFigs grown on walls are usually fan trained and need a certain amount of pruning; restricted root growth will counteract the tendency to form too much leaf.

The variety Brown Turkey is most frequently grown, though Negro Largo and White Marseilles are also often seen in gardens.


Soil and Situation. Figs require a sheltered, sunny position and well-drained, not over-rich soil. They are more usually grown under glass than outdoors, but will succeed in the open in the south and south west. Manure should be used sparingly when preparing the ground. A little ground chalk or mortar rubble may be worked in.

Planting. This may be done at any time during the dormant period, but is best early.

Forms of Training. Wall trees and those grown under glass are generally trained as fans. Trees in the open are allowed to form large bushes or even make half-standards.

Pruning. Figs bear on onet and twotyeartold stems. In spring and early summer rub off badly placed shoots and in June pinch those well placed for tying in. These will produce side growths which will carry the next year’s crop.

Thin overcrowded growth in July and cut out weak shoots the following March. In July and August sturdy side growths are shortened to five or six well-developed leaves each. If trees make excessive growth and are unfruitful they are root pruned in October or early November.

Thinning Fruits. This is very necessary as the trees are liable to overcrop. Under glass two or, occasionally, even three successive crops, on year-old and new growth, may be produced in the year. Outdoors only one is obtained, in summer on welltripened side growths produced the previous year. Thin out the smaller fruits towards the ends of these shoots and preserve those of larger size towards the base. In autumn remove all fruits above the size of peas as these will not overwinter outdoors. Under glass they crop early.

Routine Feeding. Apply a light mulch of well-rotted manure each spring, supplemented by basic slag at 6 oz. per sq. yd., and sulphate of potash at 11 oz. per sq. yd., in October. Every second autumn give ground chalk at 8 oz. per sq. yd.

Management under Glass. Early figs from which it is desired to obtain three crops of fruit are started in December or early January by closing ventilators, watering borders, and raising the temperature to 65°. Usually, only two crops are attempted, and the house is closed in February. In any case the temperature is gradually allowed to increase to a maximum of 800 as the figs ripen. Paths and walls should be damped and leaves syringed liberally while in growth, except when the fruits are ripening, when a drier atmosphere must be maintained. After the first crop has been gathered, the year-old laterals are thinned out liberally to expose the second-crop fruits to the light, and the borders are well soaked with water or weak liquid manure.

Routine Pest Control. Usually unnecessary.

Propagation. By cuttings of welltripened one-year-old growths taken in the autumn and inserted singly in pots filled with a gritty compost. Cuttings are rooted in a frame or cool greenhouse.

Varieties. Brown Turkey is the best all-round fig for cultivation in this country. Others are Bourgarotte Grise, Brunswick, *Negro Largo, *St John’s, *White Ischia and White Marseilles.

*Greenhouse only.

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