Pop Quiz: Which country produces the most figs? The answer? Turkey. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be growing sweet, delicious figs right in your Pacific Northwest backyard.
Choosing a Site for Growing Figs
Figs should be planted in a full sun location. Figs can be planted in the ground, or even in containers.
Fertilizer for Figs
Fig trees grow satisfactorily in moderate soils without fertilizer. If growth is unsatisfactory, an application of nitrogen is needed in the early spring. Don’t fertilize in the summer.
Training and Pruning Figs
Figs can be trained to be either a bush or a tree. The bush form is easier and more practical in the Oregon climate because of frequent winter freezes. To achieve this size of plant, remove 1/3-1/2 of the annual growth each winter. Pruning in the winter will help prevent the tree from suckering, or growing shoots from the base. Remember to keep the center of your fig tree open. This will allow it to get more sun and produce higher quality fruit. Fig trees can be pruned severely and kept small – as low as 5 feet. When pruned this way, the early crop is sacrificed. Figs planted in containers are also restricted in growth.
Fruit Bearing and Harvesting
Some varieties bear small fruit that ripen in the summer as well as the fall. They bear fruit continuously over a period of 6 weeks. Remove any unripe fruit in the late fall. For the best flavor, figs should be picked until the fruit wilts at the neck and bends over the stem. If any milky latex develops at the stem end when the fruit is picked, it has not reached its full ripeness.
Winterizing Fig Trees
All varieties are killed to the ground by temperatures at or below zero degrees F. At zero to ten degrees F., hardy varieties will be injured only on the ends of the branches. Trees more than three or four years old will grow back from the buds below the ground. It is wise to wrap your tree to protect it from the cold if you live in an area where temperatures fall below ten degrees Fahrenheit. To help your fig harden off for the winter, irrigation should be shut off after September 15 each year.