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St Austell, Cornwall, England                    Duana Pearson                    ediblestaustell@gmail.com 

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Fig

Ficus carica

 

Did you know that Figs grow really well in our climate? They prefer full sun, shelter and well-drained soil. Hardy to -10*C, these bushy trees could have an ultimate spread of 4m x 4m. But don’t worry if you don’t have that much space, they are easy to train and can be kept tidily against a wall or fence. They also like having their roots restricted and so do well when grown in large pots.

 

Fruits form as embryos on the wood in the late summer - but don’t ripen until the following summer. This is important to remember so you don’t inadvertently prune all your fruit off every year. Even an untrained fig will need occasional pruning - usually just removing a proportion (up to ⅓) of the older wood in early spring. A rejuvenated plant will put on strong, healthy new growth but less fruit that summer.

 

Wasps are attracted to the overripe fruit. I have spent many summers picking fruit surrounded by wasps but have never been stung (in this situation) they tend to be very dozy and not at all interested in me, though I am careful not to just grab at the fruit. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution as the best way to discourage wasps is to pick the fruit when ripe! 

 

Figs are generally (fingers crossed!) trouble free. However, despite being hardy, young growth can suffer frost damage in consistently cold weather. It’s also important to remember that pot plants need protecting from frost as the roots are very vulnerable to damage. Pots don’t provide much protection from the elements! Move into a greenhouse or conservatory or wrap the pot in fleece. Similarly, remember to water frequently throughout the growing season as pots dry out very quickly.

 

Great varieties:

‘Brown Turkey’ - stalwart of british fig growing for all the best reasons

‘Panachee’ - striking variegated fruit - green & cream humbug

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