Thursday, April 7, 2016

F is for Fig- #AtoZChallenge

Today is represented by the letter "F"- and F is for Fig!
My fig tree, 2012. Just a single stick.

Or, more specifically, "fig tree"- because I have one, and I'm extremely proud of its progress over the few short years of its life. Figs are one of my favorite tree fruits, not only because of the sticky sweet treats that grow on their branches, but because they will grow just about anywhere, despite being a Mediterranean plant adapted for hot, dry weather. 

I purchased my specimen at the local nursery. It was the very last one left, had no label at all 9the staff had lost it and couldn't remember what type of fig it was) and it was literally just a short stick when I planted it out in front of the house in 2012.

It is now taller than I am (I am 5'5" in my shoes), and it's only been 4 years! Granted, I didn't water it too often, and it didn't receive any fertilizer until this year when I gave it a bag of horse manure. Since adding the poo, it's grown taller, grown more leaves, and developed a second and even third crop of fruit. I counted up to 70 figs on it a few weeks ago!

It grew two figs in 2012.
It's a productive plant with a "can-do" attitude- even as a short stick it was producing fruit, and continued to do so almost exponentially since 2012.

Figs are pretty easy to care for, at least, and as a self proclaimed "lazy gardener" that's ideal. I have it located in front of a brick wall, where the sun shines all year round to create a heat trap. It's planted beside an ornamental evergreen which acts as a wind break for it, as the wind can blow pretty hard down here. Figs seem to have low water requirements and do well with any fertilizer you care to give them.

2013, it had four or five figs- easily double that of 2012
I recently planted Russian comfrey near it, with the hope of growing it as a crop underneath the fig, to draw up minerals and nutrients from the deeper subsoils, and to use it as compost/fertilizer for the tree itself. Compost is always an on-going project, so of course, everything in my garden will benefit from the comfrey project.

Figs can also be planted in pots if you don't have a reasonable to plant them in ground. Containing the root ball helps to keep the fig tree's vigorous growing habit in check, resulting in more fruit and less leafy growth. My is planted near the road bed, in tough, compacted clay soil. I dug just deep enough to create a hole of reasonable size, and then planted the tree. If the crop is any indicator, this method is working. 

The fruit, of course, can be used for many things, including jams and baked goods. I personally like my figs fresh, and I eat them skin, pulp and all. I have dehydrated them, and find that it works best if you quarter each fig and lay them out on the dryer tray- they dry faster and more thoroughly that way.

My tree, whatever type of fig it is, appears to grow fruit of exceptional size, although I have learned that excessive rain fall will cause them to swell and split. The fruit is a sort of brownish-purple, so your guess is as good as mine as far as variety goes. I harvested at least a dozen massive figures this, and am waiting to see how the second and third crops ripen.

2016: in just four short years, it has grown
taller than the windowsill
My original plan in planting the fig was to train it over the bedroom window in order to create a natural sun blind for our bedroom, which gets very hot in the summer time, as the sun beats down on the front of the house all day. This plan seems to be coming together well, as the tree has finally reached over the window sill. I reckon in the next few year it'll really start making a difference in my "passive climate control" system.

Thank you for you reading my blog this far, and I hope that you too can plant a tree in your garden, for shade, for fruit, and for a unique and interesting plant that can survive almost anything.

I'll see you tomorrow, when I post the next blog!

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