Tuesday, April 5, 2022
HomeOrganic FarmingRising Scrumptious Contemporary Figs in Pots - Broadfork Farm

Rising Scrumptious Contemporary Figs in Pots – Broadfork Farm


Ripe fresh fig ready to eat

I didn’t develop up consuming many figs – principally I simply loved snacking on Fig Newtons. I’m fairly positive I by no means tasted a recent fig whereas I used to be a toddler. I’ve just a few recollections of shopping for recent figs at specialty markets as a younger grownup, and whereas I positively loved these, nothing compares to my first time making an attempt a fig freshly picked. I used to be in my early twenties and volunteering at a farm in California with an natural fig orchard. Each morning, I’d stroll by way of the orchard amassing my breakfast, which included Asian Pears, Grapes, and Figs. Figs in a short time rose up on my record of favorite meals.

Years later, after beginning Broadfork Farm, my accomplice and I acquired a potted fig from some great clients who have been transferring to the USA. They couldn’t convey their beloved houseplant with them and so gave it to us to take care of.  It hadn’t produced fruit for them however was very pretty of their residence. Additionally they didn’t point out any selection identify, if they’d ever recognized it.

We introduced it residence and cared for it, although actually didn’t child it. I’ve to confess, for individuals who develop vegetation for a dwelling, we’re not all the time on the ball with potted houseplants. We potted it up into a bigger pot, tried leaving it outdoors when it was sizzling (which it wasn’t used to and so ended up with solar scalded leaves), then moved it into our solar porch.

Our outdated farmhouse is heated solely with a woodstove, so we’ve got many alternative temperature zones throughout the winter. This high quality ended up being splendid for us in our fig-growing journey. As soon as the fig skilled cool fall climate (in our unheated sunporch), its leaves began to show beige and drop off. At this level the plant is all branches and is prepared for hibernation, so we carried the pot to our basement which is darkish (we hardly ever go down there), damp-ish (it’s a stone basis, that is good since you don’t need the plant to dry out an excessive amount of whereas in hibernation however overwatering throughout this time is a problem, because the vegetation roots aren’t too energetic), and funky (principally much like a root cellar). You don’t wish to retailer your figs someplace over the winter the place the temperature fluctuates an excessive amount of (like in our sunporch the place it will get nearly as chilly as outdoors throughout the evening however can actually heat up on a sunny day).

The subsequent yr, we began getting fig fruits forming and we have been excited! We’ve since realized that figs produce probably the most fruit, reliably, once they have interval of hibernation.

Since then, we’ve propagated many extra fig vegetation from that authentic plant (we suspect the variability is Chicago Hardy) and have been capable of take pleasure in increasingly recent figs with every passing yr. This yr, we’re going to strive 7 different varieties to see how we like them.

Figs ripening on the small tree in a pot at Broadfork Farm in Nova Scotia.

I positively assume they’re an ideal crop to develop in your house, particularly as its unlikely the economics would work out nicely in our area for it to be grown by native farmers as a industrial crop. Contemporary figs will not be usually seen in shops as a result of they’re not nice candidates for transport. They don’t ripen after they’ve been picked. They bruise or crack simply when being dealt with. And so they solely actually preserve for just a few days as soon as picked. Rising a plant could be the solely technique to expertise the delight of a freshly-harvested fig. And so they’re actually not that onerous to develop (actually not tougher than apples or pears).

The fundamental wants of a productive fig tree embody a container, soil, a shiny and heat location from June to September, and an area to over-winter a dormant potted plant.

I’m going to reply just a few of probably the most generally requested questions we get about figs and go into some extra element.

Do you promote fig fruits?

We don’t, sadly as a result of we’ve by no means been capable of produce greater than we are able to fortunately eat (which is sort of a bit). I don’t know anybody domestically who’s rising figs commercially. We do propagate some vegetation that we promote every year by way of our farmers’ market stand. The brand new varieties we’re trialing this yr have been bought by way of Richter’s in Ontario (although 1 selection didn’t make it after transport).

Do I would like to purchase multiple plant for pollination?

No, you don’t. You’ll get fruit from only one plant. The “Frequent Fig”, which is the class of any fig vegetation prone to be offered for fruit in Canada, is self-pollinated. Apparently, self-pollinated vegetation of all types (together with lettuce, peas, beans), have change into self-pollinated (relatively than insect-pollinated) by way of domestication by people (or in all probability extra precisely described as long-term, intense plant-human relationships the place each species are shaping the others’ behaviour). There are theories that this fig-human relationship was the primary use of horticulture in human historical past. Researchers have found carbonized fig fruits in an early Neolithic village courting almost one thousand years earlier than domestication of grains.

There are varieties of figs that do require insect-pollination – from one insect specifically – the fig wasp. Nevertheless, these aren’t the categories you’ll be rising. Figs don’t truly flower, nicely – not in the best way you may think. You don’t see the flowers as a result of the fruit itself is definitely an enlarged, fleshy stem with the flowers inside. Some types of figs produce 2 crops a yr, one in early summer season and the twond in September and October. We sometimes get each crops, until we’ve taken cuttings from a plant or pruned it. The primary crop grows on wooden produced the yr earlier than, the twond crop produces on new progress.

What measurement pot do I would like?

I’d say minimal 5-gallon for a mature plant (in its 3rd yr). Although it’s best to maintain potting them up each few years into a bigger pot or add in some new compost and/or potting soil.

Fortunately, the tree doesn’t must be very giant or outdated to bear fruit, although they do bear increasingly fruit as they get bigger and older.

We’re on the level the place it’s getting tougher and tougher to search out bigger pots, however after we are capable of finding one, that plant we put in it does reward us with extra figs.

What sort of soil ought to I put in my pot?

We combine natural potting combine with some compost, bone meal, alfalfa meal, and basalt rock mud (for micronutrients). Possibly a little bit of kelp. There’s no set recipe that would be the key to success, nonetheless you do need a pretty mild soil (not an excessive amount of clay) that may drain nicely. You don’t need an excessive amount of nitrogen or else the plant could produce plenty of prime progress with little fruit. We desire small quantities of gradual launch vitamins and we solely change it each few years after we pot them up once more. Mycchorizal fungi can also be a good suggestion so as to add for vegetation grown in pots.

How ought to I fertilize my fig?

We by no means fertilize ours however I wager they wouldn’t thoughts some diluted seaweed emulsion or stinging nettle tea. Simply keep in mind nothing too wealthy or they’ll produce much less fruit or maybe none in any respect.

How ought to I take care of my new fig plant?

Water commonly however watch out to not overwater – waterlogged roots shall be extra damaging than drying out a bit.

Discover how your plant is responding to the situation you’ve put it in. Our first plant didn’t like an excessive amount of direct solar, although warmth is necessary for fig ripening. So we moved it to the solar porch for a little bit of safety and it was completely happy. All of our subsequent vegetation that we propagated from that one have additionally most popular being sheltered a bit, both in our sunporch or in our greenhouse with shade material (or row cowl used as shade material) over prime. I do know that every one figs don’t reply the identical, so simply remember. That’s a wonderful thing about potted vegetation – they’re simple to maneuver!

We’ve additionally discovered that pruning is helpful, each for making a extra shrub-like shorter form that matches inside simpler, but additionally as a result of it finally ends up creating extra branches, which finally results in extra fruit. Pruning isn’t essentially one thing you wish to do yearly although, or else you’ll cut back your 1st crop the next season.

Some individuals suggest eradicating all of the budding fruit within the first yr or 2 (if there’s any) so the plant can deal with its root system. We by no means initially did this, although just a few years in the past we had a kitten who beloved to bat the younger creating fruit off the branches. We have been annoyed then, however we did find yourself with a bumper crop the next yr (and that kitten’s youthful enthusiasm for such actions had handed).

The place ought to I overwinter my fig?

We’ve continued overwintering the vast majority of ours in our basement, bringing the pots in as soon as the leaves have dropped or completely turned beige (so that they’re now not photosynthesizing and don’t want mild).

This yr, we had just a few very giant pots and the timber branches have been fairly huge, so as an alternative of awkwardly carrying them down the basement stairs, we simply introduced them into our unheated summer season kitchen. It does get colder in there than within the basement (typically beneath 0) and there are home windows so it’s not all the time darkish. Fortunately, bigger figs are much less delicate to chilly than younger (beneath 5 years) fig vegetation.

In case your basement is heated, you’ll have a closet, attic house, or storage that might work nicely.

I’ve heard of individuals rising their figs within the floor and defending them overwinter in varied methods. Can I try this too?

Probably. I’ve no private expertise with this and so don’t have a lot to say.  Our farm is in a little frost pocket so we haven’t tried. We all know individuals who have planted figs within the soil, mulched closely, however nonetheless the highest of the plant completely died again.  The subsequent yr, the plant regrew from its roots, however didn’t find yourself producing any fruit. It actually appears cheap to strive in Zone 6.

How can I inform when a fig is able to harvest?

That is really the arduous half – creating the endurance to let your fruit completely ripen. Even now, we don’t all the time showcase that endurance (as a result of an almost-ripe fig continues to be fairly darn scrumptious!). The fruit ought to really feel very comfortable and pillow-y and droop barely from the neck. Actually, expertise shall be your trainer. For those who decide one, and there’s some white sap, that it wasn’t fairly utterly ripe. That sap is a sort of plant latex and might be irritating to some individuals’s pores and skin or eyes so concentrate on that.

I all the time love listening to about different individuals’s experiences rising figs and maybe even swapping cuttings of various varieties!

Just waiting for that fig to fully ripen!

This weblog publish was initially written by farmer Shannon for our favorite rural dwelling journal in Atlantic Canada, Rural Supply. For those who haven’t subscribed but, you need to – it’s actually a lot inexpensive of a subscription than it ought to or could possibly be! And each every so often, you’ll see an article by Shannon in there on some subject or one other.

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