Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.
Success With Fig Trees
Winter before last we had lots of die back on the big Fig at home and the
following season we had no figs at all, but there seems to be plenty of
young figs developing this year. According to the record that Mom keeps
in an old diary, we normally pick our first ripe figs in the middle of
August, but one or two are starting to turn already and we are still
only in July. They do say that Figs need lots of water while the fruit
are growing, so we are hopeful that it will do well this year after all
the rain! It is certainly replacing many of the frost damaged branches
from the other year, so recently I thought about pruning out the dead
and perhaps shaping it up a little. The
worst of the dead had been pruned out last year, but I had been afraid
to cut the branches back too far until they had had a chance to
say that you should normally prune Apples and Pears in the Winter months
while the trees are dormant, but some fruit such as Plums, Peaches and
Cherries should be done now, in mid Summer, to prevent Silver Leaf. So,
after cutting back some of the excessive growth on my Plum tree I
decided to attack the big Fig tree as well, expecting the cut branches
to bleed, but found that although the thin, young growth bled profusely,
the thicker branches didn’t. Hopefully, the cuts will heal over before
the Winter as it is still growing vigorously. Interestingly, the
“Die-back,” seemed to go back to a “Joint” as the branches are
almost segmented like a Bamboo.
have a sloppy growing habit with branches appearing anywhere and
everywhere on the trunk, so some time ago I had piled rough compost
around the base to encourage the lowest branches to root and I had
pegged others down into the ground. When I scraped the compost away, I
could see that some of the stems had started to root, but being a bit
over enthusiastic, whilst trimming the rest of the tree, I cut the lot
off and potted some of the better ones. Then I spread the soil over the
ground to act as a mulch even though you are not supposed to feed figs
because it causes the tree to produce lots of leaf growth and little, or
no fruit. However, I needed too raise the surrounding soil level to fill
the gap under the fence where the ground had sunk over the years because
it is a relatively new house with made up garden around it.
pruning I trimmed 15 cuttings to a couple of feet in length and pushed
them deeply into a patch in my allotment that is in partial shade where
the soil is well drained and almost sandy. As is advisable with many
types of cuttings, I cut much of the soft growth off and all the leaves,
to reduce the stress on the cuttings. Years ago, when I first tried
rooting Fig cuttings, I got over a 50% success rate simply by pushing
them in a dry spot in the garden and leaving them over winter.
is always a good idea to give young Figs a bit of Winter protection for
the first couple of years until their stems thicken out and normally at
home, I either wrap my young exotic fruit trees up in fleece, or take
their pots into the greenhouse. This year, however, I have decided to
use my giant cloche to cover the cuttings on the Allotment as it will
not be used for anything else during the Winter. And after the apparent
success of plunging the pots of many of my very young fruit trees, into
the ground on my allotment, I have decided I am going to “plunge,”
one or two more Figs from home, along with a couple of small Olive
trees, in the extra space in my cloche, over the coming Winter.
won’t give them as much warmth as a cold greenhouse, but should give
them a more stable temperature and not encourage them into growth too
early in the spring. Plunging the trees into the soil will mean that the
3 foot height of the cloche will not include the 12 inches or more of
the large pots that they are in, so I should be able to put plants in
that would otherwise seem to big.
few years ago we would only ever see the “Brown Turkey,” Fig variety
and then one day we chanced upon “Ice Crystal.” Now we have 8
different varieties at home that are all supposed to be hardy, although
being small they will benefit from the Winter protection of the cloche.
Unlike fruit such as Apples, many Figs have different shaped and sized
leaves and are supposed to have different coloured and sized fruits as
well, but I have yet to find out as most were only bought in the last 12
months and they are still too small to fruit.
Fig collection is growing and I already have a number of small rooted
cuttings growing on. The trouble is I keep giving them away when people
ask if have any young plants to spare, but I still dream of building up
the numbers and starting the first U.K. Fig Orchard!