Conical fruit that is almost black with matching dark red flesh inside. One of the highest yielding varieties that will bear two crops a year in most climates. Middle-sized fruits that are packed with sweetness. Best eaten fresh or used in jams. Self-fertile.
Figs grow to around 3m tall and 5m wide but can be larger. They need a sunny spot – full sun is vital – and well-drained soil. Figs can be planted virtually year-round but, as they are deciduous, there are good stocks available in winter, or you can grow your own at that time from a hardwood cutting.
They can also be grown in large containers. Figs are long-lived, so it is worth putting some time into them when they are first planted. They have a reputation for being virtually ‘unkillable’ but this is only when they are well established.
To get them bulletproof, make sure young plants are kept well watered, especially during hot, dry periods. Although mature trees tolerate cold and frost, protect new plantings from frost until they have grown over a metre high.
Figs have few problems if given a good start in life. Expect to start harvesting figs 2–3 years after planting. Most varieties produce two crops a year when in a mediteranean style climate. The first crop grows on last year’s wood and ripens in summer. The second crop forms on new growth and ripens in autumn.
The figs I grow don’t require a pollinator to set fruit, however you will need to fend off the birds. Netting is probably the best method but do check nets regularly to rescue any trapped birds, lizards or other animals.
Trees are pruned when young to develop several main branches. Aim for an umbrella-like shape so you can enjoy their shade. Once established, however, there’s no need to prune except to maintain the overall shape and size the way you want it, or to remove older wood.
As well as scoffing figs straight from the tree you can toss them through a salad, serve them with cheese or fold them through a chocolate cake.