FIGS

 
 
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things you might like to know...

Figs from Dancing Bear Farm

Four dead sticks

Our fig story begins in 2008 when a long time friend and customer of the farm brought us 4 dead sticks. “Put these in the greenhouse and see what happens” she said. They were cuttings from her fig tree in Brooklyn NY. At that point I had never eaten a fresh fig. The only fig I knew of was a Fig Newton. (which I am quite fond of)

The sticks hung around for a few weeks and finally I stuck them in the ground. Lo and behold, two of them took root and started to grow. And then they produced fruit the first year! I had my first fresh fig and it was good.

So now I’ve got a fig tree growing in my greenhouse! I can’t have a 25 foot tall tree growing in my 15 foot greenhouse. So I cut it back. The cuttings I put in pots of soil and placed around the tree for the winter.

Well sure enough, they started growing. Now I’m selling figs in Newton, Mass.!    

Five Years Later

We now have four figs and an avocado planted in the ground in the greenhouse and a collection of trees in large pots. We have sold and/or given away hundreds of trees and heard tales of customers picking fruit already.

The internet has a wealth of information about figs. A couple of sites we have found useful are:

http://figs4fun.com

http://www.grow-figs.com

At the first site be sure to check out the link to Bill Muzychko in the “Growing Tips” section.


Varieties

Currently we are growing 5 varieties of figs. All have been given to us as cutting to root, with the exact variety unknown. Our names refer to color of fruit or some other distinction.

White - Large pale green fruit with red interior. (see above.)

Blond on Blond - Medium to large, pale green with white interior.

Black - Purple skin with red interior

Turkish Brown - Small brown fruit. Red interior.

Sicilian - Another large,pale green with red interior. Very prolific.

Growing Instructions

Most likely you’re looking at a first year cutting that was rooted over the last winter and potted up to a 2 gallon pot. The first year especially, you are growing the roots. It is important to get a solid root system going before re-potting the tree. You can probably leave the tree in the original container until next spring. Make sure it gets plenty of water during the growing season. Bring inside before a hard freeze. A light frost will not kill it and may encourage it to go dormant, which is what you want it to do.

When the leaves turn yellow and start to fall, it’s time to put it away for the winter. I suggest cutting the tree back by about one third. Keep the plant above freezing and don’t let it dry out completely over the winter. Light is not necessary once the leaves are gone but it does not have to be dark.

In the spring, check for signs of growth, leaf buds, maybe even a small fig. When you see any green, the tree will need light again and a good drink of water. After the last frost of the season it can go outside. Now is the time to pot it up.

Conventional wisdom says to increase the size pot in steps. I have moved plants from 2 gallon to 20 or 30 gallon with excellent results. Eventually the tree wants to be in as large a pot as you can move inside. The larger the pot the more fruit you’ll get.

Every 3 to 4 years the tree will need root pruning. Take the tree out of the pot and cut a couple of inches off the roots. Add some new soil to the same pot and replant. This should be done in the spring.

Dancing Bear Farm

181 Frizzell Hill Road

Leyden, Mass. 01337

413-774-2021

Pruning in the Fall

When the tree has gone dormant, this is the time to cut it back. Pruning encourages branching, and more branches means more fruit.The middle picture is before cutting after just one year of growth.

Bottom is after cutting.

This tree had 50 or so fruit ripen in its second year

The third year, after pruning it had about 100.

Much easier to move inside and better for the tree!

 

Updated version of Fig Brochure below