Those of you who have eaten a fig right off the tree know what a sweet and succulent treat it is. Like a fresh peach, it melts in your mouth and the sticky liquid runs down your chin. Garden-fresh figs make for some great food memories. You don’t have to live in sunny Italy or south of the Mason Dixon to grow figs. They are easy to grow and the mild New Jersey climate is well-suited to their culture. Just one friendly warning: be prepared for your garden to become the most popular gathering spot in the neighborhood when the figs ripen in summer.
Choose a site with full sun and a little shelter from winter wind. Near a sunny brick wall is an ideal location.
Dig a hole as deep as the rootball and 1 1/2 times as wide.
Improve the excavated soil with 1/3 compost. Scratch 2 inches of compost into the bottom of the hole.
Remove the tree from its container and place it in the hole and backfill with the improved soil. Tamp the soil gently to eliminate air pockets. If your tree is wrapped in burlap, cut the twine from the trunk to avoid girdling as the tree grows.
Water the rootball until the soil is damp but not waterlogged. Use a liquid plant starter in your water to facilitate fast root growth.
Mulch a circle 2 inches deep around the trunk about 6 inches beyond the planting hole. Pull the mulch 2 inches away from the trunk to prevent excessive moisture which can rot bark.
Water the fig tree as the top of the soil becomes dry throughout the first season.
Trim the fig tree every spring to eliminate dead branches and to control its size.
Mulch the tree in late autumn with 4 to 6 inches of shredded leaves to protect the roots from freezing.
Things You Will Need
- Hand-held pruning shears
- Watering can or bucket
- Liquid plant starter
- In New Jersey, plant fig trees in spring so they will have a whole season to become established before the first winter.
- Your fig tree may die back to the ground during a harsh winter. Just cut the twigs to the ground and your fig will quickly become full and shrubby.
- Staking is not necessary. Unstaked trees which move with the wind will develop stronger trunks and root systems than those which are staked.
- If you see ants on your ripe figs, don't worry. They are after the sugary syrup which drips out. Just brush or rinse them away.
- Don't be tempted to overwater or overfertilize your fig tree. Figs are native to the Mediterranean and like poor, dry soil.
- Don't be alarmed if your fig tree doesn't bear fruit the first couple of years. Once they become established, they will bear consistently.
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