How to Grow Figs

You don’t have to live near the Mediterranean to grow figs.


| April/May 2007



FigTreeWinterProtection.jpg

With some cold-weather protection, fig trees can be grown even in northern regions.


Photo courtesy ALDO BIAGIOTTI

When I told my father, an Italian immigrant who had fig trees on his farm in Italy, that I was going to raise fig trees in my Zone 6 Connecticut backyard, he said, “ Ma sei pazzo? ” (Are you crazy?)

He pointed out that the cool climate in southwest Connecticut is not like the warm weather of Mediterranean countries where fig trees thrive. However, with a little effort and know-how, I am able to harvest delicious, honey-flavored figs. Here’s how you can, too.

About 15 years ago, I planted three fig tree shoots on the south side of our farmhouse in holes wide enough to accommodate the spread of the roots. The farmhouse blocked the north wind in the winter and reflected heat and light in the summer. Fig trees love lime, my father said, so I added pulverized limestone at the base of each shoot.

After that, I needed patience, because it takes three years before one can harvest figs. But now, each July, pear-shaped figs appear in the crotches of the branches, and in September we are eating tasty figs.

Sono deliciosi ” (they are delicious), Father says. I smile and say, “Sì.

In late fall, before the first frost and when the figs are not ripening quickly enough, I apply an Italian trick: I coat the underside of each fig with olive oil; this expedites ripening.





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