Sara Drake: Figs grow well here and require little pruning

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 20, 2015

Figs are appealing to look at, grow and eat. Did you know that just one fig contains a high amount of fiber, calcium, vitamins A, B, C and folate?

They are very low in cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium. They are high in dietary fiber. Because they are very nutritious and delicious, figs add a surprise sweetness to many recipes.

Many people associate the fig bush with nostalgia. Most of us can recall a fig bush at Grandma’s house long ago that still yields fruit year after year.

The fig varieties that Rowan County 4-H is offering during the spring plant sale are Brown Turkey and Celeste. Brown Turkey figs bear twice a year.  The skin is copper-brown with the flesh turning from various shades of amber to pink.

The Celeste variety produces fruit that are small to medium in size with a light brown to violet brown skin.  The flesh is a whitish pink color and there are very few seeds.  Celeste ripens during the early summer. Figs are in one gallon containers and are well adapted to the piedmont growing conditions.

Dormant and nursery grown bushes may be planted between late fall and early spring. Figs need full sun and should be planted 15-20 feet apart. Most local growers locate their bushes adjacent to a building with a northern exposure to protect them. This also helps to keep the plants dormant until warmer weather.

Prepare the hole 1-2 inches deeper than in the nursery pot. No pruning is required if grown in the ground. Mulch the figs to conserve moisture and to keep down weeds. Figs have a shallow root system and will benefit from mulch.

Figs usually need very little pruning. Pruning consists of mainly removing dead and broken branches. Before pruning, wait until the plant has just begun to produce new growth. With time your fig bush may become too large to easily harvest. In this case, just cut back the individual branches to the desired height.

In early spring, apply fertilizer according to soil test results. You can get a soil testing kit from the Cooperative Extension Office.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor and share your figs with friends and family. Fig bushes are in one gallon containers and cost $10 each or $9 if five or more are ordered.

Other plants Rowan County 4-H is offering during their spring plant sale include blueberries, blackberries, muscadines and raspberries. Blueberries, blackberries, muscadines and raspberries are 2-year-old plants, in one gallon containers, and cost $10 each. Limited quantities of Allstar strawberries are also available in bundles of 25 for $10, 50 for $15, or 100 for $20.

Call the Cooperative Extension Office at 704-216-8970 to place your order. Orders must be received by February 26.

Sara Drake is an Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development, call 704-216-8700.

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