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Summer is the time for figs

By Sheri Bethard

Orange County Master Gardeners

 

Many of you probably remember growing up picking and eating figs straight off your grandmother’s fig trees when you were little in the summer. Now that you are an adult you are interested in providing homegrown fruits for your family you know are fresh and pure from harmful chemicals.

Figs are one of the oldest fruits known to humankind. They were mentioned in the Bible in the Garden of Eden and considered sacred by the Romans and often used for trade in Europe and the Middle East.

The fig tree originated in Western Asia and the Spanish Explorers brought them to the Americas in the 1500s

Fig trees are easy to grow and produce many figs for many years. The soft, sweet and creamy and have been used in baking and to sweeten meats. They are high in iron, fiber, potassium, and calcium. They have been used as a laxative; so don’t go overboard eating them when you start.

 

Fig trees do very well in Orange County, USDA zone 9.

Most varieties will survive any of our cold winters once they have established a good root system. Figs need at least 8 hours of full sun each day.

They do best in well-regular moist soil. Amend your soil with compost or manure and allow for shallow spreading roots with your trees growing up to 15-30 feet tall. Fertilize 3 times a year prior to August. Figs prefer a pH of 6.5.

Fig Varieties doing well in Orange County—

Brown Turkey – A very hardy fig, which can be grown in a container as well as in the ground. The sweet fruits mature to dark brown skin color when ripe.

Celeste – Similar to Brown Turkey and often called the Sugar Fig in the South. Celeste is a hardy fig with a violet-skinned mature fruit.

LSU Purple – A newer variety that reliably produces an early and late crop of figs in our area and the fruits are large. The trees are nematode resistant. LSU Gold is another new variety with yellow-skinned fruits. These figs are for the die-hard LSU Fans.

O’Rourke – An older fig on a longer stalk. When the fruit is ripe the internal color is golden with a red center when soft ripe. Ripens around the last week of June in our area with the fruit hanging down when fully ripe.

Purple Passion – A very deep plum-colored fig with amber flesh and very delicious. It is prolific, super sweet and great for eating fresh off the tree.