MASTER GARDENER: Figs are the sweet summer fruit
Published 12:16 am Thursday, May 26, 2022
Gardeners, it certainly seems Summers arrived early this year as we’ve reached the lower 90’s too often for us to consider this a mild spring!
Several weeks remain before summer officially arrives, and while it is certainly getting hotter, this might be indicative that my all-time favorite “fruit” will be ripening sooner than usual — figs.
How many of you remember picking and eating figs directly from your grandmother’s fig trees when you were young?
Fig trees are easy to grow and will produce countless figs for many years. They are soft, with a sweet, creamy texture and have long been used in baking or to sweeten meats.
Figs are unusual in that they are not actually fruit; they are inverted flowers. The flower (fig) is comprised of both female and male parts.
They provide an excellent source of dietary fiber and minerals, such as iron, potassium, and calcium. Figs are typically consumed fresh, dried, or cooked into preserves.
Fig trees easily grow in our Southeast, Texas climate with many varieties appreciating our mild winters once established. They require at least 10 hours full sun exposure each day while preferring a soil pH of 6.5.
Select a planting location, which will provide adequate sun exposure and space. Plant trees in well-draining soil amended with compost or manure.
Once the tree is established, it requires little maintenance other than applying fertilizer 3 times a year prior to July with a general-purpose fertilizer, such as 8-8-8.
Fig Varieties for Southeast, Texas climate:
Brown Turkey – also known as “Spanish Mission” and “Texas Ever-Bearing” fig is an easy to grow, hardy fig, which can be container grown or planted in the ground. The fruits mature to a dark brown color when ripe and could very well be the most versatile fig of all. This tree will produce at a very young age and has a smaller stature, which can easily fit into most home gardens.
Celeste – a hardy fig which develops small to medium, violet-skinned fruit when mature. “Celeste” is a large fig tree that is highly productive. The flesh is rich and sweet, often used to make fig preserves. It fruits very early in the season (June), and it is one of the best figs to grow in Texas.
O’Rourke – is an older variety of fig where the figs are produced on a longer stalks. The fruit is ripe when the internal color is golden with a red center. This is a personal favorite variety which we eat fresh from the tree and use to make strawberry or cherry flavored fig preserves (using Jello® gelatin).
Purple Passion – a deep, dark plum-colored fig with amber flesh and extremely delicious. It is prolific, super sweet and great for eating fresh off the tree. Another of my personal favorites! We use these figs to make fig upside down cake and to can in lemon syrup.
LSU Purple – is a newer variety, which reliably produces both an early and late crop of figs in our area with large fruits. The trees are nematode resistant.
LSU Gold – is another new variety with yellow-skinned fruits.
John Green is a Texas Certified master gardener with Orange County Master Gardeners. If you have specific gardening questions or need more information, contact the Orange County Master Gardeners Helpline at 409-882-7010 or visit txmg.org/orange, Facebook: Orange County Texas Master Gardeners Association or email email@example.com.