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Fresh or as preserves, it’s easy to dig figs

Figs can grow in many different soil types and need to receive full sun.
Figs can grow in many different soil types and need to receive full sun. Getty Images

After my husband and I started dating, I was introduced to his grandmother’s fig preserves. They are delicious to say the least. When we bought our house, I was excited to see that I had a mature fig bush in the yard. My plan was to starting making my own preserves. Unfortunately, my job keeps me pretty busy and I have yet to make any preserves. Fortunately, my husband’s grandmother keeps us well-stocked with fig preserves.

Figs grow well in Middle Georgia and south Georgia. Figs can grow in many different soil types and need to receive full sun. Also, if you ask my mother she will tell you that the fig tree needs to be placed near the house so it can hear you talk. While I am not sure about this wives’ tale, there might be some truth behind it. My parents live in Covington, and in colder areas of the state figs should be planted on the south side of a building to help protect again cold injury.

Fig trees can be purchased from nurseries as either bare-root or in containers. Do not purchase varieties that are grown in California. These varieties cannot survive Georgia’s climate. When planting transplants, the soil should be tested for pH and fertility. This can be done through your extension office. The pH should be between a 5.5 and 6.5. If possible, till the soil 8 inches deep in a 6 square foot area for each transplant. Space transplants between 10 and 15 feet apart, with 20 feet in between rows. Plant fig trees while they are dormant. In Middle Georgia and north Georgia, it is best to plant in the early spring after the last frost has passed. Unless it was topped at the nursery, prune a bare-root tree back by one-third. Container trees do not necessarily need to be pruned. Plant trees 4 inches deeper than they were originally planted. This will encourage low branching to form a bush.

Figs are recommended to be trained in the bush form rather than tree form. Training this way will allow more fruit to be closer to the ground for easy picking. During late winter after the first growing season, select three to eight vigorous, widely spaced shoots to serve as leaders. All other shoots should be removed. If more branching is desired, prune the bush back by one-third beginning the second year after planting. Bushes that are being brought into production should be fertilized three times a year with a 10-10-10. After the fig bush has matured, fertilize once in the spring. Figs need to be watered throughout the summer. They need 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water each week. Figs also respond well to mulching.

Whether you enjoy eating them fresh or making preserves, fig are a great summer treat.

For more information, contact Houston County Extension at 478-987-2028 or visit the office at 801 Main St., Perry. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Visit www.caes.uga.edu/extension/houston for more news about your local Extension office.

DATES TO REMEMBER

Fall Series of Gardening with the Masters: Registration deadline is one week prior to the class.

Aug. 30: Tending Your Landscape in the Fall

Sept. 22: Composting for your Garden

Oct. 18: Building Raised Beds and Cold Frames

Nov. 15: So You Want a Greenhouse …

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