I’m relatively new to fig growing. Originally a yankee from Cincinnati, my only experience with figs were fig newtons, never tasting a fresh fig until I moved to Alabama. I was shocked by its juicy deliciousness!
After building our retirement home in the Talledega National Forest, the first fruit tree I purchased (2013) for our homestead was a fig. Not knowing anything about fig trees, I merely bought an unknown variety from the local Wal-Mart. Even my limited success with this tree encouraged me to look into fig trees a bit more.
After some casual research into fig trees for my region, I purchased a Brown Turkey and a Black Mission. Not yet having a location to put them into the ground, I merely grew them in containers. Both began growing suckers, so I just snipped them off and stuck them into some soil. After only a few weeks they had developed roots and began growing as new trees. This gave me a nice little excess of fig trees to share with neighbors, friends and family.
Since then, those two trees have found homes in the ground of our property. The Black Mission is growing marvelously, but no figs so far. The Brown Turkey has been struggling. Its location is a bit shaded and the soil is horrible, so I recently took another sucker and started it in another location more suited for it. This new Brown Turkey appears that it will quickly overtake its elder.
This year (2018), even though I hadn’t given it much care, my original Wal-Mart fig tree started bearing more than just a few figs. Its become a daily ritual to walk by it to see if we have any ripening figs. It can be a real balancing act to leave them be to develop to prime ripeness, but before the ants find them. But patience has its rewards!
This recent experience has given me the fig “bug”, so to speak. However, fig trees can be expensive, especially some of the higher end figs. So I put out some requests on plant sharing groups for fig cuttings. I received a response from Mark Thomas. And while en route to pick up the cuttings from Mark, I came across another mature fig tree on Chelsea Rd. However, the varieties of these cuttings are uncertain, but may become apparent as they mature (after acquiring many known varieties, I’ve since disposed of these trees).
We have planted many different fruit trees on our property. Some were started from seeds or cuttings. One year, Lowe’s was closing out the season by selling all of its fruit trees for $5 each. Though we didn’t yet have any place to put them, I bought one of each and grew them in containers until the excavation was done to get them into the ground. There is something uniquely rewarding to growing ones own produce, even more so when starting from seed, cuttings or even smaller starters.
Since I have limited funds and I enjoy the startup process of planting, I set out to get a few varieties of fig tree cuttings or inexpensive smaller plants (this was in the fall of 2017). My wife has had a gift card burning a hole in her pocket and due to a mix up of an order she placed on Amazon, there was still a sizable amount left on the card. With that card in hand, I set out to find some deals. I got a little bit carried away and ended up getting more than just a few fig trees, but the gift card covered the bulk of the costs.
As it turned out, I ended up with hundreds of cuttings from over 100 varieties. My house was full of potted fig cuttings – and fungus gnats! My wife (Mary) must have thought I was bonkers. They were my babies. And like most parents, I tended to pamper them – too much. Of all the varieties I started, only about 50 survived.
I don’t care for container gardening, so throughout the spring and summer (of 2018), I was planting fig trees. Most grew like weeds, but I kept most of the figs picked off to encourage growth. Now to see how many make it through the winter.
It’s now the winter of 2019. I had planned on not repeating my “anything worth doing is worth overdoing” approach of last year. I’ve limited myself to just a dozen varieties. But I’m a bit of a rebel. Rules are meant to be broken. So I’ve exceeded my dozen variety limit – but only a little. I just couldn’t resist some of what became available. And there are more than just figs to be grown: Persimmons, kiwi, currants, pomegranates, and jujubes – all from cuttings. And this year I’m using yellow glue traps for the gnats. I just wish I had gotten them sooner.