Monthly Archives: December 2011

Planting a fig

This is our Brown Turkey Fig that I finished planting today.  We decided to have a go at growing a fig in the sunniest part of the plot, and espaliering it against the fence that separates us from the neighbouring school. This way fruit gets more sunshine.

I began earlier in the week by hanging a trellis on the steel fence, after I’d attached plastic netting to keep at bay the brambles and bindweed that flourish in the corridor between the allotments and the school grounds.  Then I dug a pit for the fig as you need to restrict the roots to encourage fruit and strong growth. It is essential that the roots are contained and not allowed to spread. Left to its own devices, the tree will make vigorous growth at the expense of a good crop of fruit.

The pit is dug to a depth of about 18 inches and lined n four sides by 2 foot (600 mm) flags to restrict the roots.  The top 4-6 inches should protrude above the surrounding soil level, as seen above.  The bottom of the pit is then filled with a layer of tightly-packed brick rubble (plenty of that around on our plot) to a depth of 9 inches.  The instructions from our nursery recommended then filling the pit with a loam-based compost, such as John Innes No. 3, but we decided to use the well-dug soil, since it’s rich from not having been cultivated for some time.  We added some blood, fish and bone.

It will be three years before we hope to get fruit like cthat above.  Fig ‘Brown Turkey’ produces a heavy crop of luscious, purple-skinned, pink-fleshed fruits, plus beautiful, sculptural leaves. Grows best planted against a south- or west-facing fence or wall.  Brown Turkey is regarded as the best variety of fig tree to go for.  The fruit ripens in late August, and has a reddish-brown skin, red flesh and a sweet flavour.

With the roots of the fig confined to the small area of the pit it will be essential to water the tree, especially during summer when the fruit is swelling and we’ll need to net the tree early, to prevent birds stealing the crop. The figs are ready to pick when the fruit droops on its stalk and the skin is well coloured. If the skin cracks open it is fully ripe and you may notice a drop of nectar.  But all that’s well in the future.