Figs In The Middle Belt - Growing In The Open Field And In A Container

The fig, the fig, the fig tree are all names for the same plant that we firmly associate with the Mediterranean life. Anyone who has ever tasted figs knows how delicious they are. But, in addition to their delicate sweet taste, they are also very healthy. And here is an interesting detail: it turns out that figs are completely unpretentious plant. In addition, it can be successfully grown on a plot in the middle zone or at home - in a container. And most importantly - to get a harvest. I will share my experience and the peculiarities of its agrotechnics.

Figs in the middle belt - growing in the open field and in a container
Figs in the middle belt - growing in the open ground and in a container

Jiggers - botanical features of the plant

And to begin, perhaps we should begin by examining its biology. Figs belong to the genus Ficus, of the Tuberous family. It turns out that it is related to both ficus and mulberry. In warm areas, figs grow quite a large tree or shrub up to 12-15 meters.

The fig has light gray smooth shoots and fairly large, three- or five-lobed, dark green leaves (recall that the fig leaf covered Adam and Eve). Already in the second or third year, the young plant begins to bear fruit. By the way, in private gardens with good care, fruits, albeit small, can appear at the end of summer already in the year of planting.

And here begins the most interesting and unusual. In southern countries, figs require pollination of their flowers to bear fruit. Pollination is carried out by small wasps, the blastophagi. They reproduce inside the male inflorescence and, naturally, pick up a lot of pollen. Some of these "stained" insects also crawl inside female inflorescences. The pollen gets on the pistil and pollination occurs, the figs are set.

These fruits gradually grow and become juicy and sweet, large or small, yellow or blue, depending on the variety. But the trouble is that these very fig pollinators - blastophagous wasps - live only in warm countries, where the temperature does not drop below zero. How, then, to get a harvest in our latitudes? It turns out that there are a lot of so-called parthenocarpic varieties, or simply self-pollinated. So with them, and it is worth working.

Storing fig cuttings before planting

And to begin with should get cuttings of figs. It is not difficult to do this now, there are many offers on the Internet from amateur gardeners, who offer a large range of varieties. Only stock up on cuttings should be in winter time, or early spring - before the beginning of vegetation.

Standard is considered a cuttings length of 10-25 cm, thick as a finger, with 3-4- buds. But this is the standard, and in practice all kinds of cuttings are rooted. The prepared fig cuttings from the ends should be dipped in molten paraffin to reduce the evaporation of moisture, but you can do without this operation.

Further, fig cuttings are wiped with a weak (1:10) solution of hydrogen peroxide (disinfect), wrapped in a damp (not wet) cotton cloth and placed in a p/e bag. A tag with the name of the variety (if known) and the date are attached to the bag with cuttings. Put in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator (temperature +4 ... +5 degrees) and store until spring. Periodically, once every two weeks, cuttings are taken out and inspected. If there is mold, wipe with diluted peroxide, and if the tissue has dried up, it is slightly moistened.

Figs in the middle belt - growing in the open field and in a container
The fig cuttings are ready for rooting. © Igor Bilevich

Rooting fig cuttings

In early spring, fig cuttings can be put to rooting. Refresh the bottom cut with a sharp knife and make a few shallow scratches at the bottom by cutting the bark. For a good rooting, it is worth keeping the cuttings in a solution of any rooting agent as directed. Although many varieties are easily rooted without it.

Now we place the fig cuttings in any air-permeable and moisture-absorbing substrate. Some people use calcined sand, but I - either sphagnum moss, or, as this season, coconut substrate. The main thing is that it should not be wet, and from it water does not flow, it must be wet.

Any container can be used as a container, but with holes made for air exchange: a plastic container with a lid, a plastic bag, two plastic cups, a container with a glass jar, etc. The temperature for rooting figs +22 ... +25 degrees.

In about a month (or maybe earlier) the first small roots appear. While they are small, the cuttings should be planted in a container with a loose and nutritious mixture. Overgrown roots break easily and the plant again spends time and energy growing new ones, so don't delay.

Potting mix? Peat or coconut substrate plus garden soil. Fig cuttings grow about a month, and then, when the threat of spring frosts passes (about May) after hardening they can be planted in a permanent place.

Figs in the middle belt - growing in the open field and in a container
Fig cuttings are placed in any air- and water-permeable substrate. © Igor Bilevich
Figs in the middle belt - growing in the open field and in a container
In about a month the first small roots appear. © Igor Bilevich

Peculiarities of fig planting in the open ground

And here I will make a small digression, again about fig biology.    Frost-resistance of figs strongly depends on variety and growing conditions (how well the shoots are prepared for winter). But, on average, young bushes freeze at -10 degrees, adult bushes can withstand even -15 degrees.

In principle - not bad, but risky even for the southern regions. Therefore grow figs in our country can either carefully and timely covering it for the winter in the open field, or as a cage culture, removing for the winter in frost-free room (basement).

If you are going to grow in the open field, you know, the best insulator - is the soil itself. Even frozen, it is still warmer than the outside air. Therefore, when planting and you need to provide for the possibility of covering figs. The most acceptable variant is planting in a recess, or more precisely - in a trench, which is below ground level.

The place should be chosen sunny and, preferably, protected from northern and eastern winds. Although figs are not demanding to the soil, but the planting hole should still be made larger - 60x60x60cm and fill it with loose and nutritious mixture (peat, sand, mulch, compost).

Saplings in the hole should be planted a little deeper than the level of the ground, and immediately abundantly water and mulch. It is not necessary to prune figs at planting. All care during the warm season is reduced to regular and abundant watering, loosening or mulching the soil.

Figs in the middle belt - growing in the open field and in a container
The place for figs in the garden should be chosen sunny and, preferably, protected from northern and eastern winds

Winter cover of figs

When the first frosts come (but do not hurry, light frosts only harden the plant), fig branches are bent to the ground, or better and safer - put in advance, when planting, dug a trench. Fix with wire to the driven stakes and cover with any more or less durable sheet material. Slate, plastic, chipboard, boards and even cardboard will do. And above pour a layer of earth 15-20 cm.

If you are going to use p / e film, then keep in mind that in the case of thaws figs can thaw, and under the dry covers will overwinter (and spoil the figs) mice. It's a good idea to remove hard-bending perennial branches or leave them uncovered for ease of covering. Maybe you will be lucky and they will not freeze out.

Care of figs in the garden

In spring, in early May, when the threat of return frosts is gone, we open figs. Shoots themselves, and quite quickly, straighten, uncovered and frozen shoots should be removed immediately. If you have covered a few branches, and they overwintered, then, most likely, you and your family will have a harvest.

Pruth, it is worth knowing that figs in hot summer require abundant, almost daily, watering. Then the fruits are well set and mature, and the plant accumulates enough substances for wintering. With a lack of water, figs drop fruit, but after a drought, the bush quickly recovers.

I have not met any pests and diseases on figs, and thus - and chemical treatments, although the familiar gardeners periodically with anxiety sent photos of some pests inside these fruits.

Figs in the middle belt - growing in the open field and in a container
First figs on my container figs this year appeared in March. © Igor Bilevich

Growing figs in a container

If you still do not want to risk trying to grow figs in the open ground, but want to get a guaranteed harvest (and twice - in spring and summer), then try growing them in a tub. A 10-15-liter bucket will do (the bigger the better). Be sure to make holes in it for water drainage and fill it with a loose and nutritious mixture.

From May to September-October figs are kept outside in a sunny place, not forgetting to water regularly. With the onset of cold nights it is brought into a warm, bright room (placed on the southern window sill) and allow the autumn harvest to mature. At the beginning of winter it is removed to a cold cellar, where the figs should spend at least two months resting and gaining strength. In February it can be brought back into the warmth of the house and in May to wait for the first figs. Fully ripe they sort of lose a bit of firmness and become soft. These are the tastiest fruits harvested from their bushes. After all, they have reached maximum ripeness, and for sale they are removed a little in advance, and they ripen on the shelves.

By the way, in the south thanks to its leaves and size figs are also a decorative plant, but in our latitudes this advantage can be used only in the warm period. In winter, all these mounds of earth will not add decorative effect to your garden. Yes, and with a jar to drag in the basement is not for everyone to do.

In general, decide for yourself. But I grow figs and so, and all because of its delicious fruit. Moreover, they are eaten fresh, dried (dried), canned, make jam and jam.

Try it! It's even easier than growing grapes, and in fact grapes are grown now and in the North!

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