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Good Gardening: Figs

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These cold foggy days are a good time to dream about the sweet warm days of summer, and the bounty they bring. And the sweetest thing you can grow here is a fig.

Dried figs are great- and the prolific production of the proper fig will allow you to make plenty, but a fresh fig is a taste treat that many people have never had because they ripen into a soft succulent fruit on the tree, and don't last more than a day after they are picked.

To eat a truly ripe fresh fig, you should be able to see the tree it came from out your back- or front window.

Figs come in two types - single crop which produce one harvest in midsummer, and two crop figs which produce a crop in early summer, and another in fall until the rains start.

Spring is the time to plant, but you can prepare your spot now- the warmest spot in the yard for a two crop fig, and anywhere well drained for a one crop. Nurseries will have plants, but figs are also easy to air layer from an existing tree. Use a split plastic bottle or a plastic bag to hold moist potting soil against a branch on your friend's tree this spring, and by mid-summer you will be able to cut it off at the root filled soil clump and plant your own tree.

A one crop fig will often produce a second crop of hard figs that don't ripen, and the two crop figs can have reduced spring and fall production if the weather is too wet.

A fig doesn't need a lot of extra water, but irrigating a little in summer will give you bigger crops, and like all new trees, they will need regular watering the first few years.

Peters Honey is my favorite two crop, Brown Turkey and Desert King are the classic one crops but there are many others that do well here.

Some people don't like the texture of fresh figs, but give them a few tries and you'll find summer an even sweeter time of year.

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