Ripe figs picked today
Figs are not a crop many gardeners think of in our part of the country (the Ozarks Mountains of Missouri/Arkansas). Probably 34 years ago when I moved here, and we were still solidly in Zone 6, figs wouldn't have survived. Over that time, we've slipped into Zone 7-a as the climate has changed. Like most gardeners, I like to try to grow things I supposedly can't. As a long time fan of figs, I started my first fig plants in the 1980s just to see if I could grow them.

Brunswick figs ripening on the stem.
You may or may not know that figs can't be picked early, like peaches, then left to ripen. They have to be picked when they are completely ripe. That means soft, ripe figs don't ship well as they only have about 3 days of freshness before they start to get mushy.

I don't do anything special for any of my figs. I used to mulch them heavily, wrap leaves and straw around the stems, but the efforts were, well, fruitless. Brunswick is a fig that in our climate dies to the ground each winter, no matter what you do. And each year it sends up new stems and the figs begin ripening in late August.

Constantine figs ripen throughout the summer and fall.
The next fig I added was Constantine. This is a large bush fig (most figs are substantial bushes or small trees). Mine reached about 12 tall. I had to move it, and had a back hoe dig it up and put it in a new, better location. This year, its first year in the new spot, it has grown to over 8 feet tall and has produced a small but good crop of figs.
Constantine figs and leaf.
You can tell the variety of fig by its leaf. Each kind of fig has its own distinctive leaf. If you look close, you can see the difference in the one above, and the Brunswick below. The leaves are the same size, but the size of the figs on Brunswick are much larger than on the Constantine plant.
Brunswick ripe figs and leaf.
Brown Turkey Fig leaves.
I'm also growing Brown Turkey fig but the few figs it had were gobbled up by a squirrel before I got to them. Brown Turkey figs aren't as tasty as the others, above.
Chicago Hardy fig.
Friends at Bear Creek Farm gave me a pair of Chicago Hardy fig plants and they've been producing figs even while still in the pots! Their figs are small like Constantine, but sweet and produce bountiful crops.

I have a new book just out. If you follow the link you'll see more details. Customers have been asking for this title for several years so I finally got it off my desk and published.

If you are anywhere in the vicinity of the National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa, CA, come by my booth and say hi, or come to my program. The Expo runs from Sep 11 - 13 at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds. See you back here in a week.


detroit dog said...

A neighbor of mine, here on the border of Detroit, has had a fig tree for several decades. It's a rather twisted tree (half fallen over?) and located behind her garage, but it still fruits. It's wonderful.

Sharon Lovejoy said...

The mockingbirds and I are tussling over who gets the biggest harvest.

My brown turkey figs are at their prime. I have my grandmother's old recipe for preserving them. Think I'll give it a try.

Miss and adore you,


Anonymous said...

Hey Jim,

Where did you purchase your Constantine fig tree from? Also, do you happen to remember the purchase price?

Thank you!