Tuesday, March 28, 2017

So What I've Learned About Figs & How to Grow Them

Above how one of my 2 trays of figs looked in November. Below, how the same tray looks now, after a winter on the windowsill.


Heigh bloomin' ho is all I can say. Lots of casualties, and nothing has grown any bigger than it was 5 months ago. I read somewhere recently that you think you're going to give plants a head start by growing them on the windowsill over winter, but it doesn't work like that, and by jingo that's right so far as these figs go.

So what I've learned is: a single dried fig produces many hundreds of viable seeds. They will germinate in a self-contained environment with a seed tray in a cat litter tray. Leave them in a glass of warm water over night, and then sow them in vermiculite only, on the surface, putting a sheet of cling film over the cat litter tray.

This will mean water doesn't evaporate away, and you only need to check on them occasionally. Which is just as well because they take up to 5 months to germinate.  This part of the process is done on a windowsill at home, because you want temperatures around 20C.

This year I will start this process around November, because then I will have a large number of seedlings to prick out of their vermiculite tray in late April next year, in the potting shed or poly tunnel, gradually hardening them off, and potting them on at some point later in the year.

I don't know yet how they will fare in the first winter at the allotment. The advice I've read is to keep them in pots for that, and give them some protection, maybe in the poly-tunnel, or under fleece. The following May, they can go into their place in the hedgerow.

Mind, this is unlikely to produce edible figs. The seeds in dried figs are probably from a type of plant which is only pollinated by a particular wasp, which we don't have in the UK. But the stubby wee flowers are still extremely attractive to all kinds of insects, and it should work great in a mixed hedgerow as an antidote to the jaggy gorse and brambles.