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Dreaming of Figs

July 28th, 2011

Two years ago I ordered a ‘Hardy Chicago’ Fig from Richter’s Herbs. I’ve read that I could grow it in my garden on a Southern slop with winter protection, but I’m not about to risk losing the plant. I have it planted in a large pot and it gets lugged down to the basement during the long cold winters in my zone 5 garden. This summer it has finally taken off, it’s HUGE. Now that it’s so large I’m going to take a cutting and I’ll try planting that in a protected spot next summer to see if it overwinters successfully.

A week or two ago I was watering my fig tree when I noticed a tiny fig. It’s quite exciting when a plant fruits for the first time in your garden. I’ll be keeping my eye on this little fig waiting and watching for it to ripen (hopefully that won’t happen while I’m on vacation).

Last summer I acquired another fig, a ‘Brunswick’ that I purchased at Monticello. Eliot Coleman talks about overwintering figs in cold climates in his book Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long. That’s where I first got the idea and decided to give it a try. It’s actually not very difficult because I simply put the pots by my seed starting area and move them outside again in late February.

Do you have any exotic fruits or vegetables that you try growing in your garden?

25 Comments to “Dreaming of Figs”
  1. KimH on July 28, 2011 at 5:11 am

    No, but I’d love to have that fig.. I grew up where they were huge bushes and spent the first 16 years of my life eating them right off the tree.. heavenly delight. Nothing you can buy even comes remotely close since they dont travel well and they tend to pick them a little green.. The flavor they develop on the tree never comes thru..

    The closest thing I have that isnt supposed to do well here is a rosemary I have in a pot. I just leave the pots outside in the weather all winter under a tree in my little woodland garden and its been coming thru for at least 6 years. I had several rosemary in the ground that would survive a couple years but none lived longer than 3 years.. Not sure why that potted one is.. but Im sure glad. :D

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  2. Lisa@ The Cutting Edge of Ordinary on July 28, 2011 at 6:42 am

    I’ve had my fig 2 years now and I’m still waiting on fruit! Lucky you!

    Reply to Lisa@ The Cutting Edge of Ordinary's comment

  3. kristin @ going country on July 28, 2011 at 6:49 am

    We had a fig tree for a few years–one year we actually got about seven figs from it. Then this year we decided to plant it in a sheltered spot in the garden because we were tired of hauling it up and down the cellar steps for the winter. Ours was supposed to be hardy enough for here too. Maybe it is, but we’ll never know. It didn’t survive the transplant.

    The MiL bought the fig for me, because I love them, but I think MY next tree that will have to be stored inside for the winter is going to be a citrus tree of some kind, like a Meyer lemon. I love citrus even more than figs.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  4. iris on July 28, 2011 at 7:05 am

    Oh man, fig season can’t come soon enough!

    Reply to iris's comment

  5. Sue Nugent on July 28, 2011 at 7:10 am

    I love fig preserves. My Mom’s family in South Louisiana grow them and occasionally I will request them to bring me a few. A couple of years ago,they brought me a gallon bag full.Wow!They were superb.I may try growing myself a tree since you have gotten me to thinking of them once more.

    Reply to Sue Nugent's comment

  6. Gabe on July 28, 2011 at 8:36 am

    Sounds good, I look forward to the updates! Several years ago, when I was still a newbie, I tried one of those dwarf lemons. It lived for maybe six months. My parents have a Meyer lemon that has survived for a couple years, and they got several fruits on it last year, so eventually, I’d like to try again!

    Reply to Gabe's comment

  7. Jeff on July 28, 2011 at 9:06 am

    I don’t think there is anything as majestic as a mature fig tree. They are absolutely beautiful and believe it or not, they do well in the desert if cared for properly!

    Reply to Jeff's comment

  8. Allison on July 28, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Nope, not unless you cout the Quince trees in the orchard….which aren’t really exotic, just less common! My mom has a fig tree she hauls inside each year and it is HUGE.

    I agree with Kristin; I’d like to try a Myer Lemon Tree!!

    Reply to Allison's comment

  9. Lisa on July 28, 2011 at 10:53 am

    I have that herbal plant in our backyard. My mother call it as “tuba-tuba”. By the way, I’m from the Philippines. My mother used it as a medicine when we have gas problem in our tummy.

    Reply to Lisa's comment

  10. Alyssa on July 28, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I have a little orange tree I received for Christmas two years ago. I bring it outside once the temperature warms up and it loves it! In the fall when I bring it in the entire tree bursts with the most beautiful smelling blossoms. I think this year I might try replanting into a larger pot in hopes it can keep growing. I never expect oranges but the green leaves all year long cheer me up during our long (Long!) rainy season.

    Reply to Alyssa's comment

  11. Lee on July 28, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Does chirimoya count as exotic? I’ve noticed here in the U.S. it’s called cherimoya. I planted the seed a while ago and it started to fruit in no time.
    Unfortunately there are no natural pollinators here so you have to do it yourself with a brush, otherwise you get very few chirimoyas.

    Reply to Lee's comment

  12. Sarah Jane on July 28, 2011 at 11:40 am

    It’s fig season here, I don’t have any fruit trees but I know of three different places to pick some. There is a creek that runs by our townhouse and a bit futher down there are lot of fruit trees to pick from. There are figs, lots of cherry trees, plums that look exactly like cherries, an apple tree (don’t know how they taste yet), nectarines, pears, walnuts and olives. We also have blackberries growing like weeds which are about ripe.

    Reply to Sarah Jane's comment

  13. Lynda on July 28, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Figs grow wild here. I take cuttings and give them away! My husband saw them in my growing out nursery and he asked me why I wanted to grow those “weeds”!

    My most exotic plant that I really have to baby is my avacado trees…I fuss with them all of the time. I’ve only had them a season and I’ve almost lost them a couple of times…they are planted out in the fruit orchard and I’ll have to cover them this winter.

    Reply to Lynda's comment

  14. sarah on July 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I have a fig tree that I kept indoors in winter in Chicago. I’d love to hear more about how to grow from a cutting.

    I also had a meyer lemon mini-tree but it didn’t last the winter. My friends keep a mini-orange tree that makes TONS of tiny oranges in their windowsill in Chicago.

    Reply to sarah's comment

  15. MAYBELLINE on July 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    Love the veins on the fig leaves.
    My fig is a volunteer most likely started by a passing (pun intended) bird. A fruit began to form this year but have disappeared. I blame a passing bird for swiping my fig.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

    • Susy on July 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm

      Maybe now someone else will have a fig tree growing in their garden!

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • KimH on July 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm

        If I had enough room & light in my house, I’d get a potted fig in a heartbeat.. but my house is already filled with plants and theres definitely no space left except upstairs and I dont go up there often.. It’d probably die of thirst. ;)

        to KimH's comment

      • KimH on July 28, 2011 at 3:33 pm

        I had to go back & read that again… You know.. maybe, just maybe.. if it can survive Chicago, it could survive here.. We’re right by Lake Erie. We have a tad bit of a milder climate right here next to the lake than they do in the snow belt just a few miles inland.. I’ll have to ponder it a while, cuz I would really REALLY love to have fresh figs!

        to KimH's comment

  16. Sincerely,Emily on July 28, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    I don’t have anything real exotic growing here. I do have a large fig bush. I produces very small figs and very few also. I love the shade it provides on the SW corner of the house. I have planted another fig and have a few more years before I will see fruit. Can’t wait. I hope your fig doe swell for you. That is very exciting. I love the big fig leaves on my bush and also the smell that comes off them. Almost a sweet live smell. Hard to describe. Emily

    Reply to Sincerely,Emily's comment

  17. Jane on July 28, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    I planted my fig tree in June (it was a b-day gift) and I have one fig so far. I can’t wait. They said, it can be planted….now everyone has me worried! I live in St. Louis so it does get cold here. I will be putting mulch on it.

    We also have a lemon tree and a lime tree….got them at a local hardware store for .99 and now they are 3′ tall, we do bring them inside I know they won’t make it. Oh and no fruit yet from what I have read about 5 year so this is year 2!

    We can’t grow alot of stuff the animals eat everything, the fig tree the deer don’t like….yeah!

    Love your garden….I do onions and garlic stuff the animals won’t eat. They do LOVE the hot, hot peppers also. I’ve tried.

    Reply to Jane's comment

  18. Jodiana on July 31, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I bought my house 6 years ago and set about planting many fruiting plants. I have 2 PawPaw trees, 3 kiwi and then the usual nectarines, dwarf cherry, blueberries, raspberries, grapes and strawberries. I figure in a few more years I will have a complete fruit salad! :) Figs have always been on that list, but my basement was to dark. I just got the windows down there glassblocked and it’s much brighter….it may be time to get one.

    Reply to Jodiana's comment

  19. Marilyn on August 1, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Love your beautiful pictures. I have a fig tree planted in pot (it gave me 21 medium size figs this summer). Hope next year will be better.
    I also have a Meyer lemon tree (presently has 21 beautiful huge lemons), 1 kumquat tree (3 yrs. old and fully loaded), 1 plumelo tree (2 years old-no fruit), 1 guava tree (2 years old -no fruit) and a 1 rainer cherry tree (no fruit because I don’t have a pollinator).

    All my tree are in extra large to large pots because I only have small section of dirt in my yard and I use that for food gardening. But I have been fortunate to yield fruit from certain ones. Next year, I’ll buy a mate for the rainer cherry because it so full of blooms when she is in season around March, April.

    Reply to Marilyn's comment

    • Susy on August 1, 2011 at 5:41 pm

      I have a few citrus trees in pots as well, no blooms or fruit yet – but they’re all still fairly young. Hopefully next year!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  20. Karen on August 3, 2011 at 12:59 am

    How often do you water them after you bring them indoors? I just got my first baby fig trees this year. I’m really hoping I can keep them alive over winter!

    Reply to Karen's comment

    • Susy on August 3, 2011 at 7:40 am

      I don’t really water them much. I let them go dry and be dry for most of the winter (they lose their leaves so they kind of go dormant). About mid-January or February I start watering again and leaves start to emerge.

      Reply to Susy's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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