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Enjoy a crop of fresh figs right from your garden13 October 2017
Figs were so important in Ancient Greece that their export was banned
Fresh figs probably originate from the Middle East and were first cultivated in Egypt. Their popularity spread throughout Ancient Greece and Rome. The poor Greeks relied on fresh figs for a good source of free food along with chickpeas and beans. They used them as a bread substitute and wrapped their fish and cheese in the leaves. The Romans may have brought them to the UK, but there remains no evidence that they successfully succeeded. The earliest figs were grown in Lambeth Palace in London during the 16th century. They were used to remedy a plethora of illnesses and today it has been proven that figs contain lectins and antioxidants.
How well do fresh figs grow in the UK?
Figs can easily be grown in the UK both indoors and outside for a delicious crop of fresh figs, sometimes two, depending on the type of tree. Local garden centres have many varieties of fig trees and their friendly, helpful staff can help you find the right one for your needs. There are hardy cultivars that will do very well outside against a sheltering wall, in a sunny spot, in any outside space. Many people grow them in pots so that they can move them inside during the cold winter months. In colder areas of the UK they can be protected with horticultural fleece during cold spells.
Here are some great varieties that will produce a delicious crop of fresh figs
- “Brown Turkey” is a beautiful fig tree that does well in a container indoors or outside in the ground. This is a classic fig tree, very popular in Britain, with a heavy crop of fresh figs.
- “White Marseilles” is a fig tree that produced very large fruits and when it is cultivated indoors it will fruit twice. It may also be planted outside for a single crop.
- “Brunswick” trees produce a large, sweet tasting fruit and will do well in the garden.
- “Madeline de Deux Saisons” is exactly what it says on the box and will provide 2 crops when it is planted outside in a sunny spot in the garden.
- “Sultane” is a very heavy cropping fig tree that produces deep mauve fruit with a delicious sweet flavour.
Fig trees need containing in order to supply plenty of fresh figs
Figs do fabulously well in a large pot or in the ground, but when you put a fig tree in the soil it is a good idea to use a root control bag so that the tree will provide more fruit instead of roots. A planting pit can be dug into the earth and walled with concrete slabs to contain root growth. At local garden centres, there will be a wide range of fig trees to choose from and their friendly staff are always on hand to help and advise you on buying the best possible tree to suit your space and on which fertilisers will help the tree to create a bumper fruit crop.