Throughout the South you will find fig trees. Their canopy is welcome shade from the blazing summer sun. If you have the room, by all means, plant a full sized fig. However, please understand, when I say “if you have the room” you must have plenty of room for a full sized fig tree. These trees grow very quickly to fifteen – thirty feet tall and wide. Yes, you can have a party in the shade of this tree! I know, because I’ve been to one! I attended a delightful fish fry underneath a fig tree once. It was a terribly hot day until we sat under that tree. Has there been some scientific study to prove that the shade from a fig tree is cooler than the shade from other trees? I wonder…
But the fig tree does more than grow tall and wide quickly. It also grows big roots. I don’t mean just sort-of big. I mean really big – like two or three times as big as it is wide. That’s why people who know about fig trees plant the tree in a bottomless pot, or better yet, a pot with only part of the bottom broken out. This forces the plant to send its roots straight down instead of out.
Yes, having a full sized fig tree is lovely. The best part is all the figs you’ll get. You end up having to put some up in jars but that’s okay because then you have plenty for the winter. Even so there will be enough left for your friends. Ahhh, it is nice to be able to share! You become so popular when you have a fig tree!
Unfortunately, life doesn’t always allow us the luxury of a fig tree. The space needed for such tree isn’t available for those of us who live in the city. We sigh and hope that our country friends will put us at the top of their fig list. If only…
Stop it! There is hope! There is a tree that will satisfy at least some of our needs. While it won’t provide the wonderful shade, neither will the roots be a problem. There will be enough figs for us, well, no. There are probably never enough figs for us because we are greedy, but there are some nice figs, and we are content.
The tree is the Dwarf Black Fig Tree, or Ficus Petite Negra. We bought ours from Park Seed quite a few years ago, and it went several years before it gave us a fig. I’m not going to give you a Bible lesson here, but it does seem interesting that it was three years with no figs, then we moved the darn thing, and voila! Figs. It just wasn’t getting enough sun.
It is a very hardy plant. We were surprised at how tiny it was when we bought it, but we thought, okay, it’s a fig, so maybe it will grow fast. Well, it probably would have grown fast if we had put it in a sunnier spot. But we put it in a pot in a spot where it wasn’t happy. It didn’t get sickly or anything, but it just didn’t do anything. So we moved it from the pot and planted it in the ground. But we weren’t listening to the plant. We thought the plant wasn’t thriving because it was in the pot when really it was because it needed more sun. So we planted it in an equally shady place. This time it did grow but no figs. What a disappointment!
Finally, after three years, and after our maple tree was cut down, we moved the fig tree to the sunny side of the yard. A miracle! Figs! Lots of figs! Joy! Rapture! And the tastiest figs you ever put in your mouth! The black flesh is tender and the red pulp is sweet.
I think we city gardeners are always looking for ways to have a mini plantation in our back yards. Many of us are frustrated farmers. I know I am. This little fig tree satisfies that itch just a bit.
Now if modern science could just find a way so that rhubarb could tolerate the coastal heat, I could farm in my back yard totally happy.
Bible, Luke 13:6-9