How do you measure success when you grow fruit trees? Is it how quickly you can pick the first harvest? Is it the quantity or the quality of the fruit that is produced? Perhaps is it more about how hard or easy it is to grow the tree and care for the crop that is produced.
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I am often asked which fruit trees are the easiest to grow in Canberra. It is often a leading question because the person asking that question is just waiting for some confirmation on their existing preferences. How do figs rate against all of the above?

They need particular care in the first two years after planting, especially if you have purchased the small trees from local garden centres. One of my pet hates is to see a tree bought from a nursery that has had its main roots cut back savagely to fit the rooting structures into a round plastic pot. In the good, old days this was never done.

The trees were brought in from the propagation nurseries and “heeled in” to deep garden beds with plenty of soil and sawdust to keep the roots moist and all roots intact.

Cutting off the main roots to fit into a garden pot may help garden centre staff with potting up remaining trees at the end of the winter season but it certainly doesn’t help the little fruit tree. It sets it back for one or two seasons and often leads to heartbreak when a few hot summers days or low water supplies wring the life out of it.

What has this got to do with fig trees in particular? Well, fig trees are generally priced at the upper end of the market range so if you happen to be sold a tree without a good root structure, including adequate small fibrous roots, and the tree dies on you before Christmas, you will be sad, and often become quite angry. It’s an opportunity lost to become a backyard garden producer of fine fruit.

Our biggest black genoa fig tree was the most productive tree in the entire fruit orchard this past year. We sold 25 kilograms of fresh figs from this tree, on our annual apple festival day and through the Capital Region Farmers Market.

We also made 65 jars of fig jam and exchanged several trays with friends who wished to try roasted caramelised fig desserts or simply eat the delicious fresh organic fig.

Once established, they are a pretty hardy fruit. They can withstand temperatures of minus 10 degrees Celsius during the winter dormant period but late frosts on the emerging new spring shoots will impact severely on the tree for the following season. They do take a number of years to fill out their branches and produce a reasonable crop, but good tree care and regular summer waterings will help to push the tree growth along.

You can hope to pick three or four figs from your little trees within three years of planting. A reasonable crop can be expected after six or seven years. And there are few pest problems, apart from keeping the birds away from the ripening fruit.

There is a simple solution at hand: netting. Farm-supply businesses like our local rural suppliers at Hall will sell you a length of the white netting. Buy a length that will cover the entire tree and have some left over to lay on the ground around the perimeter of the tree.

John and Dora Andonaris are our local fig experts. Their property is just south of Queanbeyan and they supply the Capital Region Farmers Market.

They will have well-rooted black genoa and Dora’s supreme figs for sale each Saturday from now until the end of October – well, until their stocks last.

Owen Pidgeon runs the Loriendale Organic Orchard near Hall.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

Categories : 杭州龙凤


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