Figs This Summer!

It’s official! My Chicago Hardy Fig is going to give me figs this summer, lots and lots and lots of figs!

Chicago Hardy Fig
Very happy Chicago Hardy fig.

This fig has only been in the ground for 2 years. This is her 3rd summer. And this year, she appears to have come into her own.

Baby figs on my Chicago Hardy fig tree
Baby figs on Chicago Hardy fig

Every single junction between stem and leaf has a nascent fig tucked into the crotch. If they all come in, I may be a bit overwhelmed but I will also be happily eating them, making jam with them and maybe even making fig newtons.

I have two other fig trees but they are true Mediterranean babies. They have to have hot days and warm nights and a lot of both to set fruit. In the 22 years they have been in my backyard garden, they have only produced edible figs 3 times!

I love these fig trees for the cover they provide but I really love to eat figs so I am excited to see just how many figs the Chicago Hardy fig tree will give me.

BTW, my figs and my blackberry canes appear to be of great interest to the Spotted Lantern Fly nymphs. While I struggle to figure out the best way to manage these pests, I spend some time every morning and evening, crushing them…with my fingers. It’s gruesome but it’s necessary.

One product I am considering is BotaniGard 22WP. The active ingredient in it is Beauveria Bassiana, a naturally occurring fungus. The fungus doesn’t kill the nymphs, immediately. It invades them and grows in their bodies which then kills them.

My only concern is that it is potentially pathogenic for honey bees, too. More information and exploration is needed but this may work against these invasive spotted killers.

Fig updates will be shared and I’m hoping they will be happy updates!


12 responses to “Figs This Summer!

  1. It seems early for the figs on new growth. I suppose the best figs take their time ripening. Will Chicago Hardy fig make a good set of early figs on the previous years growth when it gets older?

    • Ah, the future. I had not thought to ask that question. I think I just plan on things like my figs, blueberries, cherries and blackberries just moving ahead. My husband has been ill for 20 years so we take it one day at a time. We’ve been sheltering in place since February 27th when he was hospitalized with Type A flue. Now, he is just recovering from aspiration pneumonia….so we take each day as it comes….and hope/pray that life just continues.

      • You know, when I grew my common ‘Mission’ fig, I sort of let the tree tell me what it wanted to do. It is supposed to do well with both early and late figs, and it really did so in my garden. However, there were times when I pruned it more because it had grown a lot, and I got more late figs the following year. There were also times when it got pruned less, just because it grew less, and it produces more early figs the following year. I am supposed to be an expert, but sometimes, it seemed that the fig tree knew more about what it was doing than I did.

      • Tony are you a fig expert? I really hope so…because pruning is my figgy nemesis!! I could use some advice. With my 3 trees, I have just had to get ruthless. Every fall, every single “stick” gets cut back to 3 feet and all the “babies” sprouting from the ground are cut off. This is probably not the best approach for figs (or any fruiting bush or tree) but if I don’t cut them back, they are 20 feet high the next summer!! Is there one good way to prune or, as you said, does each fig tree tell you what it wants?

      • Well, I am no expert. I grew up with the last stone fruit orchards of the Santa Clara Valley, but figs were something that were merely grown in home gardens. The few that I remember, and grow now, have very distinct personalities. Over time, I got acquainted with them, and learned how to prune them. Those that produce a better early set of figs should get pruned less if possible, but they do not always afford that option if they grow too vigorously. Those that produce a better late set of figs can get pruned very aggressively or even pollarded. A tree that produces canes that get twenty feet high in a season does not leave you with many options for pruning. Aggressive pruning is necessary. Fortunately, cultivars that are that vigorous also tend to be the same cultivars that produce a better set of late figs, so respond well to aggressive pruning. The development of new figs on new growth so early in the season is another indication that the tree in the picture likely produces better late figs, rather than early figs that would be appearing on the three foot long ‘stick’s from last year. If you leave ‘stick’s that are three feet long, they should be long enough for the early figs too. If the cultivar happens to be the sort that makes good early figs, you should see them developing on the old stems from last year. If you have not seen more than a few early figs in the past few years, the trees may not want to produce early figs, so could be pruned back even more aggressively over winter, without leaving three foot long ‘stick’s. Now, if the tree is making plenty of late figs on new growth, but dropping them before they ripen, that is a completely different problem. The tree may be getting watered too generously, or may not be getting enough warmth through summer. If possible, the watersprouts around the trunk should be pulled from the roots. It sounds brutal, but the procedure removes some of the callus growth that will produce more of the same watersprouts the following year. Pruning them off at the ground is not a problem, and is like they only option if they are too solidly attached, but it leaves all of the callus growth for more watersprouts to develop from later.

      • Wow! That’s a lot of information!! I love your statement that you have gotten to know the figs you grow! I feel that way about many of my other fruit trees and bushes. And I love the information and insight you have shared and will probably have to read it a couple of times for the logic and wisdom to sink in! I think you culd safely call yourself and expert. Thanks Tony!

      • Well, these are trees that I have known since I was a little kid. I would not know what an unfamiliar tree would need. I could figure it out, especially if I could research the cultivar, but it would not be within one year.

      • I’d say that answer qualifies you as an expert! I would not have thought about the cultivar or the tree…just the “figiness” of it!

  2. Congratulations on the figs! My fig tree is a “Mediterranean Baby” (as you described some of yours) and I am expecting TWO figs this year.
    Enjoy your bounty! Look forward to updates.

    • I loved the Mediterranean babies when they produced but they take up a lot of real estate and deliver shade! It’s okay, thought. I love their shape and I love the fact that my neighbor’s children, although 1/4 of an acre away…cannot peer into my office. I like to feel sheltered and the figs do it. So no fruit is a trade off. Get a Chicago Hardy fig and see what it does! I was impressed that last summer I probably got 20 figs – her first full year in the ground.

  3. Congratulations on the figs! They look healthy and I love them too. Maybe one day!
    I didn’t know about your pest and was a little alarmed to see this from the PA Dept. of Ag: “If you see a Spotted Lanternfly, it’s imperative to immediately report it online or via phone by calling 1-888-4BADFLY. Especially if you are not inside the quarantine zone.”
    We have few problem pests in Colorado because it’s so dry here.

    • Love this fig! Gigi is pretty healthy and she seems to like the soil and the spot in the garden. She gets full sun all day long and I do water her as needed, probably every other week. Thanks for the phone number. I will call it today and leave my name and address. I think I am in the zone but you never know! Happy gardening!

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