In January last year I wrote the article A Frost-Pruned Fig Tree, and What Happened Next and talked about the signs of recovery that our back garden fig tree had shown after losing most of its growing tips to a hard and very late frost in May 2021.
Roughly two and a half years, I’m delighted to report that the tree has continued to make very good progress indeed. Here’s how it’s looking today, in comparison to how it was back in July 2021:
Obviously I took the photos from different angles, but as you can see, the tree has more than doubled in height1Aided, no doubt, by the fact that some of its roots have escaped from the concrete slab and roof tile fig-pit that I originally planted it in., and I’ve been able to crown-lift it by removing a few awkwardly-placed lower branches, and then train several of its new branches onto horizontal wires that I fitted to the shed last year.
I’m also very happy to report that the tree has fruited well for the past couple of years. This year we had around two dozen absolutely delicious figs that ripened up a treat in the August warmth, after fattening nicely in the July rain that this year sent us. Luckily for us they ripened in stages, a few at a time, so we could enjoy them over the course of a few weeks. And enjoy them we did; with ice cream, on porridge, or just fresh, sticky and delicious, straight off the tree.
As is normal for Ficus carica, once I’d harvested the last of the ripe fruit it started to grow a second round of fruitlets. They’ve developed quite well in our warm, sometimes-soggy September weather, but there’s no chance that they’ll reach full size and ripen up before the temperatures start to plummet, so they’ll all have to be removed before the onset of winter proper, to reduce the risk of damaged fruits rotting and becoming a breeding ground for fungal disease.
As you can see though, at the very top of the branch in this next image, yet another generation of tiny fruit buds are developing, which will hopefully swell and grow into next year’s summer crop:
In that earlier article I talked about attempting to propagate a section of the tree via the moss-ball air-layering method. I tried, but the attempt failed. I think I was too ambitious. The section of the tree that I selected was too large, and the roots that developed inside the air-layering moss-ball were too weak to support it once I cut it away from the tree and potted it up.
So of course, I’m going to have another go next year. I’ve identified the branch below – which is much smaller, and is growing out away from the main branch at an angle that makes it awkward to work around, meaning it’ll have to be removed at some point anyhow – as the candidate for propagation:
I’ve already removed the fruitlets from the branch, to keep them from developing further. Next spring I’ll follow the moss-ball method again and, all being well, I’ll be able to establish the new tree down at the allotment in the spring following. With luck, and no more late frosts, I might be harvesting delicious fresh figs from that tree from the summer of 2026 onwards. Wish me luck!
- 1Aided, no doubt, by the fact that some of its roots have escaped from the concrete slab and roof tile fig-pit that I originally planted it in.