March 10 - 16, 2019: Issue 396


Fruits Of Your Garden: Growing Figs

Early Autumn is a time when we're either harvesting vegetables and fruits from our gardens or thinking about planting out new crops for Winter harvests or looking after what's already coming to the end of its season so we may enjoy fruits next year.

It's a time to feed and prune some plants, particularly fruit trees, prior to colder weather and while the soil is still warm.

Fig trees can also be grown to fruit-bearing size in a pot, so you don't even need a yard to have one - just enough space for it to grow. What's more, these are among the easiest of the fruit trees that can be grown, so they are a great way to engage youngsters in the wonderful world of growing their own food and tasting the yummy results. 

The above fig tree was grown from a cutting of a particularly sweet tree growing in the garden of a friend in Victoria and has grown that much, and is now producing fruit, in just three years. A freshly cut fig branch can be placed in the ground, where it will root, grow, and eventually produce lots of the very same fruit borne by its mother tree - one way to ensure you have some of the best quality fruit available.

Growing a Fig Tree from a Cutting

Most gardeners would advise you take a cutting during Winter when the tree is dormant. Take pieces around 25cm long, cutting just below a node. Dip these cuttings into a honey and then push them into a deep pot filled with propagation mix, or just push into the ground in a shaded position. Leave only two or three buds above the soil. Keep the cuttings moist and in a shady position until the first leaves appear, then feed them with some compost tea or worm juice as well as seaweed extract.

About two months after the first leaves appear, when the small tree is growing strongly, carefully dig up or re-pot (disturbing the roots as little as possible) into a pot filled with a good potting mix combined with rich compost. Water them well with seaweed extract to minimise transplant shock and leave in a semi-shaded position. Plant your new fig tree into its final position the following Autumn or Winter. When you are planting, dig a wheelbarrow load of compost and well-rotted manure into the soil first. Add 1-2 handfuls of dolomite lime if your soil is acid and work that through too. Plant and water well.

Fruit and flowers

Most figs now grown in Australia are self-fertile, also known as persistent or common figs. You will never actually see fig flowers as they develop inside the fruit. The fruit (more correctly called synconia) of self-fertile types contains only female flowers and it develops without being pollinated. Other types of figs are known as Smyrna and San Pedro generally require a fig wasp to cross-pollinate with Capri figs before edible fruit will develop.

Many figs will have two crops, the first is known as the “breba” crop. This grows in Spring from the previous year’s wood. Small figs will often form on the ends of branches in Autumn, stay on the tree right though Winter and then develop ready to be harvested in December and January. These breba figs are often bigger than the later, larger crop, known as the “higos” or main crop. This later crop grows on the new season’s wood and is harvested from February to June.

Figs are best picked and eaten straight from the tree. Wait until their full colour (purple, brown, green or yellow depending on the fig type) appears and they begin to soften. 

Pruning and restricting

Figs are always pruned in winter and these prunings can be used as cuttings. Traditionally they are pruned to a vase shape, open in the middle with four or five main structural branches. Every Winter remove any broken, overlapping or diseased branches and then lightly prune the whole tree, cutting back any particularly long branches by about half.

Every few years, prune more heavily (up to two-thirds) to encourage enough new wood for a good crop. If your tree produces a breba crop, then leave some of the old wood for this crop and prune these branches the following year.

If you want to plant your fig into the ground, but need to keep the tree small, then dig a pit 1m squared, line it with bricks or stones to restrict the roots and then fill and plant in the same way as for a pot. 

How to Grow Figs 

When it comes to fig tree care, you should know that growing fig trees requires well-drained and fertile soil. The best soil for growing fig trees would be loamy soil that has plenty of organic matter cut through it. Be sure the area gets plenty of moisture but don't drown your fig tree. The perfect pH for growing fig trees is a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5. 


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When to Plant Fig Trees 

For good fig tree care, remember that a northern exposure keeps your fig trees dormant until the time comes that they should be blooming. You can set your dormant, bare-rooted trees out in late Autumn to early Spring. For easy fig tree maintenance, you should choose fig trees that are free of root-knot nematodes. Fig tree maintenance is not a lot of work. Fig trees like full sunlight and adequate room for growth. You can plant your growing fig trees about 15 to 20 feet apart(if you want more than one). 

Make sure you choose a position that has shelter from the wind, no sewer pipes the roots of the tree may disturb, and has a well drained soil

Fig Tree Care 

Be careful not to have too much nitrogen in the soil. Fig trees will require a good 'feed' every two years, although some gardeners advocate a good fruit fertilser feed once a year for ground grown fig trees and March, December and the first month of spring for pot grown fig trees.

Figs grown in Pots Care

Figs can produce more fruit when root-bound so grow well in pots. In fact some gardeners go as far as to construct figs in ‘fig pits' - square holes in the ground, as described above, to restrict root growth. Keep your potted figs well watered, and prune hard each year. At the annual prune scrape away  a third of the soil from the top of the pot and replace with fresh potting mix.

Here are some things to keep in mind while selecting, planting and caring for your fig tree:

  • Pick the right variety for your yard and climate. 
  • Choose a sunny, warm spot to plant. Plant your fig tree in a location where it receives at least eight hours of direct sunlight each day to ensure that the fruit ripens properly. A bright, south-facing location typically provides enough light for your fig tree to thrive.
  • Give them space to grow. 
  • Don't over-water or over-fertilise. Although the watering needs of a fig tree depend largely on the soil and the weather, a general rule is that a fig tree needs 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water each week. Keep the soil around your fig tree moist but not soaked.
  • Protect the tree from cold. 
  • Deter birds by using plastic snakes, owls or disco mirror balls as bird scarers.
  • If high humidity causes fungus on the foliage spray with a fungicide.


  • White Adriatic: a large tree suited to warmer climates. Fruit is brown/green with deep-pink flesh and a wonderful flavour.
  • Black Genoa : a vigorous tree; large purple fruit has dark red, sweet flesh.
  • Brown Turkey: a hardy fig with purple/brown skin and pink sweet flesh.
  • White Genoa: yellow-green skin, amber flesh and a mild flavour. Grows well in cooler areas.

Some tools to help you get it done:



Organic pelletised fertiliser. Can be used on all plant types. Easy to use and apply. Slow release, increases earthworm activity.

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Wooden handles. 150mm solid wheel.

Green Life Garden Centre at Johnson Brothers Mona Vale

Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 New Store
73 Bassett Street
Mona Vale - Online Store: Jbhmv.Com.Au

Products advice is available from the trained friendly staff at Narrabeen, Mona Vale and Avalon Johnson Brothers Mitre 10. 

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All information and tips in this publication are of a general nature only and neither Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 or Pittwater Online News does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information and tips in this publication. This publication is not intended to be a substitute for expert advice. Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 advises you to always consult an experienced and qualified person when undertaking jobs of this kind (including consulting a qualified tradesperson such as an electrician or plumber where relevant expert services are required). 

You should also consider any safety precautions that may be necessary when undertaking the work described in this publication (including wearing any necessary safety equipment such as safety glasses, goggles or ear protectors or hard hats). The information and tips in this publication are provided on the basis that Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 and Pittwater Online News excludes all liability for any loss or damage which is suffered or incurred (including, but not limited to, indirect and consequential loss or damage and whether or not such loss or damage could have been foreseen) for any personal injury or damage to property whatsoever resulting from the use of the information and tips in this publication. 

Pittwater Online News and Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 also advises there may be laws, regulations or by-laws with which you must comply when undertaking the work described in this publication. You should obtain all necessary permissions and permits from council and/or any other relevant statutory body or authority before carrying out any work. Major projects published in this publication always list these and/orlinks to where you may research what your own project requires to meet regulations.

Previous DIY Pages:

Decking Timbers  Caring For Your Deck Decking Finishes  Privacy Screens I Privacy Screens II  Privacy Screening Hardwoods  Autumn Paths and Lawns  Insulation Batts Plasterboard  Ventilation - Edmond's Ecofan Blackboards for Children and Home Spring Lawn Care  Shade Sails & Watering  Basic DIY Tools DIY Tools - Power Drills Recycle Your Trampoline into An Air Bed  How to Build Your Own Backyard Cricket Pitch Christmas Lights Displays around House and Garden Summer Mildew - Refresh, Renew How to Fix Things That Drip and Bump in the Night Time To Plant Winter Vegetables in  a Raised Garden Beds Layout Organsing Your Tool Shed  Make Your Own Weathervane Installing A Garden Watering System  Decking Oils  How To Make Garden Compost  How To Winter proof Your Lawn  How to create Shabby Chic effect on Timber Furniture How to Build Your Own Raised Garden Bed  Growing Your Own Winter Vegies  Winter Heating Guide  Prepare Your Yard For Winter Eradicating Noxious Weeds From Your Yard How to Fix Furniture Finishes Part I  How to Repair Scratches, Dings, and Dents of Furniture Surfaces - Part II Winter Draughts Fix  Classic Wooden Tool Carrier Spring Garden Checklist Part I  Install Your Own Skylight  Retaining Walls for Saving Soil and New Spring Garden Beds  Summer Salad Garden  Native Plant Garden for A Fairy Arbour Renewing Short Flight of Exterior Stairs Deck Maintenance DIY Summer Tasks You Can Do In Time to Get to the Beach  Garden Ponds for Attracting Birdlife, Dragonflies and for the Soothing Sounds of Water  Salt Air: Maintenance and Protection Creating an Outdoor Dining Arbour, Gazebo or Patio - Part I Creating an Outdor Dining Arbour, Gazebo or Patio Part II  Autumn Garden Tasks  Autumn DIY Jobs: Waterproof Your Home Checklist  Dealing With Dampness Inside the Home  Fixing Your Fence  Repairing and Replacing Damaged Decking boards  DIY Toy Box and Snow Globes: School Holidays Fun - Winter 2015  DIY Wooden Toy Cars and Perfect Painted Flowerpots: School Holiday Fun - Winter 2015  Shoring Up an Under House Earth Bank – Installing a Basic Retaining Wall  DIY One Shelf Sideboard  Early Spring 2015 Garden Care Salad Garden For Children  Keeping Your Garden and Home Cool in Hot Weather  Classic Beach Garden and Camping Chairs 3 Portable Versions Anyone Can Make DIY Outdoor Furniture Mark I: Park Benches for Your Garden Make Your Own Scooter or Skateboard: Summer 2016 Fun  How to Install a Solid Core Door and Door Furniture  Summer Garden Jobs: Pruning A Hedge  How to Make A Swing Chair - With A Frame for Garden Setting  Garden Jobs for March to Make A Beautiful and Healthy Spring  Keeping Outdoor Nooks Warm During Cooler Months  Children’s Step Stool with Storage  Stop Winter Rain Lawn Loss and Soil Erosion on Slopes  DIY Garden Shed: Part 1 of 4 - Base  DIY Garden Shed: Part 2 - Framing Walls  DIY Garden Shed: Part 2b - Gable Roof Framing  Garden Shed Part 3: Roof Installation  DIY Garden Shed: Weather- boards - Door And Window Installation And Paint Finish DIY Coffee Table With Chessboard Inlay  Spring Gardening: Feeding Your Soil And Plants - What Works For Each Plant  DIY Sandstone Flagging Parking Area - Platform  DIY Pre-Summer Checklist For A Safe Home   Summer Spruce Up: Interior Paint Tips and Three easy steps to rejuvenate your timber deck The Perfect BBQ Garden Setting DIY Water Wise Garden   DIY Side Gates  DIY Storm Preparation And Home Protection  One To Two Day DIY Weekend Spruce Ups  Vegepods For Autumn Planting + Easy To Make Lego Table Or Student Desk That Can Be Dismantled + Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Online Store   Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Great New Mona Vale Store: Still In Bassett Street - number 73  Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 New Mona Vale Store: The Greenlife Garden Centre  Go Outside And Play: Creating Garden Spaces To Connect Children With Nature DIY Plasterboard Repair DIY Dolls House Or Garage Or Boatshed  DIY Child's Waggon - or use as a large planter mover DIY Bathroom Refresh: Zing For Spring  Tips for Growing a Native Garden FireCrunch, Australian Developed Fire-proof, Sustainable, Durable and Reliable Building Board Now Available at Johnson Bros. at Mona Vale and Narrabeen School Holidays DIY Ideas for Children: Little Vegetables Garden, Swing, Windchimes Bushfire Season Preparation 2017: Home and Outdoor Areas  Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Trade Centre at Mona Vale + Issue No 1 of Mitre 10’s inSITE Magazine for Tradies and Handymen  Preparing Al Fresco Areas for Christmas Get-Togethers and Summer Visitors  Summer De-bug; 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John and Bob Johnson - The Johnson Brothers Profile  John William Alfred Johnson - The Eulogies for those who could not attend Mass

Australia's Prime Minister Visits Mackellar - Informal Afternoon Tea with Hon. Malcolm Turnbull October 2016

JBH August Awards 2018 Trifecta

Front Page Issue 294: 2018 Winners Of National Hardware Store Of The Year - Johnson Bros Mitre 10 Mona Vale !!!