Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ripening, who… little old me?

One of the things I like about growing food plants in my backyard is watching "how" they grow and come to maturity. Our fig tree is a marvel in the way its fruits suddenly swell and ripen, and January is always our "fig glut" time of year here in Sydney, when our fig supply is a time of plenty.

The baby figs appear back in spring, then slowly grow as green little blobs all through spring and the first month of summer. And then just one or two of them decide it's time to ripen. The others stay smallish and green while the ripening ones swell up like a balloon and change colour in just a matter of days. These smaller, green fig-ettes are a bit like people queuing, waiting their turn to have a go.

This is what I mean. The ripening one is on the left, while the
others pretend it's none of their business.
And seen from another angle, the size difference occurs almost
overnight. This one will be picked soon, before the birds get
at it, and once brought inside, our resident fig aficionado,
Pammy, knows what to do next. Over coming days and weeks
they will all ripen, picking up the pace so a small bowl full
will be harvested each time, but the fascinating thing is how
they ripen in turns, rather than all at the same time.
Our fig tree is still only small, as it's in a pot.
It's about three years old and it hasn't been a
stellar performer, but this year it has grown
a bit more and has its best crop so far. It
probably will be put into a bigger pot next winter.
The variety of fig we have here is called 'Turkish Brown' and as the fruits ripen they change from green to a rich brown tinged with some burgundy-red. They might not be the world's favourite fruit but if you develop a taste for them, like we have, summer here in Sydney is a deliciously foggy time of year.


Therese said...

Love your witty writing Jamie and envy you your figs! Will have to buy a tree myself to since we absolutely love figs.

Jamie said...

Thanks Therese. Figs are easy to grow, and they are terrific in pots as well as in the ground, but they do need a big pot.

Amy Crumbs said...

I buy dried figs and eat them every morning at work on my coffee break - delicious! I wonder if it would be hard to dry your own? I would love a fig tree and I'm pleased to see yours is producing fruit in a pot. I need to get my hands on one.

Jamie said...

From what I've been told, figs are an ideal choice for pots, as they have the reputation of doing a bit better once their roots have grown to fill the pot and are effectively a bit constricted there (not sure why that would be so, though) but I have read that several times.

Nerida said...

I really like figs - but in my tiny garden would definitely need to grow in a pot. Do they fruit in their first season or do you need to put in the hard yards for a year or two before you get the delicious rewards?

Jamie said...

Hi Nerida
Our fig was about 2-3 feet high when we bought it and potted it up (in winter) and it produced a small crop in the next summer. Its crops have been getting better every year. They're easy to look after. Sprinkle around some slow-release fertiliser (eg, Osmocote) in spring, and water it when you're watering the garden. That's about it. Very easy care!