Why grow a Brown Turkey Fig?
Figs have been around for centuries, and for good reason—they are beloved for their decadent texture and candy-sweet flavor. The Brown Turkey variety is famous for producing medium-sized fruit that ripens to a rusty-red/purple color. It is a high-quality, all-purpose fig that can be enjoyed fresh but is also excellent for preserving, perhaps the main reason home gardeners grow this fruit.
The semi-tropical look of the plant, with its large, beautifully-lobed leaves and teardrop-shaped fruit, is so attractive on a deck or patio. The added bonus of succulent fresh figs is impossible to resist. If you plant this fig tree in a container, you can grow it in cold climates, as long as you protect the tree by wrapping it in burlap when temperatures drop below -12°C (10°F). Better yet, bring it indoors for the colder fall and winter months.
Generally speaking, fig trees are easy to care for. They are self-pollinating and will tolerate heat well. If you live in a warmer growing zone, you can expect two crops of figs each season!
Using the Fruit and Leaves
Brown Turkey figs are exquisite for fresh-eating, but can also be incorporated into appetizers and desserts, or featured in charcuterie and cheese boards. Professional chefs prize them for their versatility and use them in both sweet and savory dishes. Aside from fresh use, figs can be canned in syrup, frozen and dried.
Figs provide a good source of vitamins A and C and provide high levels of calcium, fiber, potassium, iron and magnesium. Use the flat, wide leaves for steaming, baking and grilling, as the leaves impart a pleasant smoky flavor to foods cooked in them. The leaves may also be dried and made into tea.
Growing Brown Turkey Fig Trees
Fig trees require full sun to grow and produce their fruit. They prefer even moisture, but can tolerate short periods of drought. An annual top-dressing of compost (6 mm (1/4″) gently worked into the area around the tree base) will help keep the soil rich and nourish the tree. Fertilize in the spring with an application of 10-10-10 fertilizer to produce the most fruit.
Grown in the ground, the Brown Turkey Fig can reach 3-9 m tall (10-30′) tall. If grown in a container, the height will be smaller, depending upon the pot size. The tree can also be kept small with light pruning.
Give yourself (or a fellow gardener) the gift of a Brown Turkey Fig tree and enjoy its luscious, nutritious fruit for years to come!
Overwintering Fig Trees in Cooler Climates
If you experience temperatures below freezing, then additional winter protection is necessary for best results. Potted figs should be placed in an insulated, unheated, preferably dark room or cool basement. Water them monthly until just moist so the roots do not dry out completely.
For fig trees planted in-ground, insulate as much as possible by getting creative. Use chicken wire and burlap or surround with straw bales stuffed with leaves. The pliable branches can be bent in to preserve as much as the plant as possible. What is not covered, will likely die back. Figs fruit on new growth and the insulated roots will send out new growth, even if the top dies.