A fig tree will succeed best in a sheltered position in full sun either as a shrub,
bush or standard, alternatively use of a south or south-west facing wall is ideal
for growing and training a fan-shaped fig - use horizontal wires fixed to the wall
45cm (18 in) apart. It is essential that the roots are contained and not allowed
to spread as left to its own devices, the tree will make vigorous growth and the
foliage will look good but at the expense of a good crop of fruit.
There are two ways to restrict the root run. Grow the tree in a large diameter pot
of soil-based compost. Keep the top of the soil 7 cm-10 cm (3 in-4 in) below the
rim of the pot to allow an annual spring top-up with compost, as well as to facilitate
watering and feeding. Either plunge the pot into the soil against the wall or keep
it above ground. Alternatively plant directly into the soil at the base of the wall
where the root run is restricted to a planting pit that is 60 cm by 60 cm (2 ft by
2 ft) and 60 cm (2 ft) deep. Dig the hole directly in front of the wall, bearing
in mind that it involves a lot of digging and several barrow-loads of soil. Line
the three open sides of the hole with 60 cm (2 ft) square bamboo root liner or concrete
paving slabs stood upright will suffice so along with the wall they form a 60 cm
(2 ft) square box. Add 15 cm (6 in) of broken bricks or clean stone to the base of
the hole for drainage.
Fill the pot or planting hole with soil-based compost or sterilized topsoil with
a layer of well-rotted farmyard manure or compost in the base, and plant the fig
at the same depth as previously grown.
With the roots of the fig confined to a small area it will be essential to water
the tree, especially during summer when the fruit is swelling and remember to net
the tree early, to prevent birds stealing the crop. The figs are ready to pick when
the fruit droops on its stalk and the skin is well coloured. If the skin cracks open
it is fully ripe and you may notice a drop of sweet sticky nectar.