You can grow your own food. And we can help!

Food forest in the tropics

Oct 04, 2011

 One of my favorite fruits is figs - I can remember having a huge fig tree outside my bedroom window growing up in South Africa.  Now -  that dry temperate climate is very, very different to where I live now, about as far away as possible in fact.   When I saw fig trees for sale I knew I just had to have one - that little child in me kept saying - how delicious those figs were - don't you remember?  I bought the tiny thing and put it into a little blue pot that I also just had to have.... Isn't it just as cute as a button? 

 A real little fig tree.  I hope it survives the heat and humidity and grows up to be a nice big fruit bearing fig tree.  In a pot of course - I think I would probably have to find someplace for it to live during our wet season where it is not quite so wet.  It is little - just look at it next to my little lime tree. :)  But I now have a fig tree. A veritable food forest...of course it would be nice to harvest some fruit, but I am practicing patience.

 I did harvest the black beans, shared some with the neighbours, but kept some to plant again.  Not now, the wet season is about to begin and the beans would just never dry out I don't think.  I find it very difficult to get information of what to grow in what season.  Then again the seasons differ from year to year, so sometimes I will just give something a try. Like these black beans which in fact have been quite successful.  A couple of months from planting to harvesting :)

 This must be the season for capsicums - they are starting to produce lovely little peppers - small but tasty.  I planted these a long time ago, but they have only now started to flourish.  Along with the eggplant.  I must make a note of when they need to be planted in future. 

I have planted wet season produce, but not sure when the rains will start.  This has been a strange year - quite cool and dry - I even put in some more lettuce seeds, but if it gets hot too quickly now they will just bolt.  I have never had much luck with beetroot, but sowed some seeds as well - maybe they will do better in the rainy season.   I have sweet potato, loofah, yakon, jicama, ginger and chinese long beans planted - those are my wet season staples.  I am already harvesting chinese long beans, capsicums, eggplant and asparagus.   The red cherry tomatoes have been fabulous this year and still going strong.  Pawpaws are falling off the tree green - not sure what is going on there. 
Does anyone else know exactly what and when to plant in their garden? 
Do you often buy something just because you like the taste?  Even though you are  pretty sure they will not do well in your climate?  I do like to grow things I will eat :)  Are you likely to be more succesful learning to love what you can grow easily in your climate?


Last year I added another fig tree to the yard. A black Mission Fig. Surprise!! I got few this year, they ripened to a beautiful...yellow. I don't mind they were delicious, whatever kind they are. Most of what I grow here now are things that are native or varieties that do well on this area. I've come to love the old southern vegetables and fruits.
I thought this was a black mission but in trying to get the nicest looking plant I actually got one that is called a brown turkey. I have never seen yellow figs - actually I am not always sure that the plants have the right labels lol. I too am enjoying the different tropical types of vegetables that can grow here.
In a new office loft with lots of light from three directions - I want to have some sculptural, potted trees that also do something. I have read that figs are self-pollinating & the foliage pattern is interesting, so they have been on my radar. When I decide on a variety, one of the local plant/florist shops can include my order with one of their shipments from California or other warm-climate suppliers. I have had big plants before on rolling dollies that just fit the bottom of a big, clay pot - so they can be shifted for grouping effects or to follow the light. Have had great luck with indoor blooming & producing lemon & lime bushes in a couple of locations & blooming Vermillion Hibiscus bush/trees in another loft. So any pointers on fig tree types will be welcome. I am quite willing to start small & grow fig trees for the duration ...
Jessica, I am always in awe of people who manage to grow large trees/plants indoors. I moved my one remaining plant outside as I found the base always contained a couple of trapped tree frogs who really should be living outside..... I have seen photos of fig trees in pots that were quite small and bearing a good crop.
... which is why I am looking forward to "living" at the sunny, office loft. My present apartment is the first place I have ever lived with not enough light to raise robust Basil from seed. It seems to have big, west windows, but they look out on a green wall of tall Cottonwood trees not far away. Oh well, at least there are lots of songbirds & a few moose in the Cottonwoods.
Hi Jessica, There is a small fig that is recomended for container planting called 'Petite Negra or Petite Nigri'. A quick google and you'll find some sources for plants and info about them.
After several hours reading about figs online, your little Fig in the blue pot is looking better than ever, Gillian. I am sure it will grow well with such a pretty & appreciated beginning. Petite Nigra sounds very interesting, EJ, because it was the only variety that mentioned the possibility of avoiding dormancy in winter - even with indoor warmth & sun. This Fig dormancy must be due to day-length. And then there is a "chilling requirement" to bring the Fig back out of dormancy, said to be 300 hours. I am not sure I am up for that much management & with a bare-tree phase. :-) Reality-checks appreciated ... Citrus - on the other hand - seems to just enjoy a warm, productive winter with sun indoors. The many blossoms are fragrant & extras are nice floated in herb tea. The fruits produced are remarkably nice - especially the limes, which have been fat, thin-skinned & juicy. Another plant that is showy indoors in winter is a big pot full of Nicotiana Alata. The large "tobacco" leaves are light, bright green & the tubular white flowers perfume the whole house - or loft - in the evening.
Brown Turkey is one of the most popular figs in the south here in USA. I've had them many times and they're delicious. You're gonna like it.
Once again, beautiful pictures and inspiring text. Keep the good work coming, and I'm sure you will enjoy the figs of your childhood. Stay natural, David
thanks David, It looks quite healthy and I just love the shape of the leaves, so anything after that is a bonus. gillian

Add comment

Log in or register to post comments



Join our e-list to stay in touch




Praise for KGI:

"A group that can get
things done"

-Mother Nature Network

"One of the web's best sources of gardening info"
-Washington Post 

"The meeting place of the world's gardeners"
-WorldWatch Institute

more here



About us:

KGI is a nonprofit community of over 30,000 people who are growing some of our own food and helping others to do the same.  

Join our mailing list:


Connect with us:

Contact us:

Kitchen Gardeners International
3 Powderhorn Drive,
Scarborough, ME, 04074, USA
(207) 956-0606