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May 16, 2008 04:03 AM

Figs needed

I am making a dinner tonight that requires fresh figs. I have come to find out that they are not quite in season (I found out by taking trips to buy them Whole Foods in Silver Spring and Balduccis in Bethesda). Despite this information, I have not yet given up hope in finding them. Does anyone know where I could get fresh figs for tonight?

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  1. I'm afraid you'll probably have to try again in June/July. The only other place I could think to try would be Wegman's, but only by reputation as I have never been there (but it's on my list of things to do when I have a spare couple of hours, which is never).

    1. Prime season for fresh figs is late summer and fall. Some varieties produce a smaller early crop which you might be able find (from California) in early summer. Even in California it's late summer and fall when figs are bountiful. My own fig trees almost never produce an early ("breba") crop. Only a few of the hardiest figs can be grown around here, and they also tend to be much smaller than varieties which grow in Mediterranean climates, some of which require a particular type of wasp to fruit. Sorry if this is TMI.

      8 Replies
      1. re: potrzebie

        When do your trees yield the best figs? Am I correct that you are in Baltimore?

        1. re: baltimorejim

          I am between Baltimore and DC and my fig bush (not very tree like) yields the best stuff in September and October. But I gotta get to them before the birds do. Man, do they love my figs.

          I have a Celeste fig bush. What kind do you have potrzebie?

          1. re: baltimorejim

            Though I suspect you're wondering which month(s), the actual answer for when my trees produce their "best" figs is after a dry spell. When we get moderate to heavy rain, the ripening figs seem to literally swell up with water, which dilutes the sugars in the fruit. Not only do the figs not taste as sweet, they also become more prone to rot and mold as concentrated sugar acts as a natural preservative. Also, their thin skins weaken by either absorption of rainwater and/or breakage due to the swelling of the fruit. After a heavy rain, it's almost impossible to pick the fruit for a day or two without damaging the skin. At least that's the experience I've had with the varieties I currently grow. Last year was a fantastic fig year. My Brown Turkey variety (the hardiest variety I'm aware of) starts ripening around early-mid August and is usually finished by late September, Celeste is a week or two later. My Neveralla (not as hardy as the other two, but has larger fruit) is not as consistent in its timing, but it's always later, usually beginning in September and continuing until frost, which sometimes hasn't been until mid-November in recent years. It's awfully nice to go outside around Veterans Day and pick a few ripe figs. I'm trying to propagate a fig brought over by a Lebanese immigrant I know. It's a purple variety that is the best quality of any fig I've tasted among the varieties grown in the DC area (which is where I am, not Baltimore). I have no idea what the name of the variety is. A severely cold winter will kill fig wood. The roots will always survive and you'll get new shoots coming out of the ground, but you won't get a fig crop that summer, as there won't be enough time for the figs on the new shoots to ripen before frost. My Neveralla tree has been killed to the ground several times. My Brown Turkey has never been killed back. I've had to prune it severely in recent years because it has gotten out of hand. Figs are basically weeds with benefits.

            1. re: potrzebie

              potzrebie--you are now the official fig expert. Thanks for the details!

              1. re: debit

                The following website has a huge amount of information about figs and fig varieties:


                1. re: potrzebie

                  I have a Violette and a turkey both here in herndon. Have to bring them in (potted) during the winter, but I have to agree with the posts above. They grow VERY well and are basically free from pests, deseases etc. Just about as foolproof as you can get if have an frost protected but cold garage over the winter, or don't mind the dieback.

                  My breba crop came and went (only about 5-6 figs total, repotted this winter so I lost a few). They were ok, but the flavor was nowhere near where it will be aug/sept/oct. I would assume the same will hold true for the figs you find in the stores.

                  1. re: scot

                    Hi, I'm new to 'fig farming' but having had my first fresh fig last year I'm definately hooked. I hope you experienced growers can give me advice. I live in Federal Hill (Baltimore city) and my figs are planted in 50 to 65 gallon containers. The three figs I had last year all came through the winter OK, one in a 65 gallon container against a wood fence and two in 24 in pots against my house. Now all of these, and five more of various sizes are in the larger pots either against a fence or against my house...so the question: I didn't do anything more to protect them, but this talk of dying back to the ground is scaring me...do I need to do the wrapping ritual I have read they do in the north?

                    1. re: asfoora saghira

                      I don't have any first-hand experience growing figs in pots. It sounds like scot above has a perfect arrangement, with a cold but somewhat protective garage. I'm trying to picture the size of a 50-65 gallon container. Sounds huge to me and probably impossible to move, unless it's on wheels. Anyway, on one of those rare nights that it gets below 15 F., fig wood of less hardy figs can be killed. On a 0 degree night, there will be wood killed on pretty much all figs. The 2 most common varieties around here, Brown Turkey & Celeste are the hardiest that I'm aware of. Also, older, more established trees are supposedly more cold resistant than younger ones. In the ground, roots will always survive around here. In a raise pot, I could imagine it freezing completely in a prolonged cold spell, and that could spell trouble. (I'm just speculating) If your smaller pots are in the ground, that should save the roots, since the surrounding earth will insulate them.

                      When my Neveralla tree was small, I built a chicken wire cage around it and filled it will leaves during the winter. That worked well. The leaves tended to mat down as the winter went on, and where I didn't fill up with new leaves, the exposed wood did die. However, the entire lower portion of the tree survived and I got a crop. BTW, I started getting my Brown Turkey figs this week, and the Celeste are just starting now. I'm fighting birds and squirrels, but I've got a few tricks up my sleeve.

        2. Spider--figs are available in June according to Wegman's on their website. You can go to Wegman's.com and "join" their newsletter which provides recipes, virtual stores and any info related to items in the store. FoiGras

          1. Thanks all! As a Upstate New York Native (home to Wegman's) I am pleased to see that Wegman's has become as essential here as it was back home. I will just wait patiently...

            1. The Calamiris veggie stand at Eastern Market had figs on Tuesday.