Monday, October 3, 2016

Have you oiled your figs lately?

It’s not a question I ever thought I’d ask but it comes from asking another question: We’ve got loads of figs on our tree right now but they are not ripening, so what can I do about it?

Our figs are a variety called Brown Turkey. It’s probably the most widely grown variety in the UK and we’ve had a good few in the last couple of years since we planted the tree on our sun terrace, where a south-south-east facing wall will radiate warmth and offer shelter from some of the wind.

I’d wondered if I could harvest them and put them in a sealed container with a ripe banana to ripen them. The trick works with plenty of other fruit. The banana produces a hormone – ethylene gas – which stimulates ripening in itself and many other types of fruit too.

But apparently, it won’t be effective on figs unless they have already started the road to ripening themselves. However, there is another card you can play: you simply dab a drop of olive oil on the eye of the fig (the end opposite the stork) while the fruit is still on the tree.

And – odd though it may seem – there are plenty who testify that it works and otherwise hard, green figs can be ripe enough to be harvested and eaten in around three weeks.

I wish I’d done it a month earlier. It’s October 3rd and it’s getting colder in these climes at night – a night which, in turn, is quickly getting longer (longer by the day in fact!).

But we’ll see what happens and I’ll report back – either when it does or when I’ve given up for a year on the idea of harvesting any more delicious figs which, right now, are more appealing than any other fruit in our generous and productive garden.

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