Advice From the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
Client's Request: I am a new resident to the County. I would like to plant the Black Madeira and Flanders varieties of fig, but would like a recommendation for a variety that would do well in this area.
You had also read that chefs recommended Flanders. This variety is described as growing best in south coastal California and the San Joaquin Valley. Unless you are in the warmer areas of the County (closer to the Bay and/or River), you may find that your garden may not be warm enough for this variety.
There are, however, many other varieties that do grow well in this area. The most complete list and best information on growing figs is available from the California Rare Fruit Growers. Their fig information can be found at http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/fig.html. This list does not cover all of California. They indicate which areas are best for each cultivar. As you check out the list of cultivars, you will see reference to the “breba” crop. Many figs produce two crops a year: one early in the spring that is called the “breba,” and a main crop in the fall. Those terms are further defined in the link.
For more information on fig varieties, see also: http://homeorchard.ucdavis.edu/plant_Fig.pdf. This is a smaller list but contains some useful general information.
Other fig background and cultivation information is also available at: http://fruitsandnuts.ucdavis.edu/dsadditions/Fig_Fact_Sheet/.
One other good source of information is The New Sunset Western Garden Book that is available for purchase or can usually be found in a County Library.
You also indicated a desire to talk to a fig expert. I suggest contacting the local Golden Gate chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers and attending one of their meetings. They may be able to give you the name of a fig expert. Their contact information is: http://www.crfg.org/chapters/golden gate/index.htm.
Good luck with your fig tree selection and please let us know if you have further questions.
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa County
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Dozens of heirloom tomatoes & vegetables chosen especially for Contra Costa
Note: The UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925) 646-6586, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/).