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I have ben trying to think outside the box regarding planting 2 young fig trees.

My soil is very shallow, thin and quick draining. I am physically unable to dig a deep hole but have access to an old water tank. Approximately 6ft by 4ft in size, it never has more than 2/3 ins of water in the bottom, no matter how much it rains, so I wondered whether,  if I put rubble in the bottom to a depth of 3/4 ins., and then filled it with compost, it would make a suitable home for the figs.

I have seen figs growing in timber 4 'by4' containers in the garden at Heligan. I have a south facing spot where I could have the water tank put.




  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,053

    I should think it woul dbe fine as a container for figs but would suggest driling some drainage holes at about 3 or 4 inches above the bottom so they don't sit in stagnant water.   I would also advise lining the insides with bubble warp for extra root insulation.

    I did that in a 70 by 70cm square metal pot and my fig survived outside in some pretty rude winters.  However 3 years running it got its top frozen back to the crown as we get very cold here.   It recovered each time but not in tie to produce figs so now I have it in the ground in my unheated greenhouse and it is thriving.

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Thank you!

    My ground is only about a spades depth and then there is compacted shale which needs a pneumatic drill to break it up, which would be fine for download growing roots, I was concerned that would encourage roots to spread sideways and the figs start sending up suckers to develop into a forest of figs.

    I was debating about having some extra drainage holes drilled in the water tank, my neighbour has offered to do that for me, and also lining the tank with something. I was toying with the idea of raiding the bins of the local electrical shops for large sheets of polystyrene foam which is used as packaging for white goods. I am an intrepid "bag lady!" Always picking up something useful, fallen branches for the fire, stones with holes in, etc. My daughter says it is like having a child who has to take a treasure home every time it is taken for a walk. The ultimate in recycling.

     Down here in balmy Cornwall we do not get too many hard frosts but that could be the famous last words.

    The fig trees in Heligan are really hard pruned to keep their size down but I have no idea if they fruit well.



  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,373

    I think that your garden soil sounds ideal for figs - if only you could persuade someone to help dig a planting hole through the shale you could plant them there and then the roots will be naturally restricted - it sounds perfect to me.

    However, if you want to go ahead with the tank I agree with with Verdun, lots of drainage holes and crocks - and I've used John Innes No. 3 with a bit of added horticultural grit for my fig.

    Good luck. image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • None of my friends own pneumatic drills or bucket shovels/mini diggers so I was planning to dig out as far as I could (might try to rope in my young, strong son-in-law in to help) to submerge the bottom of the water tank as far as I can. My plan was to fill the tank with a mix of garden soil, grit and JI 3 as I do not want to encourage too much growth on the fig plants.

    It would be almost impossible to get earth moving equipment into my garden now because it would mean negotiating a flight of steps or breaking through a bank/wall. When I had the conservatory built they tried digging a soakaway by hand, then tried a pneumatic drill to break up the shale and finally resorted to using a mini digger, all before the steps were finally built. They didn't get to the bottom of the shale level as my garden is on the edge of clay pit territory so the soil is spoil tip quality.

    Thanks for the "compliment" Verdun. I have never thought of myself as a "classy lady", in fact I thought I was probably the worlds most unclassy person!

    A very happy and healthy New Year to all GW gardeners.

  • jamesholtjamesholt Central texasPosts: 452
    What kind of fig would you grow?  Is there a fig that would be better adapted to a container or do they all grow similarly?  
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,373
    The figs you can grow in Texas will be different to those we can grow here in the UK. I suggest you seek advice from fig growers more local to you. 

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • jamesholtjamesholt Central texasPosts: 452
    A most common variety that is grown here is the brown Turkey.  The brown turkey is also on the rhs website as reccomended for britain.  The other varieties on the rhs website I havent seen for sale here but would like to try them.  I have planted the brown turkey and it produces fruit but I have had better fruit production with a plant called Texas everbearing.  I think it is a plant you have with just a different name. The fruit looks like a white fig?  I didnt know you could grow a fig tree in a container and am going to try doing that next.  What fig tree do most people plant in Britain that has the best flavor?  I dont think the white figs taste as good as the brown ones?
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