The Fabulous Fig!

Episode 38: Our plant today is Fig and our guest is Dr. Lee Reich. Lee is a writer, horticultural consultant, and educator with graduate degrees in soil science and horticulture. 

Lee is a big fan of Figs (Ficus carica) and in this episode we learn how to successfully propagate, grow, and harvest this ancient plant. Lee explains why it’s a challenge to know how many varieties of Figs there really are and shares his tips about how to keep your Fig tree healthy and happy.

Figs are unique in the fruit world. Did you know that when you eat a Fig, you aren’t eating a fruit? A fig is really a syconium (or synconium), a part of a stem that expands into a sac containing flowers. Luckily for us, Fig syconiums are so delicious!

Although, Figs are a true Mediterranean plant, they are adaptable and resilient. Those who live in colder climates, rejoice! You can successfully grow Figs and enjoy your own delicious syconiums. :) Lee shares some of his many methods for Fig growing in cold regions, including growing them in pots, overwintering them in greenhouses and basements, and pruning them so their low growing arms are very close to the ground. Learn more about these techniques in depth in Lee’s book Growing Figs in Cold Climates.

A former plant and soil researcher for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Cornell University, Lee’s books include Weedless Gardening, Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, and Growing Figs in Cold Climates. Lee wrote a syndicated gardening column for the Associated Press for nearly 30 years.

Lee’s farmden- his term for his more than a garden, less than a farm, piece of land, has been featured in many publications like the New York Times and Martha Stewart Living and has won awards from National Gardening and Organic Gardening magazines.

Visit Lee’s website at to learn about Figs, fruit, gardening, soil, and more!

Lee was a guest on my other podcast Sustainable World Radio. Click here to listen to the episode Gardening Like Nature, where Lee discusses the art and science of building soil from the ground up and why he believes it’s important to pay attention to the top few inches of soil and let nature take care of the rest. Learn about mulch, the importance of compost, and why Lee loves to repurpose what others might call waste in his quest to improve soil fertility and grow vibrant and resilient plants.

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