One day, about seven years ago, I moved to Gabriola Island from Vancouver. Why? Why? I said to myself, when I was happily a city-girl, lived on 24/7 stamina and loved the glitz and glamour. Well, I fell in love with Gabriola, just a hop skip and a jump from Nanaimo, and in fact if I wanted to visit Vancouver, it was only a 20 minute float plane ride, or a few short hours on the ferries from Departure Bay, Nanaimo to Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver. So, what the heck? I loved Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast. Why wouldn’t I love Gabriola? Both oceans, beaches, walks in the park, and a climate that suited me best.

Then, I found that I had a fig tree in my very own back yard! Never having seen a fig tree, I watched with interest as seasons moved into summer. The fruit hung, green and hard and over a few more weeks the look and feel of this fruit changed as the figs ripened. Gingerly snipping the fig from its branch, I sliced into the fruit and Voila! A lovely pink, sweet meat opened. The taste and texture divine. And, that was it; I was in love with my fig tree. Let me give you some details.

On Gabriola Island Real Estate, British Columbia, figs (Ficus carica) are fairly easy to grow. The key to successfully growing figs is to choose a variety that will ripen properly in our area. I have a Desert King fig tree. Fig trees can last for generations if they are properly maintained.

It is common to find fig trees scattered around Gabriola. One of my neighbors grows two ‘Brown Turkey’ figs in his south-facing backyard against a white 6-foot high wall. I found another at the south end of Gabriola, near Silva Bay, where this magnificent specimen was actually transported around Cape Horn, Africa many, many years ago. Figs grow best and produce the best quality fruit in the Mediterranean and other drier, warm-temperate climates. Luckily Gabriola enjoys a Mediterranean-like climate, with fairly mild winters with occasional cold snaps. Cold snaps are not ideal for sun-loving figs but, with extra care, figs will flourish in the wetter, cooler areas. Fruit tree catalogues list fig trees as hardy throughout Zones 7 to 11 without protection; and in Zones 4 to 7 with winter cover. Your yard’s microclimate will determine whether a fig tree will flourish. Figs are rated as hardy in Gabriola’s Zone 8. Winter cold below -10 can damage branch tips and may cause the fig tree to die to the ground but they should re-sprout the following spring.

Figs require at least six hours of full sun daily for the fruit to ripen properly. My fig tree is in the south-west part of my backyard, and very happy there. It sits in front of a white painted garage, heat-reflecting. The fig’s fruit is called a syconium. This means that the tiny flowers of the fig are clustered out of sight inside the green outer covering of the fig. The common figs that are appropriate for growing in Victoria are parthenocarpic, meaning all the flowers are female and need no pollination. The common fig bears a first crop, called the breba crop, in the summer on last season’s growth. The second crop is borne in the fall on the new growth and is known as the main crop. Generally in the cooler Pacific Coast area only the breba crop ripens in late summer or early fall. The second crop does not ripen. After a while, these smaller fruits darken, shrivel and drop off.

Maybe you can tell, I’m an avid gardener, member of our Gabriola Garden Club, purveyor of my very own famous “Fig Walnut Lemon Zest Jam”. The family clambers for it, and now my friends and clients, do too!

Author's Bio: 

Carol Martin can help you find that perfect place on Gabriola. Carol is a Licensed Realtor with the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board and a Member of the Better Business Bureau “Trusted Realtor”.