Fig health benefits are numerous, including figs ability to alkalize the body. Figs have been said to lower cholesterol, cure diabetes, reduce constipation, treat hemorrhoids, reduce blood sugar and prevent diabetes, lower blood pressure, help with weight loss, and even prevent colon cancer. Figs have even been used to treat bronchitis. Applied topically, figs are good for the skin, treating skin ulcers and abscesses. Figs are easy to grow indoors and out, and are available dried in many shops and marketplaces.
Health benefits of figs
Three figs contain 5 grams of fiber, which helps prevent colon cancer, lowers cholesterol and also aids in weight loss. Eating figs prevents constipation. Because they contain Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, figs are beneficial in reducing heart disease. Fig leaves contain a compound that lowers triglycerides, another risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Vitamins in figs include vitamin B1, B2, manganese and iron. Figs are said to prevent macular degeneration and because of the mucilage content, they can be used to treat sore throats and bronchitis.
Growing fig trees
The fig belongs to the Ficus family, are a group of trees and shrubs. Over 200 different types of figs will grow in North America. Figs originated in the warm climate near the Mediterranean Sea. Fig trees do best when they do not have an opportunity to grow roots. For this reason, they are well adapted to growing in pots or near a wall that will block root growth. Figs can put out two or three crops of fruit each year, depending on the warmth of the environment. In the Mediterranean, they will have two flushes, and in tropical regions, even more. In most of North America, one crop is typical. Figs are ripe when they are soft when squeezed. Nectar appearing at the bottom of the fruit or a split near the stalk is also good indications that that fruit of the fig tree is ready to harvest. Some fig trees only put out fruit on second year growth. For that reason, it is essential to not cut every branch every year. Leaving alternating branches allows for crops each year. Fig branches are hollow and are easily broken off if they get too long, so many varietals do require pruning.
Type of environment needed to grow figs successfully
Figs need sun and well draining soil in order to thrive. They like well-fertilized soil, and to be fed potassium plant foods through the summer months after the fruit has appeared. They can usually manage with little water, but with too little water, they will drop their fruit before it is ready. Watering during the summer can cause the figs to split open. They like a well fertilized soil. Figs can be trained to grow up a wall or trellis or pruned to live in a pot. The fig tree will also send up sucker growth, which must be trimmed, or replanted as a separate tree, so as not to sap the growth of the original plant. When pruning, it is advised to leave at least two inches of stub on the plant.
How to plant a fig tree
To plant a fig tree, first dig a hole about two feel square. Line the sides with bricks. Put broken pottery of rocks in the bottom so that the soil will drain. A layer about eight inches will do the trick. Then put the fig plant into the hole and fill it with dirt and compost. Water well until the plant is established. Then be careful not to overwater. Periodic feeding through the fruiting season with tomato fertilizer of other high potassium liquid fertilizers is recommended.
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About the author:
Melanie Grimes is a writer, medical editor and health educator. A classically trained homeopath, she has lectured internationally and been on faculty at Bastyr University, American Medical College of Homeopathy, and Seattle School of Homeopathy. An award-winning screenwriter, Melanie has taught creative writing, and authored medical textbooks. You can follow her blog at http://melaniegrimes.com.
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