Protecting Our Figs!

I’m enjoying backyard gardening now that we’re settling into our summer routine. This can be challenging in San Antonio with our blazing 100+ degree days in July and August, but a bit of gardening can still be done. I planted 18 sweet potato slips in a few of our box gardens a couple weeks ago because sweet potatoes thrive in the summer. Yet, even they wilted in the hot afternoon sun the first few days after putting them in. Then I improvised a bit of shade for them, and that seemed to help a bit.

Box Gardens

This week, we began getting rain almost every day, breaking a long drought, and this is helping a lot. I’m seeing new growth on almost every vine, and that’s a good sign. I’ve removed the “shades” and we’ll see how the vines do over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, I noticed that a few figs on our backyard fig tree were beginning to ripen. I planted the tree as a small “start-up” five years ago. It’s grown to a 15-foot fig tree that shades our back bay-window. About 3 dozen figs were growing on it in June. These are Black Mission figs, but they stay green most of the time. They begin to turn a deep purple – almost black – a few days before they’re ripe. I noticed one was almost ripe a couple days ago, but I decided it needed one more warm day to fully ripen. Unfortunately, that’s when our neighborhood cardinal found it. I wound up picking a well pecked fig.



Ripening Figs

Backyard Fig Tree












After giving this some thought, I decided to see if our “pet owl” could protect the remaining 3 dozen figs. I bought the owl a year or two ago to keep the cardinal from dashing it’s head against its “rival” image in our window. That helped, but the cardinal does not fear the owl nearly as much as it did last year. We’ll see what happens over the next weeks. So far, so good! 

Owl protecting our figs




  1. Patricia A Wagner

    Ed, how do you tend your fig tree? We have several about six feet tall, but they don’t produce fruit. Is there a particular fertilizer to use and when should it be applied?

    I enjoy reading your updates on gardening very much. Although I have not had much success with vegetable gardening, the articles and pictures motivate me to keep trying.

    Thank you and blessings,

    • Patricia,
      I don’t use any fertilizer for the tree, though I do for other parts of the garden. According to the black mission instructions, no fertilizer is needed. A compost mulch of 1 – 2 inches is advised, but I don’t use any mulch either because the tree has healthy ground cover growing all around the base. The tree is planted near the house, as you can see in the picture. I’m told that fig trees grow well near house foundations, but why that is true, I don’t know. Here is a link to an online site about Black Mission fig trees. I hope it helps. Blessings!

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