This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
Where the first crop is ripening keep a circulation of warm air about them, and let them be kept as dry as is consistent with the welldoing and safety of the second crop. Do not gather the fruit until it opens at the crown and the juice is oozing from it, unless, indeed, they have to be packed and sent to a distance, when they require to be gathered before getting too soft. Where the second crop has formed thickly, partially thin them in time, and as soon as the first crop is all gathered give them liberal waterings at the root, and syringe the trees freely every fine day. Established trees with their roots in either pots or circumscribed borders require a quantity of water, and to be well fed with manure. Young trees that are not yet bearing freely should be less liberally treated, or they will grow too grossly.
To insure high flavour, keep those that have arrived at the ripening point dry and exposed to a circulation of air. As soon as the first crop is all gathered, water copiously, and mulch with manure all free-bearing trees, to encourage the second crop now advancing. Syringe freely every fine afternoon, and shut up with sun-heat to run the thermometer up to from 80° to 85°. When growing and swelling off a crop, figs delight in an abundant supply of moisture and a high temperature. Where the fruit are thick, thin off some of them; a lesser number of fine large fruit is preferable to a larger number of smaller ones. Those bearing heavily in pots require to be liberally fed with manure-water and rich top-dressing, and an abundant supply of moisture. This treatment requires to be modified in the case of younger and less free-fruiting trees.
Where the fruit are showing signs of ripening, cease syringing, and keep the house airy and dry. A well-ripened Fig is a splendid fruit, but a watery insipid one is the very reverse. Do not gather them till they have cracked and the juice begins to ooze from them, unless, indeed, when they have to be packed and sent to a distance, when it is necessary to gather earlier. When the first crop is all gathered, give the trees a liberal watering of dung-water, and resume the syringing and a moist warm atmosphere, so as to encourage the swelling of the second crop. In the case of young trees inclined to make a too gross growth, do not apply' any manure, and give less water at the root than to old free-bearing trees. Plants in pots should be mulched with strong manure and turfy loam, and freely watered and syringed.
Give fruit that are ripening a circulation of dry warm air. The fruit should be gathered a sufficient time before it is used, to allow them to become quite cool. All trees swelling off fruit, either in large pots or restricted inside borders, will require to be well supplied with manure-water.
Do not neglect trees from which all fruit for the season have been gathered, but syringe them regularly every fine afternoon, so as to keep the foliage healthy to the last. Thm out all superfluous wood, as recommended in the case of Peach trees. As a rule it is not desirable to force a third crop from Figs. They are never fine in quality, and it ultimately tells on the trees.
Where late crops are swelling off on old free-bearing trees, give liberal waterings of manure-water and keep up a warm moist atmosphere until the fruit begin to ripen, when a free circulation of dry warm air is necessary to the production of highly flavoured Figs. When the last crop is all gathered, give the trees an occasional washing with the engine to keep the foliage healthy to the last. Young trees that have grown strongly should be kept rather dry at the root, and have a little fire-heat, if necessary, to consolidate the growths. Early-fruiting pot-plants, if they have not already shed their leaves, should be placed in a sunny warm place until they do so.
Generally Figs will all be gathered by the middle of this month; but where there are any ripening, let them have warmth and a free circulation of air, and do not gather till they are about to drop, or they will not be good. Keep those from which the fruit are all gathered cool and somewhat dry at the root. Remove all superfluous shoots not required for next season's crop. Early plants in pots will now have shed their leaves, and should be protected from heavy rains.
If any of the very late sorts are yet to ripen, let the atmosphere be dry, and the temperature 60° to 65°. Prune, dress, and tie the trees in early houses, and keep them cool and moderately dry at the root. Pot-plants may be stored in any shed or orchard-house, where severe frost cannot reach them. Trees that have their roots circumscribed to a small space, should have the surface soil removed, and a top-dressing of half loam, half well-decayed manure.
Start plants in pots about the middle of the month, by plunging them in a bottom-heat of from 75° to 80°, and giving them a night temperature of 50°. Surface the pots with horse-droppings and loam in equal proportions, and give them a good soaking of weak manure-water at a temperature of 85°. Syringe the trees twice daily, and keep the air moist. Brown Turkey and Raby Castle are excellent for early forcing. Prune trees planted out in borders. Very little of the knife will be necessary where summer pruning and stopping have been properly attended to. But prune now in preference to the barbarous method of tying young wood in great bundles. Where the roots are in inside or limited borders, and trees are old and free-bearing, apply rich top-dressing.