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Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Fig Tree

My last hope to reap a crop...

The fourth fig trip in as many years is doing better than any of its predecessors. Those never got a chance to grow this big. The wildlife has always found the tree a tasty treat, especially at its young tender stage. I've never eaten a fig leaf but something around here loves them. Twice, my next door neighbor in Brooklyn handed me shoots from his tree, but the clay and rocky Virginian soil has not been conducive to quick growth and the critters have taken advantage of that. I had given up attempting to grow a fig tree until I was advised to pot it instead of planting it in the ground.

The owner of a local Italian restaurant, an elderly gent, lets call him Vito, proudly displayed his fig tree, along with his lemon tree, orange tree, and various other trees all thriving in pots. His flowers and bushes always look as luscious as his food. Clearly he has a green thumb. In Brooklyn, the Italian men were in charge of growing the gardens. They grew everything -- inside were all the plants, outside the spectacular vegetable gardens. But their prized possession was their fig tree. In September delicious ripened fruits were popped in the mouth without washing. At dinner a plate of figs, nuts and cheese ended the meal. The wives would steal some and cook them into preserves which would fill their Christmas cookies.

The men nutured and protected their fig trees, not from critters, but from the cold weather. Before winter began some would wrap them mummy like in canvas or thick plastic, rope encircling them as if they were hiding a body. Others dug a trench next to the tree and carefully bent the tree to fit in the hole and then covered it back up with soil, as if they were burying a body. I'm doing neither. I plan to bring my fig tree into the sun room for the winter. But first I have to hope these figs grow larger and ripen. Then I have to hope I get to them before one of my critters do. So far they've gotten to the tomatoes, peaches, apples, blackberries, and anything else I've grown, except the basil. And that's because the basil was lousy this year. I think I was able to snatch one tomato and a handful of blackberries. They were delicious, but hardly worth the efforts and expense of daily watering.

C'mon guys, keep your claws and paws off this fig tree. Between the koi sushi bar, wild strawberries, various other berries, bird feeder and whatever else it is that you love about my yard, you're well fed. There's nothing like a fresh fig. Let me have this...


  1. elena,
    same problem here (north NJ), i put it in rolling pot and wheel into garge in winter. It is too cold in winter to survive,and i refuse to do the "Body Wrap". the problem is that it will never give prpoer fruit, i have about 12 green figs i doubt they will turn black.I enjoyed your article, thanks for the memories... fm conte

  2. Tony Montouri's papa grew the best figs "fee-gaa, fee-ga" trees at New York Pizza, here in Vinton, VA if that's who you are referring to. Delicious, sweet, and plump that would melt in your mouth and do a happy dance there before you swallowed them. I'm crossing my fingers and toes for yours.

  3. Beth Ann, his name really is Vito and he owns Mama Maria's in Salem ;)