A very nice friend heard that my Figgy didn’t survive winter. So what did the very nice friend do? She presented me with a baby Figgy taken from a sucker of her own grown-up one. Thanks a bunch, Angie! You are a sweet angel.
TB named him “Figgy Too” and we all started treating him like a family member. My deprived kids, who’ve been asking for a puppy for 3 years now, like to pet Figgy Too on her little leaves that are just starting to sprout. TG decided it’s a girl.
I have always loved the way fig trees look, even if I didn’t always enjoy the fruits. It’s the seeds thing, you know. I was scared to bite into the seed cavity. Who knows why, I didn’t feel the same way about strawberries. Anyway, figs make great edible landscape trees. So tropical and cool with those big, lobed leaves. I like sassafras leaves, too, by the way. I had one sassafras growing, now gone. Too dry, I think.
In Rome, I saw fig trees growing wild, seemingly sprouting anywhere, even out of the cracks on old walls. One, spotted on the Tiber River wall, was even bearing fruits. Small, green fruits, but still fruits.
Gardening with John Steedman has graciously allowed me to use his photo of a fig tree sprouting out of a wall, much like what I saw in Italy.
Isn’t it funny how something much coveted in one place is taken for granted elsewhere? Just like olive trees; I covet one right now. In Italy or Greece they are probably taken for granted, even if they represent a value to the people there. Since they grow so easily. At UCLA there were olive trees that were seen as a nuisance because of the stains the ripe olives create when they fall off the trees. Can’t tell if they are still there or not; I left the area many, many years ago.
I let it be known to my kids that Figgy Too is a first-rated pedigree pet. She came from Angie’s tree, that in turn, was the offspring of Angie’s dad’s tree, that was brought all the way from Italy. A bit of advice from Angie, coupled with online research, provided me with enough information on how to best care for Figgy Too:
1. Try growing her in a South-facing site with plenty of sun, better still if against a wall because the wall will give her extra heat and protection in the winter.
2. She will not flourish in a heavy clay soil that drains poorly. So amend the soil with a mix of compost, perlite, and sand. Figgy Too will prefer alkaline soil, so if our soil is acidic, we’re to add lime.
3. Protect her from winter freezes. Wrap her entire being with burlap or cloth. Then wrap the whole thing again with plastic for further insulation. The plastic should never touch her bare branches.
4. Give her fertilizer only if she is growing in a poor sandy soil because she really doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer. Use a high-phosphorus fertilizer. Too much nitrogen will prompt her to produce leaves at the expense of fruits.
5. Don’t wait years for Figgy Too to give you fruits to start loving figs. Go now to the farmers’ market and start enjoying them!
Here’s hoping that Figgy Too will survive many long, happy years.
Note: Angie has a few recipes up her sleeve that will convert anybody into a fig lover. She will share those recipes, I’m sure. The best ones I heard are the savory dishes in which the sweetness of the figs is tempered by the saltiness of other ingredients. Er… Ang, no pressure, but we’re chomping at the bit here. Or is it champing at the bit? Will someone please tell me, once and for all, which one is correct?