Behind the Fence

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Bountiful Fig Crop

This year has been awesome for figs. We pick a basket every other day.
Friday's Harvest
Today's Harvest

They are somewhat persnickety as they do not ripen off the vine. If they are picked too early they have a greenish membrane and not too much of the sugary content. If not picked when ripe, they will split and the ants have a picnic. Knowing exactly when to pick comes with experience. In one day they can go from being too green to split open.


Lemon Fig
There are several varieties of figs. We grow Lemon Figs and Alma Figs, both are a greenish yellow when ripe. The Mission Fig (which is more common in our area) is purplish black when ripe.

Winter Cover
Most figs do not take kindly to the freezing temperatures in our Zone 7a. If not protected, the branches will freeze and die. Although the tree survives, figs produce on the previous years’ branches, if the branches freeze, there will not be figs to harvest. We have tried several ways to winter over the trees. We have moved the pots into the greenhouse; not a good idea since they will not go dormant, therefore they will not produce very many figs. We have made a wire cage to surround them, stuffing the cage with leaves and/or straw. That worked very well but was quite a mess in the spring when the time came to uncover the trees. Last year we piled bags of leaves around the trees and positioned a tarp to cover and keep the ice/snow at bay. Obviously that worked well as we have had a bumper crop. Figs grow well in large pots. I have read they will winter over very well in an unheated garage or shed. I understand there are some cold hardy fig trees like Chicago and Hunt, but have not tried them.

Fig, goat cheese, grilled chicken salad.
Folks often ask what we do with our figs. Often we eat them straight from the tree. We frequently add them to a salad with grilled chicken, goat cheese, walnuts with our signature lime infused olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing. Sometimes we make a bruschetta with toasted artisan bread, figs and goat cheese.
Our favorite fig treat is grilled pizza with grilled chicken, goat cheese and figs. If we have arugula in the garden we add it after we take the pizza off the grill. With the bumper crop this year I am dehydrating some. I anticipate eating them in oatmeal or in a salad during the winter.

Fresh figs do not transport easily and are not often found in the grocery store. For a delicioius fruit, rich in calcium, fiber and antioxidant, we find they are worth the trouble to grow in the potager.



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