Saturday, November 24, 2012

Figs on the Move


Last October, our neighbors Brent and Nestor gave us their martyred fig tree, Jesús. I didn't get Jesús into the ground last year because I wanted to wait until we'd gotten the place painted before planting trees right next to the house.

Now that the rainy season is here, it is time to plant trees.  So what if we only got halfway through painting this year?  We'll built tree-protecting something-or-others when the rains stop and painting resumes.  At the rate we're going, this will be some time in 2016.  It's been said that the best time to plant a fruit tree is twenty years ago, and the second best time to do so is right now.

So, this weekend, I set to work digging up the miserably heavy clay-silt soil on the side of our house.  This soil is so dense that it literally cannot be dug in the dry season.  When it's wet, it turns into the gloppiest sloppiest clay ever to stick to shoe or shovel.  I dug four holes, and totally wore myself out.  You should have seen my shoes.  A solid inch of mud, glued to the bottom of my feet.

But yeah, I dug four holes.  Without really setting out to do so, I've been collecting stray fig trees, ever since Robb and I bought our little house.

This spindly little tree came from some random dude on craigslist.  I bought it shortly after we moved into the house, during a period of addiction to the farm and garden section of craiglist.  I didn't have my head screwed on right back then, and was running amok, buying somewhat indiscriminately.  I have no idea what variety this plant is. But hey, it was cheap.

Looks kind of sad, doesn't it?

This next fig was given to me by a very nice lady in Occidental, who sold me one of my spinning wheels.  I'll also admit to a period of craigslist spinning wheel excess.  What can I say?  I'm a sucker for handmade wooden tools, and spinning wheels really don't take up all that much room.  Robb doesn't complain, which may have something to do with the fact that I mostly kept my mouth shut during his vintage bicycle buying spree back in Baltimore.  We were living in a historic house that was only twelve feet wide, and our living room was hilariously full of bikes.

There are certainly much worse things to spend money on than fruit trees and wheels.  I make no apologies.

This last fig is our only named variety.  It is Desert King, a green fruit with pink flesh, said to do well in the Bay Area.  I bought this once I'd done a bit of research and had stopped grabbing up fruit trees at random.  I got it through the local chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers

My plan is to keep these trees reasonably small, more like fig bushes.  The space they're in is pretty narrow.  I'm considering interspersing them with a couple of varieties of blackberry, for which we'll have to build some sort of trellis.

I augmented our stupidly heavy soil with quite a bit of mulchy compost.  I hope the figs thrive, and that I didn't do all this work for no reason.  I really wore myself out, and am going to be sore tomorrow, but I'll be dreaming of figs.

Like this beauty, which we harvested from the still-potted Jesús this past September.  Growing fruit is one of those activities where there's no immediate payoff, but lots of mouth watering anticipation. Is it totally stupid of me to be excited about finally planting fruit I may not taste for years?


karen said...

I am jealous of your ability to grow figs! Here in Canadia it is just a dream, except on the west coast, where I ain't. However, there is a magnificent specimen at my partner's house in Paris, more than 2 stories high. SO many delicious figs!

I think getting excited ovr potential harvests is one of the best things ever. My garden is too small for tree-buying mania, but oh boy, do I ever go nuts with a seed catalogue!

K said...

The amazing Lisa who grafts plum trees and composts, wrangles bees and chickens, works a busy job, knits! spins! and inspires! planted her potted fig trees in the muck despite having not finished painting the house. I love that. It is inspiring. Sometimes we can't wait for the optimum time to do something. You just do what needs to be done and find a way to work around the difficulties that may arise. I love that. I think many of my gardening failures come from over thinking things and not taking action. Maybe there is hope for me yet!

I love that you bought random fig trees. I love that other little plants are rooming with them in their pots. I love hearing about your endeavors because it inspires me. Maybe next year I will actually plant blueberries instead of killing them in pots on the porch.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

It was actually a friend who lives in Novia Scotia who inspired me to keep figs. Her Italian relatives (in Brooklyn and Boston, I believe) used to dig up, wrap,and then bury their figs every year. I was strangely enchanted by this, and started dreaming of figs.

cath said...

Catching up on old posts. Your figs look great. I might have commented earlier in the year that my dad's figs had an outstanding year. Hot and dry apparently is good for figs. My parents gave me a few sprouts to try out in my "garden". They are now safely tucked in my garage. Unfortunately while living on the coast is great for figs, it was not so great for dealing with storms. My parent's house is currently uninhabitable (as are many homes in my hometown of Island Park NY). Their yard was flooded with several feet of sea water (mixed in with other less pleasant stuff). I can't imagine the figs will make it--and I haven't opened any of the fig jam that I made, for fear of using up the last of the precious figs. Perhaps the fig sprouts they gave me will survive the New England winter in my garage and might be used to start a new batch of fig trees, though after living their for 30 years,I'm afraid my parents won't be living there long enough to see ripe fruit again.
All the best for 2013!


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