Friday, September 2nd
by Barbara Ozimec

Summer Highlights: In Search of Figs


When you spot a fig tree riddled with large round fruit dominate a front garden admist all the neighbouring maples, ash and gingkos on the block, you ought to stop, linger, and hope for the best. "It is four or five years old, it came from back home, from Portugal," says Adam, the owner of the Mediterranean treasure.

For many European immigrants in Toronto, the exotic trees not only provide a luxurious urban treat, but sustain memories of the home country. Fig cuttings have long been smuggled, rooted and propagated.

Native to the Mediterranean, figs thrive with hot, sunny summers and mild winters. With tender and exceptional care, however, the trees have done well in colder, less hospitable climes. Whether planted in a container or in the ground, the harsh winters require gardeners to play out the yearly in and out ritual.

Without resorting to stealth or illegal impulses, I happily discovered that fig tree owners are more than delighted to share not only their bounty but decades of successful growing practices.

Speaking swiftly and expertly, Adam dispenses growing techniques that have worked for him for years. "Sometimes I put in straight manure and cover up. See how healthy it is, pointing to the leaves and fruit. "Ground is better than the pot." Each year he digs up the tree, wraps the root bulb and places it in a container and in the basement. "You must put it in a cold place," instructs Adam. "It looks dead, no leaves. It is sleeping." During the winter, it is watered infrequently, about once a month.

After enjoying two soft figs Adam urges me to the backyard. He shows off a magnificent specimen in an oak barrel sitting atop a metal dolly. This one he admits, is a challenge. It is watered everyday in the summer and the size of the container has been steadily upgraded. Each year it is wheeled to the sunniest portion of the backyard. "More sun, more sweet," goes the mantra. Adam is nonchalent about all the care and attention required to maintain the trees, having been bound to the tradition for nearly 20 years since settling in Toronto. Even with all the back and forth he has no intention of letting them go. "Back home, we had a farm, I worked, we planted wheat, potatoes and grapes, I grew up with this kind of thing." 

The fig tree tour continues...





Source: Soiled And Seeded


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