Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Tangle with a Fig Tree

    Wednesdays are my days at our county's master gardens. Though my required hours for completing the program are well met, I still spend the day working and learning alongside seasoned growers. Arriving today, the question was posed- could I help pick figs. Why not. I'm always up for something new.
     Figs are something I have absolutely no experience with. While a fig tree is planted on my property, it generally suffers abuse and devastation from my donkey and his goat minions. Several years of returning from straggly nubs, the poor thing is short and rather puny. As soon as little green figs make an appearance something always swipes them before they ripen.
     The figs in the master gardens stand quite a bit taller than I and span the same distance around. After an hour of wiggling around the branches pinching plump, ripe fruits I ran into a nasty problem. Hives. It seems figs and I are not compatible..fig trees anyway.
     Once the nasty itch and raised rash subsided a few suspects came to light. It seems fig leaves secrete a sap that can be volatile to the skin and eyes. Another possible culprit is sprays. Our orchard department has new management that holds to a more natural growing plan, however, it is unclear what may have been used prior to this summer. Organic or not, sprays can be a volatile contact as well.
     While my first real interaction with fig trees was less than favorable, it wasn't all bad. I found the fruits themselves to be tender and very sweet especially when eaten right after picking. Then, some amazing preserve recipes were shared while we washed and put up the fruits; mock strawberry seems to be a common favorite among my garden friends.
      How about you? Ever tangled with a fig tree on a hot summer day?  

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