If you have lived in the south or have been to California,
you may have fond memories of tasting fresh figs at the farmers market or
picking them from a tree.
Moving to the Midwest, where the weather doesn’t just dip below freezing
for a few hours but stays there for days on end, which isn’t good growing conditions for figs, doesn’t mean that one needs to give up eating fresh figs.
Figs do grow in Missouri. The first time I saw them growing outdoors was at Powell Gardens.
There was a row of plants next to a building and they were more like shrubs
than the large tree in our yard as a youth in Southern California. But, to my amazement,
these shrubs did produce figs. And if they could grow them, I figured, I could too.
After planting a rooted cutting, in our Courtyard here at the winery, I anxiously
waited for the plant to get big enough to produce figs.
I can laugh about it now, but I was a little discouraged during the first summer, since the plant got cut to the ground twice
by the well meaning gardeners whose weed eaters didn’t recognize an edible plant!
These young men hadn’t ever seen a fig tree or bush.
It would have helped if I had put a wire fence around it the first time, but
nonetheless, I planted another rooted cutting and this time I did protect it! This year was the 3nd summer and it was loaded with figs!
Figs ripen from the bottom to the top of the branch, so I would regularly check the bush throughout the fall for ripe figs. They continued to ripen up to the first frost.
Chef Marc featured a pizza special this fall topped with figs and paired it with our Missouri Chambourcin Wine. He also included figs in a topping for his Pumpkin Soup that he was serving as an appetizer in the Wine Garden. He and Wine Club Manager, Stephen, had paired this with Missouri Chardonel Wine. To use figs in a savory dish was new for me, since our figs were always eaten up fresh. That just gives me a reason to plant more next year.
In the years to come, guests can be on the lookout for the figs growing in our farmscape. Maybe, some will be inspired to grow their own. Or, maybe seeing the fig leaves or fruit will just bring back memories of a time when figs were enjoyed fresh.