We recently put up a quick survey on our Facebook fan page and asked readers if they own a fig tree and we had well over 30 readers respond positively! The survey not only put a smile on my face but also re-assured me I wasn’t the only child who grew up with live Mediterranean fruit in their New Jersey backyard.
Fig trees dominate the landscape back in Italy, especially in the southern regions of Campania, Sicilia, Calabria, Puglia, etc. In our Calabrian village of Pellegrina (part of Bagnara Calabra) fig trees littered the countryside and were served in large baskets as post lunch dessert. The few trees my father kept in his New Jersey backyard produced limited fruit but were still light years ahead of any store bought figs and/or fig spread or dried figs. An added bonus for me as a child was the trees doubled as tackling dummies during the winter month, as my father wrapped the trees in burlap, plastic, and insulation to guard against freezing temperatures, snow, and wind (Lawrence Taylor had nothing on little Vincenzo Scordo). I’m currently in the process of scouting a location in our backyard for our potted fig tree plant and I’m hoping our son Tommaso doesn’t use the tree as practice for an NFL career.
Common fig varieties include: Brown Turkey, Hardy Celeste, Italian Golden Honey Fig, Violette Black, Green Ischia, Black Mission, Desert King, Kadota White, and Osborn’s Prolific. VeggieGardeningTips.com has an excellent page on fig trees. We hope you enjoy the following pictures of some local figs produced in various New Jersey backyards: