I’m taking a quick break from my weekly article about what to eat during the zombie apocalypse to bring you this update:
I have a new fig tree.
*yeah, so what?*
I LIVE IN NORTHERN ILLINOIS YOU FOOLS. THAT’S WHAT.
Now before I get accused of alchemy, I should point out that I recently discovered cold, hardy fig varieties which will survive in zone 5. After I picked myself up off the floor, I realized I could grow my own figs. MY. OWN. FIGS. I’ve never had a fresh fig before, the only figs I’ve had came from newtons, and we all know they’re nothing but lies wrapped in tasty crumbly crusts.
I ordered a variety that doesn’t get too tall since they graft a fig cutting onto the root stock of a smaller tree. Since I’m living in a colder climate than normal for the fig, they should also be cut back and wrapped every year to protect them. I planted it much the way I would any tree. First, I pre-dug the hole so there wouldn’t be a wait for my tree. Then I partially filled it back in with loosened soil so the roots could have an easy start. I placed my tree’s root ball into the hole after working it a bit with my fingers to loosen it up, and filled it 3/4ths of the way. I poured a bucket of water into the hole, and while it was soaking in, I filled in the rest of the dirt and tamped it down so there’s almost a saucer-like indent around the tree, when I water it again this way all the water stays near the roots. VOILA. A TREE IS PLANTED.
Cold hardy varieties include Celeste, Brown Turkey, and Hardy Chicago (that’s the one I got).
For those of you who want a little taste of fresh homegrown fruit but have no yard space, figs do exceptionally well in containers. They can be grown comfortably in 15-20 gallon containers, and while they need to have their root balls and branches pruned every year or so to maintain healthy growth, they’re incredibly easy going when it comes to living in a giant pot on your porch. When it comes to fruiting, make sure it’s a self pollinating variety, otherwise you’re S.O.L, because pollination is done by a very specific insect – the fig wasp, doesn’t that sound delightful? – that doesn’t really hang out in the U.S. on the regular. In winter, you can simply drag it into your unheated basement or garage to sleep away the winter. It does need to be watered very sparingly, but over-watering can fuck up it’s dormancy. If you’ve planted it outdoors, it simply needs to be wrapped up in some old carpet and a tarp – not clear or black, those trap too much heat – and left to nap.
You guys are probably looking at my fig tree and wondering why the hell I put cinder blocks around it. My answer?
Now, you’ve lovingly tended your fig tree through a season or so and have a bounty of figs. What to do?
FIGS IN A BLANKET. THAT’S WHAT.
From The Food Network site:
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 6 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
- 12 dried apricots
- 12 raisins
- 12 dried figs
- 6 slices prosciutto
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Chop the cranberries and mix them into the goat cheese.
- Cut the tops off the apricots and use your finger to open up a hole.
- Fill an apricot with some of the cheese mixture, then push a raisin into it. Fill a fig with some cheese, then push the apricot into it. Repeat until all the fruit has been used.
- Slice the prosciutto slices in half lengthwise and wrap a slice around each fig.
- Place on a baking sheet and bake until the prosciutto has browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool a bit before serving.
- LET THERE BE FIGS.