Italiangirl174 & Mongibello fig

robert_2007(5b/6a)October 18, 2009

After reading several comments about Hardy Chicago on the forum, I'm totaly confused as to whether or not the original Hardy Chicago is from one tree, or whether there are several different strains of Hardy Chicago fig trees. Italiangirl174 says her Hardy Chicago originates from Mount Etna and that her relatives have recently sent cuttings to her??? But, they call it Mongibello. So, my question is does that mean that the original person who brought Hardy Chicago to the United States several decades ago, took the cuttings from the very same tree that Italiangirl's relatives recently took and sent to her. Or, are there many different strains of Hardy Chicago fig (Mongibello) all growing in that area of Mount Aetna? Can some one including Italiangirl174 please clarify, Or comment. Thanks a lot. Bob

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Dennis AKA Snaglpus(8a)

You have a good point there Bob. I've purchased a few "Hardy Chicagos" over the past 12 months to see if they are the same tree. My 3 trees are small but next year I will have facts. The pictures I've seen on this forum of a Hardy Chicago looks very dark and some don't look the same...makes you wonder! I wish I could get a few cuttings from ItailianGirl's tree to add to my research. I think there are different variations of what is called the Hardy Chicago, but I do believe Italian Girl has the true tree. I would like to see pics again from those who have a full tree showing leaf pattern. Maybe we can rule out those that don't come close to ItalianGirl's tree. Just my 2 cents. cheers.....Dennis

    Bookmark   October 18, 2009 at 10:06PM
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This fig-naming bit is amusing. I just got through reading several sources to check the name and relationships for Petite Aubique, alias Bordeaux et Al. One source, the U of Cal at Davis, cites dozens of authors in its attempts to properly identify figs.

Now we have the Mongibello and Chicago Hardy; I like Mongibello and that is what I will label my trees, since we KNOW that Chicago Hardy was not the original name. (I've got them from two sources, so we will see if they are alike.)

Then there is Gene's Paradiso, which Gene says is indisputably the spitting image of the plant described ages ago by the old Italian whatsisname. Then Maggie has HER Paradiso, that which is like the Joe Morle fig called Paradiso. I have both, so I have labeled Gene's PARADISO and the Joe Morle fig is PARADISO REP, the Real Eyetalian Paradiso.

lol, Where I grew up folks said Eye-talian, not It-alian, but Maggie says she did not grow up in Eyetaly, so I have corrected my pronunciation if not my spelling.

Figs can be fun.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 11:51AM
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With all of the immigration over the years and with many bringing or sending cuttings of their favorite fig there is bound to be a lot of duplication. It only makes sense that there would be a lot of re-naming do to mislabeling or lost labels or a desire to honor ones ancestors.

I'm sure there are many figs in many old French, Italian and Greek neighborhoods scattered throughout the US that now have different names than they came here with. Some of them will be found and propagated and sold and many of them will have more than one source.
Some of them will be the same cultivars. Some will be different do to mislabeling or do to people doing their best to remember but getting it wrong.
Others will try to make money through selling trees purposely mislabeled which will add to confusion as Innocent buyers sell or gift cuttings causing even more confusion.

All of this has happened before and it will all happen again.

In some cases the wrongly named cultivars is the better one and the one that people think is the right one is the one that was mislabeled long ago. This is why I would rather buy or trade with a forum member or from the same nursery a forum member purchased their tree from because a tree of the same name may or may not be the same cultivars from one nursery to another or even from on person to another depending on where they sourced it.

I know we all know this but since I have such an amazing grasp of the obvious I thought I would post this those who are currently uninitiated.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 1:05PM
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There are thousands of varieties of figs from Europe. Common figs don't set seed unless pollinated, so most of those different varieties must have come from mutation, not seedling variability. We see different "strains" of single varieties here in the US. Adding to the confusion, figs grown under different conditions look different. Herman reported the same fig grown on different sides of his yard looked different!
Many have remarked about the similarity between Sal's and HC. They are very closely related and hard to tell apart. And there are other very similar figs that show "family" characteristics. One grouping is Adriatic, Galbun, Conadria and probably Lyndhurst White - they are distinct varieties, but very similar.
Fred Born found an unknown fig that was grown in Chicago and called it "Hardy Chicago". Maggie maintains that it is actually a fig called Mongibello from Mt. Etna. Maggie is observant, and she could be right. I am not disputing her identification. But there is not one Mongibello "mother" tree. A good fig is going to get passed around its locality and it's origin is likely lost in time. So, given the inclination for figs to mutate, I think it's a good idea to call any figs by the name it was recieved, especially until DNA evidence comes in. And even that might not settle the ID question. Apparently they only test a few genes, so very closely related figs can appear identical on the chart while actually having some different characteristics. I think changing the name on our Hardy Chicagos before growing them together with Mongibello for a while might only add to fig confusion if they turn out to be slightly different. Maggie has Mongibello, and in my opinion only figs grown from cuttings from her tree should carry the name for now.
Just my 2 cents.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 1:22PM
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Well guys, my interest is not as to whether or not Hardy Chicago is Mongibello or not. I simply wanted to try and locate the most cold hardy, most productive fig orignating on My Etna, that I could. At this point I'm not trying to find the true identity to figs. I simply want the most cold hardy and most productive figs I can find for a very cold zone 6. Figs that can be grown out side in my part of zone 6 without winter protection, once they are mature. So, after researching on the internet I noticed that the pictures I saw on the internet were some time different. So, It made me wonder what were the odds of the person who brought the original so called, "Hardy Chicago" to American, just happen to be the very same tree that Italiangirl's relative went to, to get her cuttings. Althought I do understand also that cuttings of a good variety such as mongbello would be duplicated over and over again in the same area. But, it just made me wonder whether or not if that was not the case then is Italiangirls Mongibello the best. I would imagine that her relatives growing 75 acres of figs would do like all farmers. That is select the strain of Mongibello that was the most cold hardy and produced the most figs, right? So, if that is so, then they just might have selected a Mongibello that is even more hardy the Fred Born's selction. That was my reasoning. I got started on this line of thought after receiving a so called, Hardy Chicago some 5 to 6 years ago. For us it never ripened maore then three to four figs a year. Even when we winter protected it. then I ran across Italiangirls comments about some of the pictures of the leaves of some forum member's, Hardy Chicago pictures. I can understand there being many Mongibellos on Mt. Etna, and they possible all originated from one tree that people kept taking cuttings from. If that is so, then how is it that some forum members have Hardy Chicago leaves with three lobes and some with five lobes? Was just wondering since I think that Hardy Chicago is the right direction for those of us looking for figs that are not only hardy enough for outside growing without protection in zone 6. But, also be very productive and taste great also. So, untill we can get from Italiangirl cuttings or a tree of Mongibello to grow side by side, we want know for sure if fred born's tree is the better one or whether Italiangirls mongibello is the one to grow. Bob

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 2:04PM
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Now I know why my ears were ringing, I don't think my handle was used so much on a single thread! I was emailed and told to check out the site as there was a question for me here, I HAVE NOT been coming to this site because I get tired of being dumped on with so much advertisements on gardenweb, so lately I have generally stayed in Jon's site, I don't like to be reading something then all of sudden in the middle of a sentence I get an advertisement for everthing god knows what then I can't X it out and I loose where I was reading. Wish gardenweb could take these pop ups out!!!! Now to this thread. My family has only a couple Mongibello on our orchards, not nearly as much as other varieties, I received mongibello cuttings from my friends who live in Sicilia, not my family. Actually, this was a while ago. I also had a Hardy Chicago, in my book they were identical growing side by side. I lost my Hardy Chicago and my Mongibello lives in another state with a brother who I don't communicate with right now. I had problems with his " friend " and we haven't spoken since. I also know the tree is doing well and that it very hardy. I questioned why the tree was named differently, and people over seas questions too as they know where it came from and the characteristics, but as I was told before, changing the name was done in U.S. when the original history was lost of the tree ect. Yes, this variety of tree is dominant in the area of Mt. Etna, Sicilia and the people there know its name as Mongibello, and share the cuttings and thats how I got It. I would have no idea if the one fred bourne found was the original mongibello, if the person who had the tree in their yard brought it with them from Sicily in that area where the H.C. and Mongibello were first cultivated, probably, but I wouldn't know. It was interesting how Hardy Chicago so happened to have came from Etna, and it being identical to our Mongibello. I agree with fignut, call it what you got it as. My hardy Chicago died. I don't have any of them now, so I can't help than to get friends in Sicilia to mail me more, or if my family could mail me something from their trees, I don't know.My family in Italy grow all their trees for the simple reason to make money on the fruit and sometimes its hard getting them to send me cuttings alot, they tell me how can they make money if they keep going to post office mailing figs to me. I have quit asking them for now, they will mail more when winter months come, our orchards are our life there. My family hardy ever talks about the big Mongibello's they have, they may have taken them out for all I know. Personally, with the History of Hardy Chicago being from MT. Etna and the way it looks identical to Mongibello, I personally will say they are the same. I believe that was its orginal name before it immigrated to Chicago. I will make note to ask Caterina and Gregorio to send me a few more sticks of Mongibello and I will let everyone know and if works out, I will share. I haven't checked the weather channel but it will be when hell freezes over before I talk to that brother of mine who has my original Mongibello!!!! Ciao

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 2:54PM
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Wow, 5 years old and only get 3 or 4 figs a year? Have you tried pinching? If not, do that next year and you'll get more ripe fruit.

To do that, just pinch the tips after it grows the first 5-6 leave/branch in the spring. This forces that branch to grow figs earlier (but fewer) that'll actually ripen for you. You may also need to thin the fruits down to 3 or 4 per branch. Do a search on it and you'll find quite a bit of info on that.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 2:57PM
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xgrndpounder(Z 8 E. Tx.)

Hell will freeze over before!?

Maggie Girl, don't worry about getting a Hardy Chicago
I think I can get one to ya next year........HAHA

I'll say one thing, I wouldn't want to be your brother right about now!


    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 3:10PM
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LOL, Maggie;
I'm sorely tempted to call mine Mongibello anyway. I like that name better than Hardy Chicago. Matter of fact I think I am going to plant my Mongibello right beside my REP.

Thisisme: Stop that; I almost fell out of my chair when I read that "Amazing grasp of the obvious" bit!

Fact is that my three Chicago Hardy (two sources) have not shown much vigor this year. Neither of the two potted figs produced and one in the ground produced but did not ripen figs. The in-ground tree is about three feet high and bushy; it should produce next year if I can keep it from freezing back.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 4:51PM
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robert 2007:
Did you get my email?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 5:17PM
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Dennis AKA Snaglpus(8a)

Maggie, you can do what I did to get rid of the popups, just get you a free LINUX CD that's bootable and live and you will never get a popup! I'm writing you from my IBM Thinkpad using a Puppy Linux Live CD. Everything runs from the CD and nothing touches your hard drive and never any virus or popups. I've been using Linux for years and my laptop has not been turned off for over 9 months! Get Linux and you will be happy. Dennis

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 9:35PM
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I am glad that you tracked down Hardy Chicago's proper name. Mongibello (Etna) seems a good name for a fig that originated from that mountain. Much better than a midwestern city that was the second home for a fig brought to Brooklyn from Sicily. By any name, though, a great fig. If you don't get any cuttings from home, I have two that could provide cuttings.


    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 11:26PM
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CCC1, I only learned about pinching figs the first of July of this year. So, by the time the figs shown up it was around July 15th. Pinching does appear to work for us. In that it makes the plant stop growing upward and start producing figs. In the past without the pinching, our so called Hardy Chicago would grow up to around 8 feet or more with maybe a hundred or so figs That never ripened. After pinching in july we got only four figs and they are still green. Next year we will pinch a lot earlier. If that does not work then I'm going to graft something else to the root stock, since it occupies the best location in our yard, in the v of the chimney on the south side of the house. Scott, why do you feel your Hardy Chicago is a great fig? From most of what I have read about Hardy Chicago, for most of us it is not a heavy bearing tree. So, It makes me wonder once again what Italingirls relatives are growing in their orrchard compared to what we have here, as Mongibello. Farmers who have to make a living from their trees don't keep trees that are unproductive. Are there any forum members out there who have a tree that is being called Hardy Chicago that they consider is hardy and also productive? Bob

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 6:57AM
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Trees growing in the Us are not going to perform as would trees growing in a Mediterranean climate,in volcanic ash, on the side of a mountain.

Mongibello might not be the best tree here, or even a good tree.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 7:14AM
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I have two Hardy Chicago trees that haven't produced much fruit in my Semi Tropical climate. They are still young and maybe they will improve in a year or two. If they don't, it's off to fig heaven for them.


    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 10:49AM
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giants_2007(10 PSL FL Sal)

Maggie I also have a tree which came via my uncle in Ny via his cousin in Sicily area of Catania town of Linguaglossa I'm not sure if tree was located in his home town orchid or his orchids on the mountain. Here are some pics if you can see any similarities

1) moter tree in NY 2) my tree pics and fruit and lava from Etna in my possesion 30+ yrs


    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 11:19AM
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I do have a small colection of the Sicilian (Mt Etna)
HC/Sal (of similar leaf shape - [but somewhat different
My take on this... There MUST be that (in)famous fig-wasp
on Mt. Etna that have PRODUCED many very-close-fig-cousins
off some good parent(s).

Heck, in my very young teens with then my 20/20++ eye vision
on 2 very 'clear' days (I thing) that I have seen
(blurry) Mt. Etna from ~60 miles south, off my native tiny island.
If I ever visit my home again, I will make sure to
take the (1 hour) ferry trip to Sicily - AND enjoy myself...

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 5:55PM
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giants_2007(10 PSL FL Sal)

George I spent 2 nights right up on the crater 30 yrs ago all I remember is it was figgin cold at the top below freezing and low 90's below.I was only 15 but wild and ate so many figs my first days that I was sick for a couple days the family just laughed as this kept me home for those few days
anyway my tress are only 1+yr old and I don't know if appearance of fruit will change. They are a very good and productive fig here so far

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 6:16PM
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giants_2007(10 PSL FL Sal)

Perfect name "Beautiful Mountain"

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 8:17AM
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The fig tree adapts itself to adverse conditions such as cold.
If a fig tree was taken from Sicily Farm to Boston,as an Example,and if the owner manage to Keep it alive with protection,for about ,more than ten years,then,at that point the fig in Boston,is more cold hardy than the Mother fig in Sicily.
Soooo,it will be much better,for a gardener in New York to get a cutting from a fig that spent 10 years in Boston,fighting cold winter year after year.
I know there are scientist that maintain that all trees have built in the genes qualities ,like cold hardiness,and they never change.
Other like Charles Darwin believe in adaptation for survival ,of all living things,including trees.
I believe the fig can adapt,as explained above.
I do have some experience.
I have a Gino's fig,and a fig that came from Raintree mislabeled,as Violette de Bordeaux.
Grown side by side,they are identical in leaves and fruits quality and taste.
But they are not identical in cold hardeness.
They were both protected the same ,are the same age,and last winter:
Gino's fig came in the Spring entire,with no cold Damage,and is now 4 foot tall,loaded with fruits.
The Raintree misslabeled fig,died to 6 inches tall,and is growing up now,and of course have only a few fruits at this time.
The Gino's fig seem to have been here in NJ for a long time,while The tree from Raintree,did not.
That made the difference,in cold hardiness.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 9:57AM
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giants_2007(10 PSL FL Sal)

Very good observation Herman I received a Sal C about 3 months ago and it has adapted well to my hot climate I wonder how after a few years it would do if shipped or cuttings taken from it were to go back up north? I would imagine in time it would adapt again to the colder environment

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 10:32AM
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I agree with you!Giant

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 4:12PM
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Too bad for us in the cold zones because your theory/observation can then also work in reverse in places where we have to protect the plants in cold cellars and so gradually the hardiest one can lose its hardiness over a long period of time and adapt to the luxurious protected life.
Darwin smartly mentioned thousands and in some cases millions of years for his theroy of adaptation so no one is able to prove or disprove it by demonstration so it really remains just a belief like any other beliefs.
There is more believable theory of adaptation of nature's selection or survival of the fittest cross-pollinated new
plants coming into existence in many species thus increasing the varieties.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 8:25PM
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Fig tree is more adaptable than most plants,we know.
Yes other plants needed thousand of years to improve themself for survival,in one climate type.
Yet The fig tree is a unique plant that adapt in many climates,and is also special because it does it very fast.
Nursery in Europe when they sell fig trees,never forget to mention,the word "adapted",if it is,because that is the most important quality a fig tree can have.
In Italy Dotato,is the fig that cary the name (ADapted),because Dotato is a short for the world.
No other fruit plant have a cultivar,called "Adaptated",because other Fruit plants do not adapt like fig tree does.
Try to grow Oranges or Banana,European grapes,or Apricots,in New Jersey,(I did),and the result is totally impossible.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 2:37PM
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Hi Bob
here are picture of my Hardy Chicago bought from paradise nursery around 2004. Its my hope to grow Mongibello one day and compare when its mature the leaves and figs.

I cannot answer your questions accurately, fig trees can react differently grown in pots, inground, type of soil, etc in different climate in leaf shape and fruit at times from what i have seen on forums and read thru out the years.

I have many pictures of my hardy chicago as its one of my favorites and is very hardy but i only container grow and store in garage.
Each year at this size ( i keep it that way) it produces over 100 ripe figs except last season due to my heavy root pruning the previous winter and my failure to trim canopy to match roots , the coolest summer since growing my trees also was a factor.

The tree displays leaves mostly like this picture below

These set of leaves are not dominant ones but do appear, shown here for display of different shapes.

I have many pictures of fruit but dont want to bore anyone, the fruit is very rich fig tasting.
Best Health

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 10:55AM
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giants_2007(10 PSL FL Sal)

Martin I love that Picture. The leaf shape in second pic sure does look like My blk unknown Pictured up post

    Bookmark   July 9, 2010 at 11:13AM
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Martin, thanks for posting the picture of your Hardy Chicago fig leaf. I have added it to my catalog of fig leaf pictures. Yours look a lot like my Hardy Chicago leaf.

I was going to get rid of my Hardy Chicago because it kept getting winter/frost killed each year. That was because when I bought it about six years ago, I figured with a name like Hardy Chicago, It could be grown like a apple or pear tree.

Then last winter I did not have enough rat poison to place around the tree when I buried it, it was the only fig out of 9 buried figs that was eaten up by mice. The mice not only ate up the entire top but also the root system, going down about two feet.

But, it came back around the first of June and is now about three feet tall. So, because I knew that it was your favorite tasting fig and also the favorite fig for taste by Ray Givens, I decided to keep it. Plus, although it appears to be frost sensitive Herman2 rates it as a A+ fig for the Northeast.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 9:17PM
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Darn sounds like there having a nice dinner in the winter.
I doubt any fig tree would survive in my yard unprotected as i read up some post and seen your looking for something in your area that might you never know ! According to the USDA hardiness chart im in 5 to 5a i think your around 6 or 6 b i forget.
I have ben tempted to stick this HC inground as its mature but i dont want to kill it cause at times we get some real cold spells like 2 seasons back at 18 to 23 below for a solid week at night and hitting only zero at best during day not to mention the wind. At that time it was between 6 to 8 above in garage were all my plants were stored and this one had no damage but its out of the elemnets completely. So i just grow in containers not inground or i would have to bury them which grandmother did in Chicago each year with help .

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 9:53PM
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The Colasanti Dark is also from Sicily and very similar to my Hardy Chicago from Richters Herbs in leaf & Fruit and very very close to my Natalina From Grimonut. Also have a Hardy Chicago from Paradise Nursery Thanks to Martin but leaves are a little different than the other three. My Cousins Neighbour here in toronto who is Sicilian has a dark fig that he brough from Sicily with similar leaves as well but the figs are a little bigger and more round. Will try to get some cuttings this fall from his tree.

Colasanti Dark Leaves, Maggie this look similar to your Mongibelo??

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 10:27AM
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Ciao Nelson, you are right, I also have a Natalina ( from family orchards in Italia) which I have and the leaves are very very similar to HC and them and also the fruit. I am wondering as to your Colasanti only for one reason and that is the eye of your your figlets, I have noticed the eye is very light as opposed to a darker eye meaning a darker fig? Also, leaves are different as well from Mongi and the rest in that family. Keep a good eye on these Sicilian figs, its interesting to me this aspect. Ciao Nelson, very beautiful tree.
P.S. Mongibello also gets reddish, the new leaves emerging, seems characteristic, also noticed my Chieti and Natalina also with this reddish leaf pattern. Ciao

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 2:04PM
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Hi Nelson and forum members. ; )
Maggie asked me to post these pictures of her young Mongibello.
Here they are as 3 sent to me.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 3:12PM
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Thank you Maggie & Martin the eye on the colasanti Dark seems to be closed, this plant broke dormancy early and was loaded with figs after 3 nights of frost in may lost nearly all the figs, but has started producing more now. Here is a pic of one of the main crop figs that did not fall off after the frost and a new one growing. So far it ripend two figs about the size of a quarter unfortunately for me my father ate them and told me they were good lol early bird gets the worm.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 7:28AM
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