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Why I Love To Grow Figs

Posted by BronxFigs Zone-7 (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 25, 12 at 22:07

I really didn't give this subject much thought, and if I was pressed for a quick answer to this question, I suppose I would just say that I have a love growing plants, in general, and since the fig is a plant, I love growing figs too.

But upon more careful thought, I think that our fig trees are very different than most of the other plants that we could grow.

I am not a very patient person, and I have a very short attention span. The first thing I learned about growing figs is that you can expect results from your growing efforts very quickly. You can buy a fruiting-size fig tree and have instant gratification, or you could start from scratch, root some cuttings and still get fruit in maybe two growing seasons. What other fruit trees start producing in so short a time...and without another variety for pollination? Apples, Pears, Olives, Persimmons, Paw-Paws etc. all need at least two-to-tango...double the space...double the costs, and a long wait for fruiting.

Figs are very dynamic growers, and they force you to do something to keep them within bounds, like pinching, pruning, fertilizing, re-potting, root-pruning, etc. For me, it keeps my interest to see the rapid changes in the plant from season to season, and to actively play a part in the production of fruit. Even while dormant, they still provide an interest by giving us plenty of materials for propagation. Trying to root cuttings is a very interesting project and also very rewarding. How satisfying is it to give away new trees to friends and family...trees that you rooted?

The fig trees help us make new friends, lets us exchange growing ideas, lets us trade cutting wood, and helps us spread superior varieties all over the world with other fig-lovers/growers. They can also provide us with wonderful, and nostalgic memories. How many times does a fig grower wish they could once again watch their grandfathers lovingly tend to the beloved, family fig tree, and taste the thick, jammy fruit that grandpa just picked... still warm from the sun? No other fruit trees give us such a rich opportunity.

Life passes us by very quickly, and we all could use some time to unwind and relax. Tending to our fig trees forces us to stop for a while, and slow down the fast pace. The fig tree almost always rewards our nurturing attention.

The fig tree is a true gift from God.

Just sharing some thoughts with my fellow fig-lovers.

Frank/BronxFigs


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

  • Posted by noss Zone 9a Lafayette, L (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 25, 12 at 23:35

Those are some very good thoughts, Frank. I find them so true. Thanks for starting this thread.

noss


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

noss...

You are most welcome. I hesitated at first, but posted it anyway. Glad you found something of value, and contemplative.

Frank


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

I'm with you Frank. I grow several different types of fruit trees, but there's just something special about figs. Their fruit is the most delicious, and in my climate they have the longest harvest season of everything that I grow. If I could only have one fruit tree, no question about it, I would choose to plant a fig.

Joe


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

That's some good thoughts about fig trees. The fig really is a special fruit. I read that the fig is mentioned 30 times in the Bible. It's also special to me because I have trees that I rooted from my Grandparents and Great-grandparents homes.


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

frozenjoe:
I happy that you have shared some of your thoughts with me, and I hoped that you enjoyed, to some extent, my thoughts. I agree. Figs are a very special fruit, to be savored, and appreciated. Out of all my trees and plants, Figs have provided me with the most satisfaction and the joy-of-growing.

wisner:
Your Great-Grandparents, and Grandparents will always be with you and still provide you with the gift of loving memories. Their legacy, and goodness becomes tangible every time you tend to your fig trees, and eat their sugary, fruits. Your ancestors gave those figs to you, and to those you love. That's their way of keeping-in-touch.

Have a wonderful growing season.

Frank


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Thanks Frank for the kind words.


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

Fig trees ARE special. What other tree needs so little attention when it comes to insects and produces fruits that are practically jam when you pick them ripe off the tree? What other fruit tree regularly grows 6 to 8 feet in one year and has such beautiful foliage? What other tree can seemingly come back from the dead after a freeze that would turn an eskimo blue? What other tree can be so easily rooted from cuttings....some as little as an inch long? What other tree has so many cultivars with new ones popping up seemingly without end? As a matter of fact I have put all my other fruit trees on notice....."any of you that give up the ghost will be replaced immediately with a fig tree of my choosing".


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

polyphemus....

How true, how true. I wouldn't even waste my time and money growing other fruit trees that may or may not produce. If I want a perfect apple, or ripe peach, I'll go to the store and buy some. I can't and will not deal with potential rusts, blights, blossom-end rot, mildew sprays, early fruit drop, pollination from the bees,...yada, yada, yada.

Figs are as fool-proof as a fruit-tree can get, provided that you pick the right variety for your growing conditions. Then you're good to go.

Until 2007, I never knew a fig tree could be grown in a container. I had absolutely no desire to wrap any trees in old carpets and tar-paper, then hope they lived until the next spring. The old Italians in my neighborhood would do this every fall, only to lose some trees every spring. The figs were also lousy, dry, and tasted like a rubber band. My first dealings with the REAL WORLD of fig possibilities came with a trip out to the now defunct, much lamented, Bellclare Nursery. Unfortunately, right after my first visit out there to Long Island, they closed up shop, so I never did but any trees from them.

That trip led me to this forum, and I never looked back. In 2007, I bought my first "experimental" trees from Zaino's Garden Center, Westbury, Long Island. I expected my trees to die after the first winter. But I containerized the trees, followed the directions that Bellclare provided, and my trees lived!...and then gave me figs!! I was approaching Nirvana! I was thrilled!! I was happier than a pig in _ _ _ _ !!! I GREW FIGS!

So, my fig trees are really special. With the stress that I endure, I'm sure I would've been on some shrinks couch a long time ago if I didn't have to tend to my trees. Yes, they also provide relaxation, and force you to forget your troubles. Another blessing.

Frank


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Right on Frank! My kids love eating them so I decided to try and grow them here in Orange County, NY. This will be my third spring growing figs. I've had lots of great help from folks here over the years. The first season was no good for me with rooting cuttings. I kept at it last spring and finally got four strong plants that grew well last summer. I planted two in the ground and kept two in pots that wintered over nicely in my garage. The potted plants have been moved to a south facing wndow since the tips woke up and are growing already. The plants in the ground I had some dieback but I hope they make it. I'm excited about the upcoming growing season and looking for perhaps my first fig.

I'm curious what figs are you growing? I received cutting of VDB and Hardy Chicago from members here.

Good luck and hope you have a bountiful harvest this year!

Rich


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

Both my grandfathers, who grew figs, lived into their 80's. They tended to the figs while in their 80's.


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

  • Posted by gorgi z6b_NJ (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 27, 12 at 11:22

I just grew up with them figs...


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

Rich, in Orange County, NY:

Growing figs, in-ground, in zone-6, is pushing your luck. I'm in Zone 7B, and I will not, and do not take the chance of losing my figs, so they are grown in large, 20 gallon containers.
I grow a variety called "Atreano", and since 2007 I have had no problems with this variety. It's a good, short-summer fig, grows vigorously each year, and grows wonderfully sweet, golden-yellow figs. I finish picking figs by the last weeks of August, and if late, the first weeks in September. I get dozens of main-crop figs. The trees stay outside into dormancy, and then they are rolled into my unheated storage shed until the last weeks in March...depending on the weather. I took my trees out last week. No die-back either.

Rich...if your in-ground figs continue to keep dying back each year, these poor trees will constantly devote all their fig producing energy into making new wood, and struggle just to stay alive. At the very least, your main-crop figs will start late in our short growing season, and may not have enough time to ripen properly. Then Richie gets no, or worse, lousy figs!

Just a suggestion:...plant your fig trees in large tubs - (Home Depot sells cheap plastic storage tubs) - drill some large drainage holes in the bottom, and sink them halfway into the ground. Then pull them out when the trees go dormant and store in an unheated garage. Take them out of the garage the following spring, when buds start to swell and turn green, and re-sink them back into the ground. Your fig trees will start back up where they left off, and will increase in size and productivity. Then Richie gets to taste some figs! I move my containerized figs around on dollies. So far, no hernias.

Good luck. Let us know how things turn out...and a happy growing season to you too. Hope the "VDB" and "Hardy Chicago" works for you. Hopefully your kids will love growing figs as much as you do.

Frank


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Frank, How large is the Altreano? Can you prune the branches back before bringing it in for the winter if it is too big?
I'm guessing that this isn't a dwarf variety.
Terry


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

Terry...

My "Atreano" tree is about 6 - 6-1/2 feet tall from bottom of the container to the tips of the branches. It is a single-stem tree with the branches concentrated towards the top. It is not a very large tree at all, and it is very easy to roll around because the container rests on top of a 4-wheeled dolly.

You absolutely can trim back some extra wood before bringing it in, but using the correct pinching techniques throughout the growing season, will minimize the need for hard pruning. Growth can be easily controlled by nipping out sprouting buds. Check this forum for pinching/pruning techniques.

Fig trees can grow quite large unless the growth is controlled. Only the really dwarf varieties will grow smaller, but even they need some pinching back.

All of the different growing methods that you will find on this forum are really easy, and you should not worry too much about making mistakes. We will not let this happen. Just keep us informed if you run into a problem. Just ask us what to do before it gets out of hand.

There are many, many figs that you can try, but if you are going to grow these trees in Upstate, NY, your main problem will be keeping it alive over the brutal winters. Your best shot at success is to containerize the tree and store it in an unheated garage. Growing your tree in-ground, I think, will be the kiss of death. Figs are semi-tropical...Upstate, NY is not. You haven't mentioned where this tree will be stored for the winter months. Unheated garage/storage sheds will probably work if not too cold...basements are usually too warm, and so are sun-rooms, living-rooms, sunny windows, etc. Figs need to be kept dormant throughout our dark, freezing winters, and kept dormant until warm spring weather will allow new growth to develop properly.

You will be happy that you are growing figs.

Hope this will be some help.

Frank


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

I have been keeping the potted figs in our unheated basement and then we have to carry them outside in the spring. It is difficult because the pots are a little heavy and were not getting any younger, and there is a staircase. My dh is very good and always helps me with this chore. It would be nice to be able to plant the figs in the ground if we move south someday.
By the way, if you are interested in selling a rooted cutting from your Altreano please let me know .


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

You can go to the store and buy a decent apple (only if it's Pink Lady, IMHO). The professional growers can store a pink lady reasonably well for 3 or 4 months, so that means I can buy one that's pretty good for 8 months out of the year, since they can grow them in the southern hemisphere too. The flesh is firm enough that it can survive shipping. If I grew apples, I'm not sure I would be able to store them for more than a month or two.

If I try to grow an apple, it will take 5 years before it produces a fruit. Since I live on the east coast, it will be subject to tremendous disease and insect pressure, and almost impossible to grow without significant use of fungicide and pesticide. Also, if I want a manageable sized tree, it pretty much has to be grafted onto a dwarf rootstock, which means I have to pay a nursery a fairly large price for it.

Similar statements are true of most fruits in the apple family (pear, plum, cherry, apricot, peach, nectarine).

I can go to the store and get a decent grape year round, for not too much money.

I can't go to the store and buy a fresh fig 95% of the year. And when I can, it probably was picked before ripe, and is really expensive.

On the other hand, if I grow a fig tree, it probably will have no trouble with pests or diseases. It is easy to propagate via cutting, and there are inexpensive ways of getting scion. It has a beautiful growth habit. Deer and other wildlife probably won't mess with it.

I also am drawn to the uniqueness of it. Most people I talk to are surprised when they find out I grow figs. It's certainly a topic for conversation. If I give them to my young children, I can foster a life long common interest, a bond we share.

I particularly enjoy propagating cuttings during the long, dark and dreary winter months, when there is little green outside. To go into my fig propagation area, and see the life everywhere, helps me make it through.

When I receive a cutting of a new variety, there's the hope and promise of what it might be like. Will it taste great? Different from the others? To wait a year or two is fun and suspenseful. If it were an apple tree, to wait 4 years would be too long.

And yes, they taste great. I also love to eat them dried, and they keep very long if dried properly. So even if one day I manage to grow more than I can eat fresh, I'll be able to dry the surplus for enjoyment throughout the winter.


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

Rob23b:

The merits of growing fig trees far exceed the demerits. I can think of no other fruit trees that are so beloved by their owners. I only wish I had started to grow fig trees when I was much younger.

I would also like to point out something else our fig trees have given us. We have our own special forum where we can ask advice if we have troubles, we can communicate ideas, exchange varieties with each other, critique our figs, warn each other about lousy nurseries, and just shoot the breeze about figs in general. Since 2007, the year I started growing, every time I asked a question, the members of this forum always jumped in and helped me through my difficulties, and shared in my triumphs.

Thank-you, one and all, for the best gift...making this forum friendly, fun, and, for the coterie of fig lovers. Everything I know about figs was learned on this forum.

Warmest regards,

Frank/BronxFigs


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

That's my thought to, I wish I'd started growing them when I was younger.
What puzzels me is that few people in areas where figs would grow outside don't grow them. Like in Louisianna. I was in Shrieveport and only saw one fig tree. I would have a yard full of them.


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

Excellent thread Frank.

Well, I grew figs because the wife loves fresh figs. Got deep into it because I discover there's a ton of varied tinkering techniques that are challenging to my stale mind growing them in my zone.

Walla, we not only enjoy the rewards of fresh home grown tasty figs but the many friendships cultivated via helping each other across space.


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

paully22....

Glad you are enjoying the postings on this thread.

Just curious. You mentioned that the wife loves the fresh figs. Is that what started you on growing figs, and did you like tending to the figs right from the start, or did it take time for you to learn to love growing your fig trees?

In my case, I started to really enjoy the nurturing aspect of growing these trees, and especially watching these trees put on some incredible growth in only a few months. Big changes in a short amount of time, keeps my interest at a peak. After one year of this, I was hooked, and now I love growing these trees, and actually look forward to each growing season. After living in NYC for 62 years, few things excite me, but growing figs comes close...and a delicious Pastrami-Brisket Combo on Rye with kosher dills, from Katz's Deli on Grand Street.... Oy! I could just plotz! (Just some New Yawk-Yiddish vernacular).

A very rewarding endeavor, this growing of figs.

Frank


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

  • Posted by gorgi z6b_NJ (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 30, 12 at 18:49

@BronxFigs
Frank,
Reading most your recent posts;
you are one heck of an amazing fig-newbie!
I wish all newbies are like you...
Thanks much for your contributions to this good GW/FF.


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

gorgi....

Very nice to read your gracious remarks, and I do hope I might have helped some others, in my small way.

I try to share my fig-growing observations with other members. All that I know about growing figs, I learned right here. I guess I can still be considered a newer grower compared to some others who have been growing for years, and years. I hope to continue for as long as possible, and I will share my successes and failures with all my fig friends.

Warmest regards to all forum members.

Frank


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

  • Posted by noss Zone 9a Lafayette, L (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 30, 12 at 21:22

Hi James,

I think many people in the South don't grow figs because they either don't like them, or they know someone who does who they can get them from. So many people have fig trees stuck into a corner of their yards and they take it in stride.

I'll bet there were many more fig trees in Shreveport than you realized. I've been seeing more and more fig trees right in my own area than I knew were there because now I'm looking for them. They're a bit hard to see tucked in with all the other lush greenery around here, but I'm seeing more and more of them all the time and many are young ones.

I wish I knew people I could get figs from rather than growing them. Mostly because I don't have much room, plus I seem to kill any cutting I try to root except for the first one I grew when I didn't have a clue about what to do and just stuck it into a pot of regular dirt, made sure it didn't dry out and it grew and is now a small tree living in the Southwest, may it have a long, healthy life in its new home and bear many, many figs for its new owner. :)

Also, it may be that people think like my family did when we lived in NJ when I was growing up. We knew we could go to NYC any time we wanted to see the Empire State building, the Statue of Liberty, or any other place there. Mostly, Mom took me over there to the Central Park Zoo, or the Bronx Zoo. When we had company, we would go to NYC with them and had a ball. Never mind that, though--If you think you can do something any time you want, you may end up not doing it, because you know you could any time you want.....

noss


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

Frank -- the wife preference for fresh figs was instrumental & this forum fed my determination to do something about fresh figs. Never knew they were so many yummie variants until I came across gardenweb. Pictures of the fig interior was just so mouth watering.

When I 1st started to look for fig trees, I had issues getting fig varieties in Canada. I wrote and found out from Canadian Food Inspection Authorities in Ottawa that I can bring in figs from continental USA with proper permits and I brought in Jon's collection. Later on my search around Vancouver surprises me that they were so many fig trees. Actually we were once given a fig tree when we own our 1st home. Unfortunately we had not tasted a fresh fig then. So it was no big deal with figs as all dried figs don't taste that great. Neglect killed the gift after the 1st winter. Years later I picked some fresh fig from an Ital friend's house and took it home. It was an instant love. Wish I had discover it while I was courting. It would have saved me tons of money & time. Funny thing is I got scolded when I 1st bought wife flowers. She says I am wasting money on something that would die in no time. But with figs, she encourages me to grow them. She just loves fresh figs, so is my boy and the dog too. Its funny. My son & the dog does their fig patrols, competitive urges for a good fresh figs. I got to beat all of them for the wife's sake. Its the dog bone if I don't. I hope you understand why it is so interesting for me -- happening in my own backyard. I hope you have better luck than me as I am now the slave to ensure fresh figs are available for so many mouths. So help if you have any exciting variants for me to discover.


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I think the first thing that interested me about figs was its history and that it has been cultivated and used for thousands of years. I'm still thinking of trying to grow and olive tree too.


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

paully22...

That's quite a background story! The bottom line is the wife is happy, and you get to grow figs for everybody, slave, or, no. It becomes a labor-of-love.

I wish I did have some exciting variants to share with you and others, but I am now only growing "Atreano", which was the first and only fig I bought, back in 2007. I consider myself a newer grower, and I'm still learning how to get the most from my fig trees. The "Atreano" has been a real pleasure to grow, and eating the figs is even better. Honestly, I'd grow fig trees even if I hated the fruit.

tmc2009....
Olives once interested me also, but living in Zone-7, NYC quickly put a halt to those thoughts. If I had a heated greenhouse, I would have some trees.

Very interesting tangents, comments, and responses to such a simple, original question. Thanks for making this such an interesting excursion into our personal reasons for growing figs.

Frank


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

  • Posted by noss Zone 9a Lafayette, L (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 1, 12 at 4:42

Paully is a very wise man, keeping his wife happy because if Mama ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy. What a lucky wife you have, Paully. ;)

noss


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

I rescued a petit negra fig from the back lot of a feed store and nursery on 4th of July weekend, it was otherwise destined for the trash since few people here on the Gulf Coast are thinking about planting fruit trees in mid-summer and it had gone unclaimed for so long...I have been browsing this forum ever since because I know zero about fig cultivation and need to educate myself. What a wonderful thread this is - I had to add to it even though it appears to have gone dormant for a while. I grew up in New Orleans where backyard fig trees were taken for granted until Katrina changed everything. My little fig keeps fond memories alive. I have even told my four citrus trees that if they don't produce fruit next season (their fourth in my backyard), I plan on replacing them with fig trees....


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

This is a really inspiring post. My DH has talked about getting a fig plant for a long time. Now I'm trying to figure out what is best for a container for my climate (nyc) and where I should try and hunt down a cutting!


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

Frank, figs are delicious and easy to grow. Small figs taste like candy if you pick them at the right time. Here in Georgia, my favorite is the brown turkey. I don't know if it is the English Brown Turkey or the California Brown Turkey-all I know, is that it is delicious. I have 3 BT and 1 Celeste so far. I am going to buy a black mission and see what they taste like but the most amazing thing that I have learned from first hand experience is that they have their own built-in fertilizers. It doesn't take a whole lot of fertilizer to make them grow. If you haven't read it already, surf through the fig section of this forum. I wrote a story about my neighbors tree tremendously outgrowing mine and I bought the tree for her on her birthday the same time as I bought mine! You could not tell that they are the exact same age by looking at them. Mine are below minimum size due to over fertilizing and her tree is a giant due to non-fertilizing. I wrote a response to Laura441, where she was enquiring about the fertilizers to use on fig trees. I had to share this story and it is 100% true. I have included pictures to validate my claims, please read it to get a good laugh! But here's the funniest part of all-every day when I open up my bedroom window or just to take a look out, I see the tree that put me to shame!!! And now, it has grown another 2 inches (14 feet high) which really makes my fig trees look like wimps! Nonetheless, I love my trees and in October of this year, they will be planted in just plain ole Georgia red clay!!! Fig trees are guaranteed pleasers. I have many assorted fruit trees but I can always expect something out of my fig trees! They are something I can truly depend on...And Frank, thanks for writing this message. Sometimes we just need to talk about the things that gives our heart pleasure and joy. God gave us life to enjoy!


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

Thanks for all the wonderful heartfelt stories.

I had forgotten all about this thread and I am glad it didn't dwindle down to nothing. Thanks for the jolt.

Back when I started this thread in March-2012, I could not know that by Feb. of 2013, I would lose both of my parents. The attention that I had to give to my fig trees helped me through some very dark, days, and allowed me to focus on something other than my profound sadness. My father loved to look out and see the figs growing, and he especially loved to eat the ripe, soft fruit. He looked forward, every year, to these end-of-summer treats. I'd also bring ripe figs to my mom who was living in a nursing home. She remembered little, and sometimes didn't ever know who I was, but when I held out some big, golden-Atreanos, her eyes would light up. My figs made them happy, and now they're both gone.

My fig trees now provide me with comfort, solitude, and a connection to my departed parents. The present, is now linked to the past.

Frank

.


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

Bronxfig, sorry that I called you Frank. I don't know where I picked up the name. I totally understand about the sweet sentimentality that goes with linking our loved ones to garden treasures...I am also glad that you started this thread. I love to read it. I feel like you and all the others that write and show pics of their fig stories and situations are like family...This past August, I lost my only sister to health related complications. Just 2 years before, I went to all my siblings and asked them if they wanted to add a fruit tree to my garden with their names attached to it so that they could have their own tree to enjoy everytime that they visited me. I had 4 other siblings. They all said no except my sister. She gladly contributed money for a peach tree. I went to Lowes and bought her a Belle Of Georgia. Last year, she got to enjoy 2 of them because only 2 peaches from that tree survived a late freeze in our area. Now, I have decided to laminate a picture of sis and put some fun things about her on the tree so that everytime anyone goes to get a fruit from that tree, they will see her pic and read fun things about her...Yes, anything that grows perennially can, indeed, be a testamony to the connection we share with loved ones. God bless you Bronxfig because I know exactly how you feel. It bears repeating that I am glad that you started this thread.The people on this forum are clearly lovers and growers of figs and they are all special and beautiful. At some point in time, we will all leave legacies for others to enjoy the fruits of our labor for a lifetime.


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RE: Why I Love To Grow Figs

ahgrower...and forum members....

Many thanks for such kind, and, thoughtful words. I am very gratified to know that you, and others have enjoyed reading through this thread. When we all contribute our thoughts and feelings, the the end result is greater than the individual postings.

The bitter, sting of losing our loved ones is lessened when you can spend a happy, few minutes, visiting your favorite, or, their favorite tree.

What would we become without those things that give us comfort...whether it be a dog, a cat, hobbies, memorial trees, etc? We all hasten to a common goal. Take time out, and be peaceful.

Frank/BronxFigs


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