|Brown Turkey Fig Tree|
Despite their association with Moorish gardens in the Middle East, and other sultry environments, figs can flourish as far north as USDA Zone-5, with winter protection. Gardeners in regions where temperatures drop below 10°F wrap trunks and vulnerable branches in microfoam sheeting (the same material packagers use to protect breakable goods during shipment); a “coat” of burlap placed on top of the foam keeps the tree from heating up too much when sun hits the insulation. Other techniques for protecting figs in winter include severe pruning followed by a heavy blanket of mulch, or burial (after digging a trench adjacent to the tree, loosen the root ball, then lay the tree on its side inside the trench).
|“A fig for a care, a fig for a woe!” |
–John Heywood (1497-1580)
Unlike peaches and pears, figs do not continue to ripen if harvested prematurely. This is why figs purchased at a supermarket never taste as good as fresh-picked ones. Low-acid figs are naturally high in vitamins A and C and offer a rich source of calcium and iron. Often, the only problem confronting cooks during harvest is an overabundance of fruit. The solution: dry the figs in the sun and then enjoy them throughout the coming months. Or, transform the excess into jam or chutney. Even the plants leaves can be put to use as “doilies” to decorate cheese or fruit platters. Based on such abundance, it’s no wonder figs make great gifts.
Secure in the knowledge that my gardens are now considered to be in the Zone 6a growing area, due to the updated USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, I believe I will include a ‘Brown Turkey’ Fig Tree in my planting plan this spring.
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