Figs Happen


You can stand around complaining that the squirrels got every single peach, that the rats got every grape, that there’s not enough time to weed, that the garden looks like crap. Then bam, figs happen. Lots of figs. So many figs that you start having to think about fig jams, fig compotes and figs with cheese and honey. But you’re also lazy so most of the figs get eaten somewhere between the tree and the front door. You promise figs to friends and neighbors but somehow that never happens.

If you’re the score keeping type let it be known that we’re talking about a Mission fig tree we planted around 2009 in our front yard.

How’s your garden doing this summer? Where do you live and what are you growing?


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  1. My fig tree, also planted around 2008 or 2009 is COVERED in figs, but they are not quite ripe! The 400 mile difference between LA and Oakland must delay it a tad. Agreed. We estimate that every year our crop has doubled, from a starting point of like four figs in the first year, we now have a BIG crop! Last year we ate a ton, and made fig jam, and gave some away!

  2. We live in Powell River BC, which is about 900 miles north of Oakland, and we have just finished eating our first huge crop of figs. The trees are now absolutely covered with the second crop, which may or may not have time to ripen. I guess a lot depends on the type of fig (one Brown Turkey and one mystery green fig) and the local micro-climate, which is probably around Zone 9 here.

    As noted, all good resolutions about make fig jam, fig chutney and other fig preserves completely disappeared. We got as far as fresh figs with vanilla ice cream, although we did try dehydrating some which was a miserable failure. We probably over-dried them.

    Our trees seem totally immune to pests and, as long as provided with a little water regularly, grow furiously. In fact, that is the only problem and we are going to have to prune them fairly viciously soon or be faced with trying to pick figs that are thirty feet up.

    • The person who gave me figs did climb a 20 ft ladder to pick figs for me and his relatives. He finally decided he should not be on a ladder and cut the tree down. Sadly, I have had no figs in several years. The birds never got his and he never knew why.

  3. You guys don’t have birds?

    Every year I watch my figs grow bigger and bigger and slowly ripen. Every year I start salivating and think this may be the year. But every year the birds come to my Woodland Hills (LA) tree and peck one side of each fig before they become fully ripe.

    It makes me insane!

    Woo hoo to you in Powell River, Peter! I’ve been lucky enough to live in West Vancouver a few times in my life and I LOVE BC and the Canadian communitarian spirit!

    • Thanks Rainey. Yes birds could be a problem, but we have a two part solution:

      (1) Lots of glittery, silvery strips that we hang all over the trees.

      (2) A 19-year old cat that sits on the deck and leers at any bird that dares to approach. She is confined to the deck and cannot actually catch a bird but the birds – being bird-brained – haven’t figured that out.

      Each night about a million starlings roost in a cedar tree just down the road, but we haven’t had a bird strike on a fig – yet!

  4. I’m in central Louisiana, about one degree latitude further south than San Diego and a whole lot wetter. Our figs have come and gone, about four weeks now. I can’t tell you the variety; the tree was here when moved in forty years ago. It’s now taller than the house and loaded with fruit every year – plenty to share with the birds and swarms of bugs. August is a slow month around here – summer crops are dead, winter ones are just planted – but thing that I’ve found that thrives in the heat and humidity is loofa. It’s tough and vigorous and will take over given a chance. Pick the fruit when it’s about the size of a pickle cucumber and you can eat them! Cook them like zucchini or okra, with a similar flavor. Let them get big and dry out on the vine if you want try for a sponge. Just be sure to get all the seeds; it WILL try to take over

  5. We’re in southern Ontario (Canada), at the southwest tip of Lake Ontario. This summer we’re growing: tomatoes (cherry and an heirloom variety that is like a Roma, but the name of which escapes me); green, yellow and orange bell peppers; yellow bush beans; radishes; cucumbers; raspberries; strawberries; blueberries; black currants; mulberries; mint; grapes (two varieties); rosemary, oregano and basil. We have had a lot of rain this spring and summer, so everything is growing well. We are renting a beehive this year, so lots of happy pollinators are present!
    Oh, we’re also “growing” tobacco/tomato hornworms ( on the tomatoes! We just discovered these–and the damage they have caused–yesterday, and so far have pulled eight of the monsters (as long and fat as an index finger!) off our plants; I’m sure there are more lurking. Anyone know if they are edible? (I’m semi-serious; it looks like there’d be a lot of protein there!) Or perhaps they’d be toxic from all the green tomato (nightshade) foliage they ingest?

  6. a ripe fig picked on a warm day …. paradise! was driving through the sacramento delta, along the river last weekend and stopped for a walk on public land along a levee. suddenly there was one fig tree, then another, they were everywhere! I filled my pockets. Lovely dark purple figs, just growing wild from some long abandoned orchard…what a treat! Plus, a gorgeous relaxing drive along 2 lane roads. What else could a person wish for?

  7. Got a tree in Silverlake only a couple of years old but already too tall to prune despite tying the branches in knots together as a sapling! I’m now in Pasadena with another huge old tree next to my front door daily dropping perfect dark & delicious figs that usually break when they hit the ground inviting bugs, dirt and other things you don’t want to put in your mouth. I could do a better job of harvesting off the tree, but already I have excessive bowls full in the fridge. I suppose one can dehydrate them so that they can be smaller & maybe storeable without drawing insects, but I too am curios for a solution as to what to do with all these really good things. Amazing as they are off the tree, I never want more than 1 or 2. Fig Newtons? Granola bars? What do I do with them to justify preserving these delicious things of which I only like a few at a time

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