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swirl and savor

The Fig Report, Week 9

Beth Ribblett

Just as we have all been hiding under the covers for the last month, not wanting to venture out into the cold, gray days of winter, the little fig cutting has been in hibernation mode. The short days and cool temperatures have made for slow growing but this week we started to see a change as a new leaf is breaking through. Hopefully, in anticipation of the warmer weather scheduled to arrive this week, it has decided it will be safe to come and show its new growth!

My fascination with this little cutting has led me to research the history of figs and I found out it is possibly the most ancient of domesticated plants. The latest archaeological evidence has determined that figs were propagated as early as 11,400 years ago, predating the domestication of cereal grains and legumes by about 1,000 years. At the Gilgal site, in the Jordan Valley near Jericho, they found dried, half eaten figs from trees that could only have survived with the help of human hands. See there is a type of genetic mutation in some species of fig trees that allows them to produce without pollination and the help of the fig wasp. However, the only way these trees can propagate is by taking shoots and planting them in the ground to grow more trees. The fruit found at the Gilgal site was of this mutant variety indicating the earliest origins of fruit orchards.

So I found it pretty cool know that I'm doing what was done thousands of years ago, putting a stick in some dirt and hoping it will grow! So far it seems as if they knew what they were doing!

For the story of how our Sicilian fig cutting came to America, click here: For the Love of Figs