Finally, Figs!

by Melody Kettle

I waited patiently for many months, and finally the day has come: the figs are ready for picking! 

This is the first time I will be picking figs from these trees - well, sort of. I consider these to be heirloom figs. 

I'll explain: When my great-grandfather, Angelo "Charlie" Dalessio, came over from Italy he brought a fig tree with him.  Maybe it was a shoot, but this is how the story goes. 

When he arrived, he planted that tree in in Brooklyn.  There, it grew, flourished, and fruited for many years.  When the time came to move the family from Brooklyn to New Jersey, the tree moved too. To this day, the Black Mission fig tree still grows on the south side of the brick house my great-grandfather built, fruiting like mad, having never been pruned or covered for winter.

I grew up in the house next door to the fig tree.  When I moved to fair Montclair, I took a shoot of the fig tree with me.  I planted it in a pot and it died.  I took another shoot the next year, that one died, and this continued for several years. 

But finally, two years ago, I took two shoots, and planted both next to the foundation on the south side of the house.  I didn't cover them, and in the spring they came back and grew, but didn't fruit.  I let them go through the winter, again uncovered, and this past spring, they came back, grew some more and finally fruited.  Now, the figs are ripe and ready for picking. 

In a certain way, these figs have been picked for years by various members of my family: aunts, uncles, cousins, my mother and grandmother, and now my children. Ergo, Heirloom Figs! That's the story and I'm sticking to it!