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A Sweet Harvest

September 28th, 2011

On Monday, I harvested my first fruit from my ‘Hardy Chicago’ fig tree. I’ve been keeping my eye on it for a while, watching and waiting for it to come ripe. Since I’ve never grown figs before, and my eating of them has been mostly reserved to the dried kind, I wasn’t exactly sure when it was ripe.

Somewhere, I read that once they start to droop and crack you know they’re ready to harvest. Mine was turning a beautiful shade of purple and was slightly soft, I figured it was time.

I took it inside and cut it open to reveal it’s beautiful jeweled interior. It was perfectly ripe. Mr Chiots and I each enjoyed half, the typical crunchy seeds reminiscent of the fig newtons I ate as a kid, but much less sweet and so much better. I think this may be the first ripe fig I’ve ever eaten, I cannot recall ever having one. There are still 4 or 5 figs on this tree, and a few on the fig tree I purchased at Monticello last summer. I hope these still ripen with the weather turning colder.

Figs are such a wonderfully exotic fruit, they remind me of many of the different fruits I ate during my childhood in Colombia, especially guava. I certainly miss the tropical flavors I became accustomed to during my youth, it can be tough to find a good mango, papaya, maracuya, or guava here in Ohio.

What’s your favorite fruit that’s not native to your area? Do you grow any exotics?

27 Comments to “A Sweet Harvest”
  1. daisy on September 28, 2011 at 5:57 am

    Wow, I never thought of having a fig tree. It looks so yummy, like candy.
    We try to grow natives here, some of which might be considered exotics in other parts of the country! Enjoy!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  2. kathi cookk on September 28, 2011 at 6:36 am

    I love blood oranges ever since we had them while traveling in Italy. I also thought about buying a fig tree but am never very good about bringing non hardy species of plants indoors once it gets cold. Does it go dormant inside for the winter?

    Reply to kathi cookk's comment

    • Susy on September 28, 2011 at 10:24 am

      Mine go dormant during the winter, they lose all their leaves and then start coming out again in February. Technically this hardy Chicago should overwinter outside here at Chiot’s Run. I’m going to get a start from this one to try overwintering before planting this plant outside.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Mich on September 28, 2011 at 7:15 am

    I have a ‘Brown Turkey’ fig tree ( i love the name ) which i grow outside here in the UK It lives in a huge tub near the house….but only as I couldnt make up my mind where to plant it! Its pretty tough as it got down past -15c here last winter.
    Obviously it needs plenty of water and feeding but it crops well; fresh figs are a real treat.
    And….I really will make up my mind soon about where to plant it! lol.

    Reply to Mich's comment

  4. Allison on September 28, 2011 at 8:05 am

    I don’t know that it is exotic or ‘not’ native, but we have 6 Quince trees in our apple orchard and when we purchased our property, they were new to us. As we embark on our journey to be apple farmers, we find more and more, that most people don’t know what Quince are!

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  5. goatpod2 on September 28, 2011 at 8:35 am

    We have some hybrid kiwi and some hybrid cranberries as well.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  6. Andrea Duke on September 28, 2011 at 8:41 am

    I love fig newtons! I rarely ever eat them. I’ve seen dried figs in the store, but fresh would be fantastic, I bet!

    Reply to Andrea Duke's comment

  7. Jeph on September 28, 2011 at 9:10 am

    I’m jealous! I just picked up one of these Chicago Hardy fig trees for like $8 at Lowes early this summer, and like you, I potted it up so it could be moved indoors over winter. Not long after getting it fruit appeared, and they’re still on the tree, and still very green. I’m not sure if they’ll be duds since this is it’s first year getting any real room for it’s roots to grow, etc? Who knows, maybe the fruits will ripen before we get hit with frost. How fast did yours go from green to brown?

    Love your site!

    Reply to Jeph's comment

    • Susy on September 28, 2011 at 10:26 am

      The fruit set earlier this summer, I can’t really remember how long it takes, I feel like forever – but a watched pot never boils! I think it was a few weeks or a month.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Melissa on September 28, 2011 at 9:10 am

    That made me chuckle to hear it described as exotic. They are as common as an apple or orange here in the South. However, I’m extremely jealous that you have figs right now– fig season is over here! And it was very short this year, the birds got most of the figs on my husband’s grandmother’s tree! We really need to get our own! They are one of my husband’s favorite fruits. I hadn’t tried them since my childhood until this year– they are amazing. Glad I tried them again since I didn’t care for them as a child. Love them now!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  9. Donna B. on September 28, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Fruit, in general, are exotic for me! I’m allergic to most fruit that you eat the skins… but I take the punishment and eat them anyway!

    I grew up eating Permissions and Asian Pears. I never knew until I started reading up on fruit tree’s that Permissions *are* native to the U.S.! So they’re not entirely exotic… hehe!
    I know when I start up a fruit tree area in my backyard, I will want to have Permissions, Asian Pears, and the elusive [on my list of need-to-eat] Pawpaw! [and Medlars… and Plums…]

    Reply to Donna B.'s comment

  10. kristin @ going country on September 28, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Citrus. Any kind of citrus. I was spoiled living in Hawaii with an enormous orange tree in or backyard and in Arizona where we had two tangerine trees. Someday I’ll have a small lemon tree in a pot inside. When I can find the window space . . .

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on September 28, 2011 at 10:27 am

      I’m a sucker for citrus as well, LOVE LOVE LOVE it – each year I order a few cases of a variety of citrus. I also got spoiled in Colombia with delicious oranges.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  11. MAYBELLINE on September 28, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Oranges or anything citrus.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  12. Daedre Craig on September 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I like mangoes and clementines, but I also like lots of fruits that can be grown in Michigan (peaches, nectarines, etc.).

    I’ve never had a fresh fig, looks yummy.

    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

  13. SixBalloons on September 28, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    My in laws are Mediterrean and have wonderful fig trees all over their backyard. They are at the prime of picking when the little circle on the base of the fruit starts to open up. Wait another day and the syrup starts dripping out, so have you to be fast!

    Reply to SixBalloons's comment

  14. iris on September 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    The first time I ate a fig, I was in Turkey. It was pure heaven…they taste nothing at all like dried figs. It’s really a shame I haven’t been able to find figs as tasty as the ones in Turkey since I left :(

    Reply to iris's comment

  15. Lee on September 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    I have quite a few tropicals: Chirimoya, papayas, guavas, mango and fig trees. They grow like weed over here in Southern California, and that’s the problem. Some of them have to be severely pruned every few years.

    Reply to Lee's comment

  16. Tommy on September 28, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    do you have to peel it, or just eat it as is?

    i just had a volunteer fig tree start growing this spring—probably dropped by the birds from a neighbor’s tree—I am excited, but it has yet to fruit.

    Reply to Tommy's comment

    • Susy on September 28, 2011 at 7:51 pm

      Nope just eat as is – I didn’t even rinse it!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  17. Traci Donat on September 28, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    I feel a little guilty commenting on this post as I live in coastal Southern California and can grow an abundance of fruit. Figs in particular do well in my climate. I have two black misson figs – delicious -and a white skinned fig I don’t know the name of, I planted it as a cutting I received in a trade about 14 years ago and it is now huge and just ready to have it’s first major harvest. I also just put in a panache fig, striped on the outside with an inside like jam. I’ll let you know how that goes.
    I also grow citrus – oranges, limes, lemons, tangarines and grapefruit, I had a blood orange but I lost it, I need to plant another. That is an amazing fruit.
    I also have many avacado, pomegranate, sapote, cherimoya, persimmon, apricot, apple, nectarine, guava, and plum.
    I just put in some experiments, a rose apple, which is an apple with the aroma of rose, I have high hopes for that one and some ollaberry canes. Berries are hard in my zone.
    I lose a lot of fruit to birds and squirrels and am experimenting with new techniques to combat that. My latest is the inflatable preditor eye they use in the fields. So far so good.
    Anyway, long answer to a simple question. Suzy, I love your blog, just found it recently when I was passing on some cinderella pumpkin seeds to a friend who had admired them in my garden. I googled the pumpkin to give her some back strory and came upon your post and have been a fan ever since.

    Reply to Traci Donat's comment

    • Susy on September 28, 2011 at 7:54 pm

      What a wonderful variety of fruit you can grow – sounds like Eden! Thanks for commenting and introducing yourself – great to hear you’re enjoying the blog!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  18. alison@thisbloominglife on September 28, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    We have a magnificent old fig tree with two crops a year. The second is always the better one. Wait until you’ve had them fresh with prosciutto or made some fig jam. yummy yummy

    Reply to alison@thisbloominglife's comment

    • Susy on September 28, 2011 at 7:52 pm

      Um, yes, I love prosciutto and I just found a local source for a good variety imported from Italy – should be tasty – will be buying some next week.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  19. z on September 28, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    I would love to hear more about your fig tree. I live in urban Washington DC (zone 7) and am considering a Hardy Chicago, Brown Turkey or Celeste for my yard. The front is full sun, which I’m afraid may be too harsh in the heat of summer, but the back is mostly shady and it would have to be in a container. Any thoughts?

    Reply to z's comment

    • Susy on September 29, 2011 at 6:08 am

      You might also be able to try Brunswick – which is the kind they grow at Monticello. I purchased one of these while we were visiting last summer. I’m going to try propagating this one as well, it’s a zone 7 though, so it most likely won’t make it through the winter like a Hardy Chicago is supposed to here.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  20. KimH on September 29, 2011 at 5:45 am

    I love love love fresh figs.. I too got spoiled growing up in the sub-tropics with fig trees all over the place. I plan to get a Chicago Hearty next year but didnt hear about it early enough this year. I never thought it could be possible to grow one outdoors here, but the pictures I’ve seen sure seem to support that.
    I buy a box or two of fresh figs every year but they rarely are as good as fresh from the tree.. yum.. Did I mention I love fresh figs?

    Nope, I dont grow any exotics. Fresh figs, American persimmons, and bananas are my favorite fruit not native to where I am. :D

    Reply to KimH's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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