Time to Tuck in Your Fig Trees
June 12, 2014 7:19 PM   Subscribe

The Italian Garden Project Old world gardening know-how, traditions, recipes, memories and more... The mission of The Italian Garden Projectâ„¢ is to celebrate the joy and wisdom inherent in the traditional Italian American vegetable garden, preserving this heritage and demonstrating its relevance for reconnecting to our food, our families, and the earth. For several years Mary Menniti has been documenting through video and oral history how her some of her first generation Italian immigrant neighbors have adapted traditional Old World gardening techniques and plants to Western Pennsylvania's less forgiving climates. One the gardens has even been included in the Smithsonian's Archive of American Gardens.
posted by DarthDuckie (11 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite

It always gets me that since tomatoes are a New World crop, they'd have been entirely absent from Italian agriculture and cuisine up until a few hundred years ago, but now they're emblematic of Italian food culture. For every culinary tradition you associate with a particular region today, there are probably an entire rainbow of completely different and distinctive cuisines corresponding to the same location stretching back through time.
posted by XMLicious at 7:32 PM on June 12, 2014 [5 favorites]

Mr. Roquette got me into gardening. It's nice having lettuce which doesn't make me ill, and fresh tomatoes, and fresh herbs and garlic and onions. We really enjoy the garden.
It helps us save money.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:57 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

My grandmother always had a garden and a yard full of fruit trees. My parents have planted tomatoes and a few other things each year. I love gardening, canning and cooking. There is something very satisfying about eating and cooking the food you've grown yourself. I love living in San Francisco but I think about living in Texas when I'm older where my father has land, so I can have a gigantic garden, some chickens and goats or sheep.
posted by shoesietart at 10:57 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

I live on Vancouver Island and have only owned a house with land in the last 2.5 years. This year I'm landscaping and planting, including building planter boxes. Planted fruit trees, a fig, herb garden, vegetable garden, blueberries, raspberries, and such. I'm glad I don't live in a cold enough climate that my fig requires tucking! I know I won't be feeding my family more than marginally with the food we produce, but just yesterday we had a salad made of lettuce that we'd grown, and it was immensely satisfying.

A friend and co-worker of mine is Maltese - his parents are retired and live in the Fraser Valley east of Vancouver, where they have a large garden. They're masters, and this blog reminds me of them. As such, I just do whatever my buddy says as he's been brought up listening to them.

"DON'T DO ANYTHING TO YOUR FIG". As such, I don't!
posted by jimmythefish at 12:05 AM on June 13, 2014

So timely! I live in Queens and just this week I noticed that my elderly Italian neighbor's huge (for NYC) fig trees didn't make it through the winter.
posted by Drab_Parts at 3:25 AM on June 13, 2014

Nice post, thanks. Now if my town ever gets that community garden, maybe I can put some of this knowledge into practice for myself!
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:09 AM on June 13, 2014

I thought I'd lost both my fig and a 8 ft high sweet bay that grew from a tiny little herb pot (Washington DC here). But just within the last two weeks both have put out healthy shoots from the roots! Made me totally happy....
posted by Cocodrillo at 6:39 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I read this title wrong on three separate occasions.

I kind of want a fig to join our young apple trees. Not this year though.
posted by Foosnark at 7:34 AM on June 13, 2014

Several years ago, I found this 1905 photo of an Italian immigrant to Washington, Amato Tassa, and his 25' fig tree.

The article describes fresh figs as a rare treat in D.C, but there are now fig trees all over the city - five within walking distance of my house alone. We are regularly given fresh figs by a neighbor, and I think of Tassa and his generation of Italian immigrants to D.C. every summer.

I noticed that my elderly Italian neighbor's huge (for NYC) fig trees didn't make it through the winter.

Give them a little more time, Drab_Parts - the 20+ year old one in our neighbor's yard just leafed out, almost a month later than usual. Last winter was unusually hard on them, but they're tougher than they're often made out to be.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:14 AM on June 13, 2014

We finally hacked down our fig tree last week, having realized that it hadn't survived the cold winter. (It was only last summer that it finally produced figs!) It was truly dead, from the ground up. But little shoots are coming up from the base, so maybe we'll have figs again in a few years.
posted by waldo at 7:47 PM on June 14, 2014

Love this. First thing I did upon moving to our home was plant a garden. I've made many mistakes over the years, killed so many things, but I'm pretty skilled now and thanks to the southern California climate, I already have a huge crop of tomatoes, artichokes, cucumbers, and peppers this year. Looking forward to watermelon, squash and eggplant soon. Yum!
posted by Sophie1 at 9:36 PM on June 14, 2014

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