Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Chicago Hardy Figs
I plant tomatoes because I like tomatoes, and what better way to eat tomatoes than fresh off the vine?
Not that the past few seasons nature has yielded that many tomatoes, at least not to me. But that's another matter.
I've been doing better with lettuce. Butter lettuce. It grows and grows, tastes delicious, and has probably saved me hundreds of dollars eating better, cheaper lettuce than I could buy at a store.
But figs? I'll be honest: pure chauvinism. Civic pride. I saw the listing of "Chicago Hardy Fig" in the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds catalogue and felt obligated to give them a try. Because they're Chicago figs. And they're hardy—I suppose if they were "Chicago Fragile Figs" I would have passed. But "hardy" seems a word designed to both describe and appeal to Chicagoans. A hardy lot, in our own estimation. At least something to strive for.
Besides. Who doesn't love figs? Particularly we kids raised on the venerable Fig Newton (named for the town in Massachusetts, not the inventor of the calculus). I think of them as part of the triumvirate of classic cookies—the Oreo, the Lorna Donne, the Fig Newton. Not as successful as the Oreo, which is everywhere, with its odd and compelling flavors. Not as obscure as the Lorna Doone, who never amounted to much and now lurks in her attic room. The middle, semi-successful child.
This pair of plantings arrived over the weekend in good shape, and took to their new potted homes with none of the fallen leaves the instructions warned might come with the shock of transplant. Hardy indeed. We were also advised to plant them in a location safe from "harsh winter winds"—they're supposed to be good in Chicago, right? Is there anywhere safe? Even the winds of May have been pretty flippin' harsh. You've got to be hardy.