Figs. In Bags.

Fig in a BagTwo years ago, my infant fig tree was frozen down to the ground. “That’s it,” I thought, “I’m destined to not grow figs.” The next summer, it poked a few branches skyward, and I realized I had a reprieve. Last summer, the tree not only grew to 8 feet or higher, it was covered in hundreds of tiny green figs. “Hooray! Figs!” I figured I was only weeks away from breaking out the blue cheese and honey for my favorite fig dish. Weeks turned into months, and guess how many figs I picked? Yep. Zero. Not a single fig ripened last year.

This is year three for my fig. It’s at least 12 feet tall. It’s covered in not hundreds, but probably thousands of tiny green figs. A couple of months ago, in desperation, I invited a friend from Morocco over to take a look at the tree. “It’s still young yet,” she said. “Keep watering it. It’ll be great in another year or two.” OK. I guess. I’m a bad combination for a gardener: lazy and impatient.

And? Beset by both birds and bugs.

Which made me think: what if those figs weren’t ripening because they were being eaten before they had a chance? All of them? It seems so unlikely. But worth a shot.

So I ransacked my daughter’s craft supplies and pulled out all the remaining organza favor bags. It turns out that they are exactly the right size to slip over an unripe baby fig. I stuck them on and forgot about them. Until a few weeks ago, when I was watering the fig, and found one on the ground underneath the tree. In it? A perfectly ripened, gift-wrapped fig. I crawled into the dense branches, looking for more. I pulled off at least a dozen ripe figs, so ripe that they nearly fell off in my hands.

I know it’s a cliche, but those figs? Were the best I’ve ever had, whether from the grocery store or the farmer’s market. I’ve never been fond of raw, ripe figs, but now I realize it’s because the ones I’ve had were picked just slightly before they were ripe.

So I ordered more organza bags. I will, by golly, make some fig jam this year. If I don’t eat them all first.

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