Saturday, March 24, 2012

end of season

So much of my life at the moment is working with paper. Recently, one of my grand-children  asked me why I'm growing white paper bags on my tree in our garden. It would be a great way to make paper without killing the tree. The bags are not an original idea but come from Japan and are one way of protecting fruit from birds and I think even help reduce fruit fly attack. This year I've had the most productive and delicious figs ever and as well as lots of lovely rain , I think the bags may have helped. Sadly, I have just plucked my last couple of figs and will need to prune the tree ready for the next crop.
 Here are some interesting things I learnt from the last Organic Gardener magazine.
My figs , like most in Australia, are self-fertile. The female flowers develop inside the fruit without being pollinated. These figs would not be so good to dry as they are don't have the seeds that give the dried figs that lovely nutty flavour.
The older style pollinated fig needs a special fig wasp to fertilise the female flowers (of Smyrna and San Pedro fig types) with pollen from the Capri fig. The wasp burrows into the Capri fig to lay its eggs and when they hatch, the male and female  wasps mate, then the female leaves the fruit to look for developing fruit to lay their eggs.
Growers of Smyrna and San Pedro figs collect the figs with wasps still inside and put them in baskets hanging in their trees. When the wasps leave they enter a new fruit through a pore at the end of the fruit fertilising the fig. However, only the flowers of the Capri fig are the right shape for the wasps to lay their eggs in, so they leave the fruit looking for a Capri fig. They eventually fertilise many more figs before they run out of pollen and find a Capri.
How special and complicated is that! I'm sure the Greek and Italian fig farmers who farm figs, must have some sort of festival or special day to mark the fig season. How else could they get all that right?


ronnie said...

oh goodness - and I thought it was tough finding the right partner in human world! (I'm pleased you gathered a good figgy crop - we planted a baby fig tree last winter but it will be a while before we can enjoy the fruits of our labour..... I think I'll have to take up your idea with the paper bags thought as birds treat our orchard as a smorgasbord!)

Jack Oudyn said...

thanks for commenting,you are a very active blogger, I see you comments everywhere. Re finding a right partner - have you tried sitting in a basket?

Ellen Paxton - Artist said...

That is fascinating Jack. Almost tempted to get a fig tree.