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Israeli-7 (FoE Fig Finds)

Shaft

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Israeli-7​

A FIG WITH AN ILLICIT STORY​

This fig was originally acquired by my stepfather's friend over 40 years ago. He was travelling to Israel and stumbled upon this fig tree, and loved this fig so much, the best he had ever had, that he broke customs law to bring it back. Now, bear in mind, this is not just any man choosing to do a little bit of mischief. No, this was a pastor, on a missionary trip to the Holy Land, sneaking a single cutting in his coat pocket on an international flight. Around 25 years ago, my stepfather was given a cutting of this tree and we eat from it to this day.

This fig was never identified by the pastor, what variety it is, or anything along those lines. You could consider this an unknown variety because "Israeli 7" is simply a name I gave to it to identify it in contrast to other figs I own. Most of Israel is infected with root knot nematodes (RKN). It is quite prevalent in their soils. You cannot get RKN from a cutting, but it should be noted that this tree is heavily RKN-resistant like most wild figs from Israel. This tree shows no signs of wilting, yellowing, lessened harvest, or stunted growth due to RKN, and RKN is most certainly present.

FIG FLAVOR AND CHARACTERISTICS​

The Israeli 7 fig tree produces a prolific crop of medium-sized, bronze-colored figs. The flavor varies depending on the rain: if clear weather prevails, it has a sour, tropical flavor with hints of berry. A sweet aftertaste. If the rain comes as it so often does in my climate then it washes away all of the sour berry leaving you with just a really good flavored honey fig. The texture is far more syruppy than jammy, though there is some of that texture too. The skin is of moderate thickness, just shy of "biting into a baked good" like the Col de Dames. Drips honey from the eye on drier days, does moderately well in humid climates but is severely drought-resistant. This fig also appears to be resistant to root knot nematodes, like most wild figs from the Holy Land. (Israel's sandy soil is eaten up by root knot nematodes).

This is a great fig to eat fresh but I particularly enjoy it dried. It does tend to have a limited amount of splitting in humid climates. The eye remains tight throughout the year. It is a common type fig that produces a very minor breba crop, if at all. The main crop is quite prolific. Pollination by the fig wasp is not required. This fig is quite reliable, producing a sizable crop every year once mature.

WHO AM I?​

I am Shaft on OurFigs & The Fig Spot.

My name is Malcolm Heath. In February of 2020, I became a father to Ronin. This was just before the COVID situation really struck, right before grocery store shelves went empty. We came home from the hospital after an extended NICU stay, and were basically unprepared for the chaos in the world around us. It was like we were sheltered in the hospital from everything that was going on, and the system had ceased to function. I went to buy my family food, and there was nothing on the shelves. No meat to be had. I'm a chef, so my job is to come up with some unique creations, but this taxed even my skill. I never wanted to be in this position again. I felt like a failure, and I had barely been a dad for a week. I vowed to never let this happen again.

I started a garden. We have 14 acres of land outside of Greenville, NC. I knew nothing about gardening. Literally, nothing. My land is hard-packed clay. Very highly acidic, does not drain well at all. We are, in other words, a swamp. I made every mistake possible, with the intent of making as many mistakes as I could as fast as possible. I learned what worked, and what didn't. I got a few crops in the ground, most failed. Zucchinis did well, cucumbers kind of did, watermelons not so much (weeds got them). Butternut squash was probably my best harvest. We tried a hugelkultur bed. We did all kinds of stuff, the types of stuff someone who doesn't know what they're doing does when they look on the internet for help.

My stepdad reminded me that July, seeing me get so interested in growing my own food, that we had a fig tree. I loved fig as a kid, but I'd only eaten from this tree once. I just didn't spend a lot of time outside. I was a computer nerd. I forgot about it for most of my life. I got a massively abundant harvest of some of the best figs I could imagine. I shared them with everyone. I dried a bunch with the dehydrator my stepdad gave me. I was in love. This particular tree was given to my stepdad when I was 5 years old, in 1996, and he planted it immediately. This was a rooted cutting grown into a plant from the mother tree, which was itself a cutting from a tree in Israel that my stepdad's friend, a preacher, had smuggled through customs from Israel. He thought the fig was so good he risked jail time to get it here.

I went fig crazy.

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