For many of us who grew up with immigrant parents from Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, we always had figs around the house. Most Americans are familiar with Fig Newtons or dried figs at the market around the holidays. But few were lucky enough to have fresh figs from the backyard every summer.

My grandparents had a fig tree in their tiny backyard in South Philadelphia. The plots behind those row-homes were tight with an alley separating them from the block behind their house.

In the summer if you were brave (or stupid) enough to walk down those alleyways you would see the leaves from all of the fig trees spilling over the wooden fences. If you were quick and sneaky enough you could pluck a few from the branches hanging over.

When we finally moved over to South Jersey, my dad planted about ten fig trees surrounding the back porch of our Delran home. Growing up I remember not being too fond of this "exotic" fruit that no one else in my new neighborhood had ever heard of.

Adobe Express
Adobe Express

As an adult, I came to appreciate this rare delicacy in New Jersey. Our climate is not ideal for these trees and my dad took great pains every fall to trim them and cover them.

The trees were not used to our harsh winters, so it took a lot of work to protect them.

Enter Bill Muzychko, a retired state engineer who has been growing fig trees in pots for years at his Hunterdon County property.

He's devised a system that allows the trees to grow in large pots, so they can be stored in a garage in winter. He gives classes on how to do it and the best varieties to plant here. If you have any questions on how to grow figs here, Bill's your man.

He is a rare resource indeed. So if you ever thought you'd like to grow them but didn't think you could, see Bill.

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