“With the present changes in climate my neighbors are joking that we might have to think of growing pineapples soon!” Mr. Yoshihiko Naitoh told me while driving me from Okitsu Station to his orchard up in the mountains.
I had called him te day before after my good friend Yasushi Imaizumi, a gastronome and real connoisseur, has introduced me to this great farmer.
He had gracefully agreed to pick me up as his farm is noteasy to find, but had warned me he had some work on the way.
Which suited me fine as it gave me the occasion to visit Okitsu JA Farmers Market where he delivered some of the morning’s crop.
Mr. Naitoh is a fourth generation farmer as far as tea and mikan/madarine oranges are concerned, but as for figs he is a first generation farmer and has grown them for 22 years.
The first that struck me in his orchard is that he uses almost no pesticides or herbicides as proved by the grasses growing freely between the rows of fig trees.
As for fertilizer he mainly uses pig’s manure from a neighboring farmer that he mixes with only a minimum of artificial fertilizer, mainly calcium and potassium.
This particular fig, in spite of its green/-yellow skin is ripe!
It is a “banané fig/バナネ無花果”, a French variety. Beautiful and succulent!
Mr. Naitoh grows three types of figs which don’t need any help for pollination: Banané Fig/バナネ無花果, Common Fig/普通無花果, and
and Violet Figs/ヴィオレ無花果, another French variety which turns to a striking black/purple color when ripe!
One cannot replant a fig tree in the same spot from where another fig tree has been rooted out. Mr. Naitoh therefore keeps experimenting even using discarded polysterene boxes!
Mr. Naitoh also grows fig trees in pots to sell to homes and gardeners!
I wouldn’t mind one of those on my balcony!
For a closer look!
Taking care of a fig tree is not so difficult. Don’t forget to cut the fruit-bearing branches at their base in winter. Don’t worry they will grow fast again and produce two crops in July and Ocotober in warm conditions!
As Mr. Naitoh uses no pesticides, in the afternoon he turns hunter and kill the little critters by hand!
Mr. Naitoh is not only a grower but a fine chef!
I bought this succulent-looking fig compote!
I also got his fig jam!
These figs will be delivered as far as Chiba Prefecture on the other side of Tokyo!
Apart of oranges and tea on pieces of land dispersed in the mountains, Mr. Naitoh also cultivates Roselle/ロセル, a variety of hibiscus.
Now, why is he growing flowers in the middle of his orchards?
The flowers are picked before they open at all.
The core will be discarded and only the red sepal will be kept to be turned into jam!
I got a full bag of them and made my own jam, reminiscent of acid pomegranates. Absolutely beautiful (in taste as well as in looks!)!
Mr. Naitoh accepts private orders of his three types of figs, fig compote, fig jam, roselle, so do not hesitate to call him!
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