Figs and finances

by The Darwinian Doctor

One positive side effect of the pandemic has been more weekend time devoted to growing my fig trees.  Here’s an update on the new additions to my orchard, and also the parallels I see between the figs and my investments.  

I love gardening.  While I love all things green, I have a special fondness for fruit producing trees. To me, they’re just like well crafted financial instruments.  With regular deposits of water and sunlight, a good fruit tree will yield delicious fruit year after year.  

Once a year, overgrown and unhealthy branches can be pruned away to improve the tree’s overall health.  And established, healthy branches can be taken from the main tree and rooted in soil. After time, this cutting can grow into a productive tree of its own.

The fig tree obsession

Longtime readers may be familiar with my unusual obsession with fig trees.  One of the big selling points of my home was the existence of an old, gnarly fig tree that I long ago dubbed the “jelly fig tree.”  This ugly tree yields a singularly delicious fig fruit that’s pale green on the outside with an intensely sweet, jelly like interior.  I’ve never tasted a fig like it before in my life.

Sliced Jelly fig

I worry that the tree’s on its last legs, so a couple years ago I took some cuttings and rooted them to make two new fig saplings.

These cuttings have done really well and are now planted next to their mother tree in what I now call “fig tree alley.”  A couple of elephant ear fig tree saplings also reside in the alley.

Fig Tree Alley: 5 fig trees

In recent months, my fig tree collection has grown even more.

New Orleans figs

Earlier in the winter, I approached a neighbor who has a beautiful fig tree in her backyard, visible from the street.  After learning that this tree was brought over as a cutting from their ancestral home in New Orleans, she let me take a nice branch home.

I divided this into two cuttings and planted them, and they’re thriving.

New Orleans figs. Reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Mystery figs

Next, I noticed a fig tree growing out of a pine tree on a neighborhood sidewalk.  I saw their gardener indiscriminately chopping off branches of this fig tree over time.  So in a fit of horticultural rage, I snuck by the property under the cover of night and pruned off a few choice cuttings to add to my collection.  And not a moment too soon.  Just a week later, the entire tree had been cut away by their gardener.

These cuttings I’ve labeled “mystery,” as I have no idea what’s going to come out of them once they’ve matured.  

One of my “mystery fig” cuttings. I need more pots.

More Jelly Figs

Finally, given how amazing the Jelly figs are, I decided to get started on the next generation of saplings.  I took two more cuttings from the tree and prepped the bottoms with rooting hormone.  After about 4 weeks of invisible root growth, buds and leaves are already sprouting!

Here’s a picture of them mixed alongside some more saplings.

Figs and finances

I see my existing fruit and fig trees as the horticultural equivalents of diversified index funds.  I wrote about my basic investment portfolio previously, and these same index funds are still the bedrock of my portfolio.  

Though they’re going through the winter of a bear market currently, I fully expect my stocks to recover and grow when COVID-19 is controlled by a combination of social isolation, a vaccine and widespread testing. 

I see my alternative investments as the financial equivalent of the fig tree cuttings.  

Take my rental properties, for example.  When I divert cash from my index funds and transplant them into a rental house, I don’t see it as a static investment.  With each downpayment, I’m hoping that the investment will stabilize, mature, and yield returns that will then form the basis for another rental property purchase.  Each new rental property is a living organism that will grow and help generate more seed capital to continue to grow my rental empire.

Over the long run, I hope that these alternative investments will compound even better than stocks.


I hope you enjoyed this update.  Despite the pandemic, I still hope that by 2025, my investments will multiply just like the my fig trees and provide enough “fruit” to give me a good measure of financial freedom and security.

I’m watching the investment landscape carefully while it suffers under the influence of COVID-19, and I’ve come to a few conclusions that I plan to share soon.

Are you doing some pandemic gardening also? What parallels do you see in your hobbies to your investments? Please share, comment, and subscribe!

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4 years ago

We have 2 figs, a Chicago and a brown turkey. I’m over the snow line so they sit dormant in my garage in winter. Literally just sat them outside for spring yesterday. Out trees are three years old.

Someday I’ll take cuttings to plant more permanent ones in the yard. The versions we have are more cold resistant.

tree trimming Capalaba
tree trimming Capalaba
4 months ago

I’ve been thinking about hiring a landscaping service lately, and it’s incredible how a well-designed outdoor space can transform the entire vibe of your home.

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