Fig Watch 2011

I love figs.  I mean really love them.  Fresh, dried, made into jam, pressed into a cake with nuts and served with cheese, grilled and drizzled with balsamic syrup and blue cheese, in a cookie….you name it, if it has fig in it I will eat it no questions asked!  So when I moved to SC and there were fig trees everywhere I was ecstatic at the prospect of growing my own which was impossible in Northwestern CT where I lived previously.  A friend and I stopped and asked someone with two giant fig trees in their front yard how to grow them and he promptly cut off some 1-2′ branches and gave them to us.  His advice was to cut where there is a joint, put it in water for a week and then plant the stick in the ground at the joint.  That simple.  “This will never work” was my first thought but we both decided to go home and give it a try.  I put them in a jar of water and left them in the shade for a week and then planted both sticks in a pot filled with annuals on my patio and went back to CT for the summer for some stonework jobs we had lined up.  My in-laws were coming by a couple times a week to water my pots so they did get consistently watered all summer. We came back in September, 4 months later and I’d pretty much forgotten about them.  Imagine my delight when I saw that they had not only survived by one of the branches had an actual ripe fig on it!  I ate it blissfully, still warm from the sun and was hooked!  (BTW my friend’s cuttings also survived.)  This spring I left one branch in the pot and put the smaller one in the ground in a nursery bed that I have going for all my seedlings and cuttings.  The one in the pot is alive and growing but at half the speed of the one in the ground. The one in the ground has tripled in size and has the one fig you see in the photo above on it.  I check on it daily and guard it jealously from birds, pests, squirrels and the occasional rabbit.  Nobody better mess with my fig!  I remain hopeful that next summer I may actually get, dare I hope, TWO figs?  Odds are it will be more than that and meanwhile a neighbor has a bumper crop this year and has offered me all the figs I can carry which I will accept gratefully and after eating as many fresh as I can stand, I will “put up” the rest in a yummy fig jam that goes great with meats and cheeses!  Stay tuned for that post.  Moral of the story–you CAN start your own fruit bearing trees and other decorative shrubs and even roses from cuttings and you SHOULD because it’s easy, free, and fun!  Here’s a link to some info at Mother Earth News on how to propagate from cuttings and other methods–includes a cool tip on adding willow bark to your cutting water because of the hormones that help your plants root!  Who knew? Easy Plant Propagation-Mother Earth News  Enjoy and happy planting!

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