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Fig Seedling?
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2005 6:57 pm    Post subject: Fig Seedling? Reply with quote

There was someone in Culver City, CA who said they would like to have Mission fig seedling if I found one. I just took one from my garden this morning.

So, if you're out there and you are willing to drive to Woodland Hills, you're more than welcome to the seedling I potted up for you.
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clotilde
Site Admin


Joined: 24 Sep 2004
Posts: 443
Location: Paris, France

PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 4:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How well do you think it would ship? Smile
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know, I used to be part of a group who sent weird mail to challenge the mail delivery services. I have successfully sent live plants from CA to NY. And unwrapped chocolate Easter bunnies within CA in June. But, a small (admittedly very small) tree internationally..... I'm not sure I'm the equal of les douaines. Shocked

Could you settle for a fig newton? Wink
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grackle



Joined: 07 Feb 2005
Posts: 6
Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 5:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rainey - Any advice you can give on growing figs? I am awaiting the arrival of two figs (once the weather warms up for real!) that I will be growing in containers. I am a total novice but am looking forward to the challenge -
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mine came from a volunteer so I never did a thing for it.

I remember a number of frustrating years when it would leaf out profusely but not fruit. I was about to take it down after 5 years thinking that it was sterile or something since it started out as a volunteer of no particular pedigree. Just in time, it started fruiting and it's supplied many times what I can eat ever since. I guess what that means is be prepared to be patient.

If I were doing something again, I'd read a bit about how to prune it to stay shorter. My tree is about 15' tall now and I'm all of 5'1 1/2" so I can only pick from the very lowest tier of branches. When the figs are ripe they're very soft so only hand picking will do. A ripe fig just squishes through a basket picker. Shocked Even on a ladder I can only get to the 2nd and 3rd tier of branches. Now it occurs to me that I might have recified that with pruning when it was about 4' tall.

I've read that some varieties of figs are problematical for pollenation. Did you know that a fig is an inside-out flower? There are varieties that need to be pollentated by very specific insects who can reach the ovary way inside that flower. These insects may or may not be available in your area. My Mission fig self-fertilizes but it requires a warm climate. I guess it will take a bit of research to find out which varieties do well in your area and which have the greatest likelihood of pollentation or which may need companion plants. Be sure to see how much cold the plants you're considering can take. You can only bring a tree inside for so many winters before you need to go looking for an vacant airplane hangar....

Have you checked in with your county extension agent's office? They will know what works in your climate which is about as different as you can get from SoCal.

Sorry I can't provide more helpful info but Dairy_Queen may know a lot more.
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cmschma



Joined: 18 Jan 2005
Posts: 13
Location: Culver City, CA & Atlanta, GA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 2:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rainey,

It was me! It was me!! I live in Culver City and I wrote a couple months ago that I would love my own fig tree!!

And yes, a trip to Woodland Hills is certainly within reason. As I am working ridiculously long hours right now, it is better for me to come out on the weekend.

I hope you still have it. Thank you for remembering.

Caryn
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Caryn- I still have it (them) and there is no hurry. ...especially as these are such tiny little things to drive through the Sepulveda pass to get. Wink

At your leisure. The important thing is that you got the message. Smile
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grackle



Joined: 07 Feb 2005
Posts: 6
Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA

PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2005 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Rainey!
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't want to steal any of your botanical 'thunder', Rainey, so I've been avoiding this thread, but since you invited my knowledge into the discussion, here goes. Wink

Each June in California's hot San Joaquin Valley a most remarkable biological phenomenon takes place. Traveling north of Fresno on Highway 99, thousands of acres of Calimyrna fig orchards are "decorated" with small brown or white paper bags. This unusual annual event results in the delicious nutty flavor of Calimyrna figs and the crunch in your fig newtons.

In a strict botanical sense fig "fruits" are actually inside-out flower clusters (inflorescences) called syconia. They are hollow, fleshy structures composed of modified stem (peduncular) tissue, lined on the inside with hundreds of minute flowers. At one end is a small opening (ostiole) lined with dense, overlapping scales. Calimyrna syconia contain only female flowers and must be pollinated in order to ripen. Each tiny flower consists of a five-parted calyx and an ovary with a long style. Following pollination and fertilization the ovaries develop into minute one-seeded drupelets with a hard inner layer (endocarp) surrounding the seed. The seed-bearing drupelets produce the superior nutty flavor and crunch. Without pollination Calimyrna syconia fail to ripen and drop from the branches.

Up until the late 1800s, Calimyrna growers in California were puzzled as to why their trees would not set fruit. It was finally discovered that they needed a tiny female wasp pollinator from Asia Minor (Blastophaga psenes) that lives inside the fruits of pollen-bearing wild figs (called caprifigs). Capri refers to goat and the inedible wild figs were apparently fed to livestock. The tiny wasps are only two millimeters long, small enough to pass through the "eye" of a sewing needle. Wasp-bearing caprifigs are now grown in California, and each summer they are placed in the little brown bags in Calimyrna orchards. This process, called caprification, is vital to the Calimyrna growers.

Here's a picture of the wee lady wasp, and I DO mean 'wee'!

By June the fig wasps living inside caprifig syconia are mature. At this time the male flowers inside are shedding copious pollen and the ostiolar scales are loose and passable. The gravid female fig wasp (already inseminated by a male) becomes dusted with pollen as she crawls out of the caprifig syconium. She flies to a Calimyrna branch where she instinctively forces her way through the ostiole of a receptive syconium. As she squeezes through the pore her wings often break off and protrude from the opening. In fact, this is how you can tell if a wasp has entered the unripe Calimyrna. Only in small receptive syconia can the female wasp enter the ostiole and push through the inner layer of closely overlapping scales. After this stage the ostiole is virtually impervious to insect entry. Inside she attempts to lay an egg inside the ovary of each female flower by inserting her ovipositor (egg-laying device) down the slender style. In Calimyrna figs this turns out to be a lesson in futility because the styles are all too long (much longer than her ovipositor). She withdraws her ovipositor and moves from one flower to another. In her desperate attempt to lay eggs she inadvertently pollinates the flowers. Eventually she dies from shear exhaustion, or old age, and is broken down by a protein-digesting enzyme (ficin) inside the fig. [In French Polynesia the ficin-rich sap from a native banyan fig is used to kill parasitic worms and to treat skin cancers.]

Female wasps lucky enough to live in a grove of wild caprifigs will be able to carry out their instinctive tasks. She can easily lay eggs inside the short-style flowers of caprifigs and perpetuate her offspring. Some of these may end up in Calimyrna groves the following summer. Lucky for us she can't lay eggs in Calimyrna figs--otherwise we might have a mouthful of fig wasps.

So, Rainey & grackle and others, I hope this little peep into the Wonderful World of Botany was informative and fun!
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grackle



Joined: 07 Feb 2005
Posts: 6
Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Dairy_Queen ... now just the long wait for spring!
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etwizard



Joined: 12 Mar 2005
Posts: 7
Location: Northern California

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 6:29 pm    Post subject: Figs Reply with quote

Figs are probably the easiest of all fruit trees to propagate. If you have a friend that has a fig tree that you like, ask him or her for a cutting in the WINTER. The tree needs to be Dormant, no leaves. Take your cutting, plant it in a pot with a planter mix, keep it damp and you'll find in a month or so, that you have a rooted cutting.
For those of you who want to keep your figs in a pot....its possible but challenging. Better get a dwarf variety. Figs are prolific growers and typically are not grafted onto a dwarfing rootstock, so you end up with a tree that is very large. Container figs will need daily care and watering in the summer, depending on where you are.
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No GMO foods! Eat an antique apple.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's very interesting! If I were to take a largish cutting do you think I could avoid the 4-5 year wait before the resulting tree was mature enough to fruit? How old/large is too mature to root?

If, on this new tree, I wanted to encourage wide, rather than tall, growth so I could reach the branches to pick, how and when would I prune the cutting?

You sound very knowledgible and I would really appreciate any expertise you have to share.

Can I just say that I've kept volunteer seedlings growing in pots for 2 years just by putting them in gallon containers in relative shade and within reach of the lawn irrigation. They took no effort at all and grew very nicely. They now reside in the ground in other gardens.

It may be a good match between growth habit and our SoCal climate but I find Mission figs to be really easy to grow.
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Dairy_Queen



Joined: 29 Jan 2005
Posts: 342
Location: Chicago and other places

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I'm not etwizard, but here's my experience:

1) ALL woody cuttings can ONLY be from the NEW WOOD, as it still has the ability to sprout "adventicious" roots or shoots from the new wood. That's because the tissue is still undiffentiated and has the ability to preform mulitiple functions, like stem cells in humans.

If you take a LARGE cutting, it won't "jump the future" into producing fruit any faster. By cutting into OLD WOOD, or wood that is from LAST year, you probably won't get any roots. Fruit trees, like humans, have to reach a sexual maturity age that releases hormones in the plant's tissue that allow it to fruit. It's like a tall child who is still sexually immature; they may look like an adult but until the hormones kick in, they can't propagate (get preggers!)

2) You ALWAYS prune fruit trees in their dormant time. Here, in Michigan, all the cherry, apple and grape farmers have been outside for the past month, doing all their pruning. The reason for this is simple: Imagine that a plant is a piggy bank. In summer, when it's growing, pennies (energy) are being spent as fast as they are being made (growth). However, in Winter or Dormant conditions, pennies (energy) all drain down to the root system, leaving the barest amount of energy left in the bare twigs to support life. The Botanical Piggy Bank now has an 80% surplus of Energy Pennies trapped in the root system, with 20% in the stems. The total, as you can figure out=100%. When you trim a shrub or tree, you are reducing the total amount of energy in the branches, resulting in a larger surplus of energy in the roots to the stems. When dormancy is broken, there is now a SURPLUS of energy flooding into the top growth, resulting in lush new growth.

Regarding pruning, when you look at a branch, buds will point in different directions. Ever hear the wisdom: "As the twig is bent, so grows the tree?" That's how trees are pruned. If you want a wide tree, remove branches that are "breaking" past the outline of the tree on top...those are called "leaders" and they contain hormones that supress growth laterally. By taking out the leaders, a different hormone is released and the lateral or side branches now obtain a hormone to grow. Ultimately, there will be branches that attempt to become the leader again; which is normal in life and botany. You simply prune them out, which causes the tree to be exhibit horizontal vs. vertical growth.

Hope this helps.
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grackle



Joined: 07 Feb 2005
Posts: 6
Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 12, 2005 10:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks everyone for all of the interesting facts and advice!
etwizard - any advice or recommendations for websites, etc. that promote the "antique apple"? I am trying to follow the path of eating heirloom and organic, but am having some trouble getting my friends and family to see the wisdom of this!
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sun Mar 13, 2005 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Bee-

I'll see if I can take a cutting later (my tree is leafing out now) and get one started for the future. My mature tree gives me great fruit but it's in an inconvenient spot so I hope to have a replacement ready to go when I finally have to take it down (if it doesn't go first).

One of the things that's so interesting about my Mission fig (maybe other figs too, I dunno) is that the figs emerge from the branches small but fully formed at the same time as the first leaves.
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