Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fig Cutting Variety Codes - decipher your stems!

Okay, just a quickie post here.
For those of you who are now opening packages of fig cuttings.....
and the labels are history, jostled to the bottom of the package?

Look on the stems of the cuttings and you will see little abbreviated "codes" on the stems.  We learned this trick years ago when we had to keep hundreds of cuttings straight.  

from (great blog name!)
Rule:  Never rely on labels.

Here are the codes (on the stems) you might find in your package, depending on what you requested or (if you said to "just send an assortment", on what we picked out for you):
  • CEL = Celeste
  • AL or ALM = Alma Gold
  • VB = Violette (Violette de Bourdeaux)
  • BAT = Battaglia Green
  • SP = San Piero
  • CH = Chicago Hardy
  • BC = Blue Celeste
  • PAN = Panache
  • IGH = Italian Golden Honey

Now that your figs are safely with you and being potted up (or bagged up, depending on which method from the How to Propagate Figs webpage (tab above) you chose), you can add your own lovely labels!

** Remember, descriptions and photos of the figs are on my earlier post, which you might want to bookmark for later reference!

Leap Year Day and Fig Cuttings are In The Mail!

Rob balancing packages of fig cuttings!
Well, this is it!

Actually, this is less than HALF of it - but this is one pile of fig cutting packages being carried out to the Jeep en route to the Post Office. The cuttings are now ALL on their way to you....traveling anywhere from around the corner to across the nation! 

The cuttings have all been waxed on the cut ends and they are still fully dormant, so they should withstand any travel woes, like freezing postal trucks and such.

If your lovely, carefully printed little tag labels have fallen off, as some seemed predicted to do, look carefully at the stems and you'll see our shorthand code for the varieties.  I'll post the varieties in their own little post to help solve the mystery.

And, folks, thank you again.  I can't tell you how generous and kind you have all been.  These cuttings have been blessed on their way to you and I hope they grow beautifully and bring you years of joy.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fig Cuttings Almost Ready to Go!

The cuttings for all my San Mar bike ride supporters are taken, sorted, labelled and ready to be packed for mailing!  We can't wait! Since the labels didn't seem to be holding reliably, my ever-reliable hubby sat and printed the ID codes on every stem.  <love, love>

This is a perfect time of year for cuttings - transport is easy while they are solidly dormant and they'll be arriving in great time to be rooted and ready for transplanting when warm spring weather arrives! 

For those folks who are relatively (or completely) new to rooting cuttings, I created a new page here on the blog.  Look up toward the banner and to your left and you'll see a tab that says "Propagating Fig Trees".  Click on that to leap to a page of advice - both my own tips and fabulous tips & photos  from Dave Krop (.09 Acres Blog), Jon Verdick  (  - a super fig site) and Ray Givan.  Even links to a propagation video!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Who Are All These Wonderful Figgy People???

I am just overwhelmed with the wonderful response to my crazy fig cutting offer!  I can tell you right now that this insanity will be all over by the end of this weekend - we have hundreds of cuttings to take!  Folks have responded so amazingly - - I'm wading through all of the donations and requests for figs right now.  We have raised several HUNDRED dollars already today and we may be even higher when I get all of this wrapped up, thanks to your donations.  Ya'll are wonderful - and a special, special thank you to those warm-hearted souls who donated over and above the $20 request to help the girls at  San Mar.  These are kids who didn't have much of a chance without this special place and programs, so it means a lot.  I think I will be writing all of your names on my tour shirt - - and I expect "baby" photos sent back at the cuttings take hold.

I updated the earlier blog post that had the offer (probably just below this one on your computer screen) to show what's already been snapped up.  Whew!  What a whirlwind!  This is just more fun than fundraising should be.  At this time all donations are "disabled" - I'll post word if there are cuttings still available.  Looks like we're going to be down to Alma and Celeste by Sunday.

Hugs to all of you,


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Figs, Figs, Figs...... Cuttings for You, Help for Girls!

Did I mention that, in celebration of my 60th birthday, I have committed to a 200 mile bike ride fundraiser for the San Mar children's home slightly north of us in Maryland?  My commitment includes raising as many $ as possible for San Mar, which is a foster facility/adoption center/teen crisis center for young girls who need help they can not get at home or on their own.

It occurs to me that one unique resource I have for this venture falls back to the faithful fig trees that have been such a part of our life, forming the basis for the thriving fruit nursery business we retired from five years ago.  Having given cuttings for that nursery for years, I think I can cheerfully get the trees to give up some cuttings for this worthwhile venture.

If any of my blog friends are interested in fig cuttings, here's the "deal":  Let me know, either by email ( or by comment to this blog, what dozen cuttings you would like (fig varieties follow below on this page) and where to send them.

Then use this online link:  Link is now disabled! - Sybil (that's my ID for The Great Bicycle Tour of the C&O Canal, which is the crazy fundraiser for San Mar) to make a $20 cc donation (or more if you really want to help some kids!).

If you are like me and you'd rather use Paypal online, donate via the ChipIn widget Link is now disabled! - Sybil When your donation comes through - I'll send you the cuttings, no postage charge if you are lower 48 US.   My treat! (Sorry farther-flung friends, your shipping is more than I can afford.)

So, to recap:
  1. Pick your 12 cuttings and email me your choices (how many of what varieties) and shipping name/address.
  2. Make a donation by link or by PayPal. (Feel generous - it's worth it!)
  3. You will get an email from me letting you know your fig cuttings are on the way.
Here are the fig varieties: (Starred varieties may have limited cuttings)  All cuttings will be terminal cuts if possible.  All photos shown are mine and of the actual tree unless noted otherwise.

Alma Gold - Possibly my favorite fig.  It is the first to ripen here in VB as a gold/green fig, continues throughout the summer and finishes as a deep bronze fruit in the late fall.  Our most prolific and continuous producer.  Rarely splits or sours and produces hundreds of figs every season.  Makes insanely good fig jam!  (Yep, it is the same as just Alma - we added the Gold at the nursery so folks would know what it was like.)

All Gone!!! Everyone came on for this fig - and she's worth it!  Thank you, San Mar supporters!!  Battaglia Green (a deep Strawberry Verte) was introduced by our nursery about 15 years ago.  The tree was saved by our friend, Sandy Battaglia, hence the name.  It turned out to be one of the most beautiful of the verte figs with a rich, dark burgundy-red center.  Stunning in salads and any kind of fruit plate.  Surprises everyone who cuts or bites into it.  Very sweet and delightful.

Panache ("Tiger Fig")- One of the most unusual figs we've grown.  We prized this mother tree for the very distinct stripes on the fruit - each of which has a raspberry red interior.  Susceptible to splitting in wet conditions, plant well drained.  Long ripening period so best for southern, southwestern locations.  Can be grown in pots for northern locations if you have a really hot sunny summer patio spot. This tree shoots on short node length, so expect full but slightly shorter cuttings. This pretty ARS photo shows it better than my own shot!

Celeste ( Celestial, Button Fig, Sugar Fig, Southern Fig) - Our Celeste is the true, small fruited, super-sweet old southern fig.  Folks frequently mistake Celeste and Brown Turkey.  We worked with a number of fig growers to figure out final differences - the names are interchanged in the south - and this is a true Celeste.  We believe Hardy Chicago is a sport of this Celeste.  This is the sweetest fig we grow and consistently won any taste trials here at the nursery. ( I understand that this photo of mine is also the most copied of all the fig photos I ever posted on our site!)  I also have some cuttings of Blue Celeste - not that we've ever noticed any remarkable difference between them, that's just how it came designated years ago, so we've kept the ID in case.  If you want some of both, you can make your own decision!

Italian Golden Honey (Lattarula, Lemon Fig, Peter's Honey) -  An old and classic golden fig, green to gold on the outside, bronze on the inside.  Fruits medium, sometimes fairly large.  A very mild and very sweet fig.  Surprisingly hardy, this fig has very flexible stems and we had great fun pruning espaliered forms of it at the farm.  Sweetest in drier seasons so don't overwater once established.

ALL GONE!!! ** Violette - The true Violette introduced by Mike McConkey at Edible Landscaping.  This variety has a thin, long-lobed leaf and is very distinct. If you have a long warm fall season in your area, these fruits slowly ripen to a perfect, wrinkled heaven of sweetness.  Unmistakable!  This tree was cut severely back after storm damage and so there will be fewer cuttings of this than the others so put your request for this one in early!  (FYI, yes, this is the Violette de Bourdeaux, according to Mike McConkey.)

ALL GONE!!! **  San Piero (California Brown Turkey)- This grows for me as a smaller, multi-stemmed fig, more like a bush.  Quite large figs, however, that are lighter than a Brown Turkey but with a nice flavor.  As a young fig, it routinely froze to the ground and sprang back up - took about four years to really fruit (an eternity in fig time).  In really warm areas, I'm told you need to prune heavily to get strong fruit set.  Here, the winters do it for us!  (PS  I believe that  San Pietro is a separate and different fig but I have not grown it.)

ALL GONE!! **Hardy Chicago - I think this particular tree came to me through Ray Givan but it is from the original H. Chicago that Fred Born propagated and introduced.  We think it may have been a sport of Celeste, the fruit shape and leaf shape is very, very similar but the fruits are much darker and the leaves have a rougher, tougher texture.  Almost a black fig with a very sweet, dark red interior.

ALL GONE!!!**Texas Everbearing - This fig gets listed as Brown Turkey but it bears little, if any, resemblance to our Eastern Brown Turkey.  Ira Condit lists them as the same thing but I don't agree - maybe it's an eastern/western thing.  The fruits are smaller - not as small as Celeste - kind of a medium fig with a really nice flavor.  Seems pretty hardy and slow growing.  We really like this fig and have given lots of cuttings to our hort educator friends in hopes that it would be more widely grown here.

Okay, that's the line-up so far!  If anything looks appealing, let me know your choices and we'll get the cuttings on the way.  It's warming up FAST here in  Virginia Beach, so this needs to happen over the next month!  Let me know if you have questions or if anything is either unclear or not working - this is a big experiment!

All the best,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Suddenly, a Brief February Winter!

After weeks of delightfully mild weather, this week we suddenly plummeted smack into freezing winter.  Roaring winds with chill temperatures into the teens and even lower, hard freezes at night and, finally, an actual snowfall.  Pretty... but not welcome at this farm.  We're not fans of winter, having done enough time on the Great Lakes to know the reality of it.

You can see from the picture just how barren and bleak the farm can look in cold weather.  The asparagus bed is just dead, feathery foliage, not yet cleaned up and the greenhouse looks much more foreboding than welcoming.  No seeds starting yet - we are no longer fooled by mild seasons and hold out for true early spring before getting any of the planting stuff ready.  It actually looks colder here without snow than with it!

What you can't see in the photo I took this morning of our beleaguered Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) - already recovering from the vicious Sapsucker attacks -  is the abundance of tiny birds hiding from the weather under its strong, leathery leaves.  And, yes, those are fruits and flowers you see dusted with snow.  It blooms in December and the small forming fruits have to make it through these arctic blasts if they are to enlarge and ripen in the spring.  This is the sort of cold blast that knocks my ever-optimistic Loquat planning to hell every season!  Nonetheless, a few fruits will be safely hidden within the branches and I'll get at least a dozen or so to savor.

Hopefully, all of the figs will come through okay.  The trees are old enough now to have some real strength but the continuing warmth (up close to 70 several days) had brought out noticeable green to the terminal buds.  I did not protect the  Ficus afghanistanica deliberately, continuing to follow just how well it may or may not do here - but I'm almost sorry now.  I'd like to get enough growth on it to have some figs!  The little gal is finally getting to bearing size, although knocked back pretty heavily last winter and I'd love to see that the figs are like.  Well, the next couple of weeks will begin revealing if there is serious dieback on anything.

Happy winter!