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Fig tree replacement
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jekahrs
80 Posts
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1
November 26, 2019 - 3:07 pm

I have a "Stella" fig tree I want to replace. I don't really like the fruit and when some friends who love figs didn't like them I figured it was time to go. I have a Negronne in a pot and end up liking the fruit, so I figure that black figs are probably more up my alley. Several questions: What is a tasty black fig that could replace the tree with (Tree is 8 years old). I want the tree to get some height although a huge tree is probably not desirable. Also, should I just get rid of the whole tree or can/should I graft different types of figs. In my "tropical" garden so would like it to look nice. I have checked out different varieties on the OGW website but honestly have no idea what would have a pleasant flavor. 

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
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2
November 26, 2019 - 5:42 pm

Vern's brown turkey is brown, not black, but it is highly rated around here. Also said to grow but not huge.  Named after HOS very own Vern Nelson, one of my personal heroes.

John S
PDX OR

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buzzoff
84 Posts
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3
November 30, 2019 - 4:57 pm

We don't usually graft figs, because they are easy to start from cuttings (or by stool layering) and they can grow well on their own roots.

That doesn't mean, that it can't be done.

It would be nice to have some different figs, without have to wait multiple years, for new trees to attain a goodly size.

In my imagination, Whip grafting might be productive.

Hey! Out there!  Have any of you ever grafted a fig?

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Viron
1400 Posts
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4
December 2, 2019 - 3:29 pm

Hey! Out there!  Have any of you ever grafted a fig?

Not I Cool  

I had been advised early to allow them to “clump,” or sprout multiple limb-shoots from the ground, rather than prune them to a single trunked “tree.”  If a hard freeze occurred, the outside, younger 'limbs' might die, but the inside larger ones most often survived.  Also, allowing them to clump worked well when pruning; remove the largest stocks, allowing younger, smaller shoots to take over.  Brings the height down, and thins the 'bush/ clump.' 

My suspicion is, even if successfully grafted, they’d seriously over-grow the graft scions with shoots from below it … and that the scions could not provide the nutrients necessary to feed the root system.  If I replaced a fig, I’d remove as much of the original as possible; a total dig-out. But they grow fast, often fruiting the second year.

Brown Turkey (if likely related to Vern’s) was my favorite.  It could handle colder weather than most, with mid-season ripening, if ‘purple’ Wink

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Viron
1400 Posts
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December 2, 2019 - 3:45 pm

Also, I had a Stella fig tree, we nicknamed it ‘The Cardboard fig.’  No taste, and though recommended by someone … I didn't pass it on..  It fortunately fruited early enough to make digging out and replacing it with a Desert King, easier.  

As I’d recommend a Brown Turkey above, they’re easy to find at nurseries, so you could get a couple years jump on growth.  And, they’re a smallish sized fig. In my experience, one third the un-pruned size of a Desert King (though I loved both).

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buzzoff
84 Posts
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6
December 8, 2019 - 4:43 pm

Yup!  The big producer in my yard, is Desert King.

It grows so aggressively, that I'm must occasionally prune it way, way back.

I remove the large trunks, and let the tree revitalize itself through new growth.

New growth, that is much closer to the ground.

That way, I can actually harvest the figs.   Left un-barbered, the trees rapidly become so large, that a majority of the figs are unreachable.

More troubling, the figs trees grow so large, that they threaten to overwhelm my apple trees.

No small feat.  My apple trees are 20+ feet high, and broad-shouldered.  111s, that have been given free reign for decades.

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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7
December 16, 2019 - 2:21 pm

Among dark figs, my best result is Hardy Chicago.  It's productive, reliable, and the figs are very tasty.  Hardy Chicago is my best producer.

I like the flavor of Petite negri better.  They are more figgy.   Beautiful black figs with red inside.  The challenge is they are often too late, and a lot of them get moldy in the fall rain.  I bought that tree 20 years ago from Wayside Nursery in S Carolina, I think. mIn later years their catalog had the same photo but the name changed to Negronne.    Petite negri grows slowly, about 8 feet tall and side in 15 years.

Lattarula is also an excellent producer, both early and late crops and big juicy green figs, not dark.  They are sweet and delicious and juicy, but not as figgy flavored as the darker figs.

I have grafted figs.  It takes some care due to the fragility of scionwood due to the center pith, but once they start growing they are fine.  All of my current fig trees are cutting-grown because large herbivorous animals, relatives of Bambi, ate the grafted trees.

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quokka
Corvallis
148 Posts
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8
December 22, 2019 - 3:08 pm

jekahars, why not just move your Negronne to that spot? You already know you like it and that it will produce for you. 

Good luck digging out the Stella. 

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jekahrs
80 Posts
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January 8, 2020 - 1:17 pm

Thanks everyone for the great responses. Maybe indeed move the Negronne from the pot to the where the Stella is. 

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Dubyadee
Puyallup, Washington, USA
222 Posts
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10
April 24, 2020 - 1:16 pm

ReconFIGuring

I have a Brown Turkey fig that produces very little quantity of fruit.  I think it just gets a little too cold here and branch tips freeze too hard for fruit production.  The fall crop comes in very heavy and I thin it a lot but the season is too short and the fall crop never ripens, just a month too short.  My Desert King tree does much better with first crop and doesn't start a second.

This spring I am reconFIGuring my Brown Turkey.  I cut several large branches from the center of the tree and grafted in Osborne Prolific, Desert King, and Olympian.IMG_6905.jpgIMG_6906.jpgIMG_6887.jpgIMG_6888.jpg

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
(Offline)
11
April 24, 2020 - 9:41 pm

Cool experiment. I will be looking forward to seeing how that works.

John S
PDX OR

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GH
Battle Ground, WA
91 Posts
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12
April 24, 2020 - 9:42 pm

Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Woodland, Washington, has an enormous fig tree on the property.  It's at least 20 feet tall (?) and is also very wide.  It is the largest fig tree that I've ever encountered.  

Last year at the annual lilac festival held in April and May, I asked a volunteer if it produces figs.  She didn't know and also wasn't sure of the variety.  The festival has been cancelled this year due to the corona virus outbreak, so perhaps I can find out next year.

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jekahrs
80 Posts
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13
April 25, 2020 - 5:36 pm

Great to know I can graft figs in the future. They have that weird sap. I have attached a photo of by fig tree. Seems like it would be tough to dig up. Maybe sell it on Craig's list? The only problems with grafting is getting grafts. Was looking at OGW, the figs that stood out as replacements:

Chicago Hardy

Vern's Brown

Roude de Bordeaux

My goal is not necessarily a real sweet fig. I want a flavorful one that doesn't have a "vegital" qualities. 

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Dubyadee
Puyallup, Washington, USA
222 Posts
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14
June 1, 2020 - 5:29 pm

Update on my fig grafts - total failure, 0/6.  Seems that the scion all dried out, it might have been beneficial to wrap entirely with parafilm.  Maybe I will retry when it warms up more and the tree is actively growing.

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quokka
Corvallis
148 Posts
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15
June 3, 2020 - 4:10 pm

jekahrs said
Great to know I can graft figs in the future. They have that weird sap. I have attached a photo of by fig tree. Seems like it would be tough to dig up. Maybe sell it on Craig's list? The only problems with grafting is getting grafts. Was looking at OGW, the figs that stood out as replacements:

Chicago Hardy

Vern's Brown

Roude de Bordeaux

My goal is not necessarily a real sweet fig. I want a flavorful one that doesn't have a "vegital" qualities.   

Digging up the 8 year old tree will be some work, but I doubt you can get much $ if you want somebody else to dig it up. But if you ask around I'll bet somebody would like the tree.

If you aren't going to plant out the Negronne, which you know you like, my suggestion would be to wait on getting another fig tree. You should be able to taste some figs this summer and fall and find one or more that match your tastes. I know that what others have stated on this thread for tastes do not match my experiences, and it makes even less sense to place much stock in the nursery catalog descriptions. You are going to be stuck with your choice for a few years, so waiting a few months to get it right for you seems reasonable. 

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Reinettes
Lewis Co., WA
375 Posts
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16
June 5, 2020 - 8:09 pm

During a number of years that I lived in southern California I apparently took figs for granted.  Now, having been in SW Washington for some 21 years, the one variety that will seem to do well here is 'Desert King'.  I think that now I'll have to try 'Brown Turkey' and perhaps 'Chicago Hardy'.  

Step one:  get a fig to establish and grow in our highly localized microclimate....

Twice now I've been unable to root and grow 'Desert King' when, over my lifetime, I have been able to successfully root and grow a profoundly diverse variety of plants including species that I was told by "experts" could not be grown from cuttings.  I can only conclude that there is voodoo at work in our area.

Any hints on how to root fig cuttings in opposition to bad mojo would be tremendously appreciated!

Reinettes

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John S
PDX OR
2593 Posts
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17
June 6, 2020 - 9:46 pm

I know with Desert King, you have to water them in the summer the first year. They will dry out and die otherwise.  Yep, I figured that out the hard way.

John S
PDX OR

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Dubyadee
Puyallup, Washington, USA
222 Posts
(Offline)
18
June 6, 2020 - 11:23 pm

Reinettes said

Any hints on how to root fig cuttings in opposition to bad mojo would be tremendously appreciated!

Reinettes  

I root figs before cutting from my tree by air layering. 

Slit a gallon pot down the side to one of the drain holes. 

Insert a fig branch in the drain hole (would not need to slit the pot if branch has not leafed out yet). Wound the bark of the branch inside the pot.

Drive a tall wooden stake in the ground to support the pot.

Screw the pot to the stake.

Fill pot with soil.

Allow to grow for six weeks.  Keep pot watered.

Cut off and transplant.

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sweepbjames
NE Portland, OR Cully Neighborhood
212 Posts
(Offline)
19
June 8, 2020 - 2:27 pm

Lattarula, as mentioned is green, tinged to yellowish skin, golden honey color inside when fully ripe; in my 'townie' lot works pretty well. This one is planted near and to the south of a garage, getting benefit of reflected heat. Still trying to learn to prune to promote the early crop, generally tastier than the fall crop when the rains dilute the sugars. I've taken to cutting back to six fruits (about) sometime in late summer to encourage less extension growth and more energy concentrated toward the ripening fruit. Probably working at cross purposes to the encouragement of the early crop, but keeps the peace with the better half who likes a more contained structure..

The 'Verns Brown Turkey' is regionally deemed more reliable to ripen it's crop than cousin 'Brown Turkey' which, from all I've heard/seen, needs an extended summer to ripen its fruits.

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quokka
Corvallis
148 Posts
(Offline)
20
June 9, 2020 - 8:32 am

Reinettes said
During a number of years that I lived in southern California I apparently took figs for granted.  Now, having been in SW Washington for some 21 years, the one variety that will seem to do well here is 'Desert King'.  I think that now I'll have to try 'Brown Turkey' and perhaps 'Chicago Hardy'.  

Step one:  get a fig to establish and grow in our highly localized microclimate....

Twice now I've been unable to root and grow 'Desert King' when, over my lifetime, I have been able to successfully root and grow a profoundly diverse variety of plants including species that I was told by "experts" could not be grown from cuttings.  I can only conclude that there is voodoo at work in our area.

Any hints on how to root fig cuttings in opposition to bad mojo would be tremendously appreciated!

Reinettes  

Reinettes, the rooting method I use (taught to me by another board member) has an extremely high rate of success. But I offer an alternative. If the Desert King grows in your area (it does) then you can buy a baby tree for $10 at a local farmer's market, $20 in a garden shop. When you figure the costs and time, plus getting figs a year sooner - to me, the whole rooting thing I save for figs where only cuttings are available. If you still want to root one, let's revisit when cuttings are readily available next winter. Though as Dubyadee has suggested, if you know somebody with a tree you could work with them to get an air layer.

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Reinettes
Lewis Co., WA
375 Posts
(Offline)
21
June 11, 2020 - 6:12 pm

quokka, 

I have to admit that I laughed when I saw your post!  Yes, indeed:  when all else fails, just buy one, doggone it!  

I certainly appreciate the suggestion, and I will take it to heart.  Because I've never really had a lot of money to spend on plants, it was always easiest for me to grow things from seeds or cuttings.  However, in a situation like this where I've failed twice and don't know why, it most certainly makes sense to purchase one that has been started by someone else who "has the knack".

Thanks! Wink

Reinettes

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buzzoff
84 Posts
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22
August 11, 2020 - 11:34 am

Ummm.  Rooting fig.  Lots of folk just stick a cutting in the ground, at an angle, and go from there.

My Lattarulla didn't come to me that way.  Decades ago, I might still have been a member then, I went to the All About Fruit Show.  One of the guys, had an Example of Lattarulla there.  A few cuttings.  Some leaves, and Some fruit.

I was impressed.  When the show was over, I salvaged those abandoned cuttings.  And, I took them home and stuck 'em in a Mason Jar, full of water, on a South facing window sill, inside.  Those cuttings sat all Winter, and maintained some very small leaves.  The cuttings rooted.

In the Spring/early Summer, I transferred the cuttings to a small pot.  A year or two later, to a Wine Barrel.  It's a Big tree now, and the Wine barrel has rotted away, long ago.  A second rooted cutting, that I gave to a friend, also lived.

So, if you have a jar, a window sill, and a fresh cutting with leaves on it.  You can start right now.  Fair warning, when you transfer it from water, sterilized  potting soil is a good idea.  I've taken well rooted cuttings and potted them in garden soil, only to have the cuttings die, when the roots rotted away.

Also, on another occasion, I took a whole limb of Desert King, dug a shallow trench, and buried it.  Must have had good timing.  Within a year or two, a whole row of trees had come up.  Spaced about a foot apart.

Some folks use rooting compound, and other techniques, to make trees.  None are as good as stool layering, which produces a fairly large, well rooted tree, right from the get-go.  But, if you don't have a tree to begin with, you need patience. 

OK.  I'm going to provide a link.

An example of air layering: t=316s

 

OK.  Nice example of rooting cuttings.  Uses rooting compound, which seems to be helpful.  Can't argue with 100%.

 

In another video.  Same guy roots fig cuttings, essentially by the same method, but utilizing non-dormant wood.

Just takes some cuttings, removes all of the leaves, treats 'em with rooting compound, sticks 'em in potting soil, in cups, using bottom heat.  Seems to work fine.   I've got a yogurt maker that can produce Botton heat very well...

Might be a fun project for this afternoon.

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