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Growing Figs West of the Cascades, PNW
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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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August 29, 2015 - 10:28 am

I thought it might be useful to have a fig topic. There are various fig forums around, but this is a fruit that seems especially dependent on location, season, variety, and year.  Each variety has a location where it does best, and places where it won't survive.  In addition some varieties give better early summer (breba) crop, and others give better fall (main) crop.  So it can be confusing.

I started growing fig trees 15 years ago.  Before that, I had never tasted a fresh fig.  Since then I've grown quite a few varieties.  Some do really well here, and others don't.  Our climate is different from California, the Southeast, Texas, and the East Coast, and each has their better choices.

The main challenges, to my mind -

Hardiness -

Some varieties die completely in a hard freeze.

Some varieties die to the ground in a hard freeze, then grow back from the ground.

Some are hardy to anything we've had in the last 15 years, with no freeze damage.

Some do better in warmer micro-environments, such as south of a house.

Bearing Characteristics.

There are fig trees that only near in early summer, breba figs (King), some that only bear in fall, main crop (Hardy Chicago), and some that do both (Lattarula).

Flavor - flavor will depend on which figs ripen in hot sunny summer, and which ones ripen in fall, with less sun, cooler weather, and shorter days.  Some are marginal, ripening only in fall, and so late that much of the crop can be lost to mold before they are ready (Brunswick).

Propagation.

Figs grow so easily from cuttings, they are almost always own-root.

Observations on Fig Varietites.

I don't mean to sound like I know more than I do, but here are some of my random observations and experiences.  These apply to figs growing in-ground.  I've had some of these varieties 15 years, others as little as 5 years.  I have a few others just in containers, which is more trouble, especially keeping them watered.  My container trees are also less productive than my in-ground trees.

Lattarula.  Excellent breba, good main crop some years.  Mine is close to the house, south side.  There, it's never had freeze damage.  I don't know about more exposed location.  Very sweet and juicy.  Very vigorous.  Green or pale yellow.  Also sold at "Marseilles White" and other names, and grown by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello.

King.  Excellent breba, only.  That said, I sometimes get a small main crop - rarely.  Sheltered, next to the Lattarula.  Complicated pruning, because you have to leave this year's growth for next year's breba crop.  Very sweet and juicy.  Very vigorous. Green.  A California hybrid also sold as "Desert King".

Lattarula and King figs

Lattarula and King

Hardy Chicago.  Mostly main crop, rare brebas.  Mine is exposed, no protection.  No leave damage to early freeze, even when other varieties were damaged.  Not as large figs, flavor is richer, more complex, and a bit less sweet compared to the summer varieties.  Brown.  Considered a "Mt. Etna" type fig.  Moderate vigor.

Petite negri.  I bought this about 15 years ago mail order from a S. Carolina nursery that is careless about names, so the name might not be right.  It's also been labeled Aubique petite and some think it is Negronne.  Much slower growing but now approx 8 foot tall tree with lots of figs each fall.  Some consider it dwarf.  Minimal summer, crop, mostly fall.  Later tghan Hardy Chicago, and I often loose about 1/4 to 1/2 of the crop to mold due to late ripening.  Even so, I like it a lot.  Flavor is better than Hardy Chicago, sweeter and richer.  Maybe with the hot summer this year, they will bear earlier.  This tree is unprotected.  It had some freeze damage during the worst winters, but not significant.  Black fig, red inside.

Figs - Petite negri and Lattarula.

Lattarula and Petite Negri

Sal's Fig.  This is the first that I brought to my Battleground place when I bought the place 3 years ago.  Grew from cutting 10 years ago but neglected it, it was eaten off by chickens, left in container outside in the coldest freezes, and it still survived.  Not vigorous but it is in an exposed location with poor fertility.  Also among the first of the fall crop, about same time as Hardy Chicago.  Black, small figs, rich flavor.  I need to nurture it better and see if I can encourage more growth, and production it's a good and hardy variety.  Considered a Mt. Etna type fig.

Brunswick.  I started this from a cutting of a tree in an unused lot in Vancouver WA. The ID is based on fig shape and color, and leaf characteristics.  I've had this unprotected in the yard for 15 years, first in my Suburban yard in Vancouver WA, then dug up and moved to my country yard in Battleground WA.  No freeze damage even in the historic coldest winter, 2013-2014.  No breba - they start but all fall off.  Main crop can be late and much lost to rain and chill / mold.  When they do ripen, they are light brown, straw colored inside, my biggest figs, incredibly sweet.  I have not tried covering the tree with plastic to protect from rain - might be worthwhile.  This year looks like it will be a bumper crop.  Long history in US, also sold as "Dalmatian", "Magnolia", "Madonna", and other names.

Petite negri (1 fig), Hardy Chicago (3 figs), and Brunswick (2 figs).

I also have some hobby varieties, obtained through the mail as cuttings in the past 3 years or so.  There hasn't been time for a good assessment of hardiness, but some have good flavor.

LSU Tiger - Modern  variety from Louisiana State University.  Vigorous.  Sometimes fig trees are more tender during their first year, and we had the coldest winter in known history when I first planted it in Battleground, which has no heat island effect.  The first year it was killed to the ground, last year it survived.  Seems to be  fairly vigorous.  The figs are sweet brown figs, juicier and sweeter than Hardy Chicago type.  I'm not sure when the bearing will be best.  Mainly seem to be main crop.

LSU Tiger and Sal's

LSU Tiger and Sals

Champaigne - Another modern variety from Louisiana State University. Same issues as LSU Tiger, but was killed completely that winter.  Small, yellow figs.  I have one in container, no bearing this year.  Not sure what I will do with it.

Smith - Historic variety from South Louisiana.  I'm not sure what my thing is about Louisiana figs.  Same hardiness issues as Tiger.  In container, first figs are now, Aug 29th, main crop.  No brebas.  Average size, rich flavor.  I'm not sure if I will try again planting outside.  Container culture can be a hassle during hot summers.

Smith Fig

Carini - unknown variety from fig forum member, a family heirloom originating in Sicily.  Sal's and Hardy Chicago are also Sicilian figs.  Carini is a medium size, red-ish fig with both brebas and main crop in my hands, more main crop than breba.  Same hardiness questions and experience as LSU Tiger.  It survived last winter (2014-2015) and currently has a sizable crop of main crop.  I don't know yet whether those will all ripen before chill and rains, we'll see.  I also have some in containers, one to give away.

I also have young trees of another fig forum Italian family heirloom type, called "Dominick", from the NE, said to be hardy; "Atreano", considered hardy, one labeled as "Sicilian White", and two that I lost the labels.  Too early to say what these will be like.  Also some new starts of Celeste, considered hardy, small very sweet figs.  That one was also a family heirloom type, and I had forgotten the dormant cuttings in the refrigerator for 6 months, found them while looking for a jar of mustard, and started in June.  Two of the four cuttings are growing pretty well,  I think are at size where they can take off and grow fast next year.

I keep all of my fig trees pruned to a moderate size, small enough to reach all figs without a ladder.  For most, when the new growth is about 4 to 6 leaves, I snap off the growing tip to stimulate fig formation and tight branching.  I prune out the center for a bowl-shaped tree to allow light inside.  I think these are attractive in a front yard, big leaves and compact size compared to bigger fruit trees.  My established trees got no water at all for the past few summers, and do fine even in this summer, which was the hottest on record (2015) and very dry.  Younger / smaller trees have less extensive roots so I do water them.  I mulch about 3 to 5 foot diameter area under the trees, usually with leaves or grass clippings, or wood chips if I can get them cheaply.  I use tanglefoot, apply to plastic sleeve on trunk, to keep ants out of the figs.  Ants have a nice crunchy texture, but I am concerned they bring fungal spores into the fig and cause spoilage.  At my country place in battleground, I wrap the bottom of the trunks each fall with 1/4" hardware cloth, because voles really love eating the bark and killing the trees.  Don't believe what you read about fig sap / latex being toxic and unpalatable to animals - voles love it.

Hardy Chicago Fig Tree

Hardy Chicago Fig Tree

Most people who I know, do not grow figs, and have never tasted a really ripe locally grown one.  They are a fruit that is so easy and so delicious, when really ripe, that people don't know what they are missing. 

If I was going to start over, I would try other varieties that are better known for local conditions, rather than the hobby types I have been trying.  Raintree lists a number of them, as do One Green World and Burnt Ridge Nursery.   There are many types that have been grown in the Pacific NW area, that I have not tried.  If I was going to try other, less typical varieties, the Trees Of Joy website has some good descriptions, but not currently available. 

Fig trees are so easy to start from cuttings, if a variety  is seen to do well locally, a cutting from that tree would be a great way to start more.  I've started dozens, and gave most away.  I think most gardeners would be happy to share, if asked.  I would.

I am not an expert.  I think the more we share our experiences, and findings, the more we all benefit.  These are my experiences, so far.  I am interested in hearing what other HOS members have grown, and your experiences.

Figs in ancient Egypt.  From Condit's book about figs.

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jafar
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August 29, 2015 - 12:19 pm

Excellent, excellent post Daniel.  Thank you for your contribution, although I don't love being taunted with Louisianna figs, since I don't have the time or the inclination to keep a greenhouse 🙂

You know, the Home Orchard Society usually arranges a couple of tours each year.  I think members would enjoy a visit out to your place in the next couple of years if you'd be open to it.

Jafar

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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August 29, 2015 - 1:20 pm

Jafar, thank you. I was hoping this discussion would be appropriate for the HOS forum.

Yes, those Louisiana figs are like the sirens of Greek mythology, except instead of being beautiful creatures luring sailors to their doom, they are beautiful delicious figs, luring fig gardeners to futile gardening efforts. 

I might plant the containerized ones in the ground this year, and see if they survive.  Being a couple of years older, maybe they will survive a colder winter.  From what I read, it's the young starts that are most susceptible to a freeze.   Plus, with El niño this year, a milder winter is predicted, which would allow them to establish better.  Depends on how ambitious I feel.

I don't feel like I have a sufficient orchard for a tour, but will leave that up to your judgement.  I am more than happy to show any visitor(s) around and when I have more time next Spring (retire) will hope to see other gardens and orchards Smile

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John S
PDX OR
2549 Posts
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August 29, 2015 - 7:54 pm

As Jafar said, 
Great post with lots of information. I only grow Desert King. I have tried others but they died. Figs aren't my favorite fruit, so I'm not going to nerd out on them. I like them though.  I wrote an article a couple of years ago saying that we are now getting two crops per year with Desert King every year, this year too.  I don't do anything to them.  I prefer to eat them with plain yogurt or lime juice drops because for me, they are a bit too sweet.  Yogurt or lime transforms them into a much more complex flavor, I think.  I only eat them fresh.  That may change in the future, because my wife is crazy about them. 

John S
PDX OR

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jafar
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August 29, 2015 - 9:11 pm

 

John S said
...I prefer to eat them with plain yogurt or lime juice drops because for me, they are a bit too sweet.  Yogurt or lime transforms them into a much more complex flavor, I think...

John S
PDX OR

John, here's one we agree on.  I also have Desert King and also think it a bit too sweet and wanting in flavor.  But they are healthy, productive, and beautiful.  I'm interested to see if my second crop ripens this year.  If not this year, then I'll assume never for me.

Negronne has done really well for me in Vancouver and has more and better flavor, especially the brebas when they ripen in the heat.

I don't grow it, but I also like Lattarulla better than Desert King.  But it is more delicate.

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Delvi83
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September 1, 2015 - 2:08 pm

Very Very interesting....here in Italy the most common are "Brogiotto" and "Dottato" cultivars

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jafar
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September 1, 2015 - 4:37 pm

Delvi83, welcome to the site.  Funny, I just asked you where you are located in a different thread.

I've looked up those two figs on Google. Gorgeous!  They must taste good too to be common there.

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Delvi83
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September 4, 2015 - 2:53 am

Yes, they have a very good flavor...they have the main production in late summer (early september), very sweet fruits 🙂 !!! For "Brogiotto" we have "Brogiotto Bianco" (Bianco = White) e "Brogiotto Nero" (Nero = Black)....this last has a more intense flavor and, as the name says, ha a dark skin

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heffevuna
Portland, OR
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January 24, 2016 - 3:52 pm

Has anyone tried to grow these Tiger / Panache figs in Portland? I had some last summer from New Seasons and they are absolutely some of the tastiest fruit I've ever eaten. Like raspberry jam. Looks like they need a long hot summer, which we definitely had last year.

http://www.raintreenursery.com.....leeve.html

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jafar
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January 24, 2016 - 8:56 pm

heffevuna said
Has anyone tried to grow these Tiger / Panache figs in Portland? I had some last summer from New Seasons and they are absolutely some of the tastiest fruit I've ever eaten. Like raspberry jam. Looks like they need a long hot summer, which we definitely had last year.

http://www.raintreenursery.com.....leeve.html

Welcome to the forum heffevuna,

I'd love to try a Panache some time, they certainly are pretty.  My guess is that Panache would be disappointing if treated like an apple tree or other temperate fruit for Portland. 

But perhaps if you have a hat microclimate, like against a South facing wall and surrounded by asphalt.

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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January 27, 2016 - 9:15 pm

panache is really beautiful

http://www.lecooke.com/Images/.....r-Fig(RGB).pdf

A few years ago, I started some from cuttings, but they died when I was down after surgery.  

Most of what I have read about Panache, states they are best grown in Southern California, they need long, hot summers.    Jafar has a good point, a hot microclimate might help.

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cathy
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February 17, 2016 - 12:03 pm

Hello --  My eight-year-old fig trees (a Desert King and a Brown Turkey) finally gave me a wonderful harvest last year in NW Portland.

Today I am writing for suggestions for landscaping underneath the fig trees.    My trees are on the south side of a fence at the top of my property.  The north side of the fence faces the street and needs some landscaping help -- with plants that might thrive among the matt-like fig roots.

Ideas?  Thank you in advance.

 

-Cathy in NW Portland/Cedar Mill

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jafar
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February 18, 2016 - 11:29 am

cathy said
Hello --  My eight-year-old fig trees (a Desert King and a Brown Turkey) finally gave me a wonderful harvest last year in NW Portland.

Today I am writing for suggestions for landscaping underneath the fig trees.    My trees are on the south side of a fence at the top of my property.  The north side of the fence faces the street and needs some landscaping help -- with plants that might thrive among the matt-like fig roots.

Ideas?  Thank you in advance.

 

-Cathy in NW Portland/Cedar Mill

Cathy, welcome to the forum.  Congrats on your harvest.  That took longer than I'd expect.

I don't have a direct answer for you, but John or others probably will have plenty.

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John S
PDX OR
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February 19, 2016 - 10:40 pm

Hi Cathy,

One idea would be to grow early growing flower bulbs that are flowering now and pretty small, like crocus, snowdrops, anemones/grecian windflowers. Even daffodils, because they will be done blooming and out of the way before you are stepping around your figs to get the fruit. Also since many are poisonous, they deter voles, and other small creatures that could want to munch on the bark of your fig during the winter.  The old timers did it that way. They planted along the drip line mostly.  They also bring in pollinators like that.  If you have Desert King, you could plant chrysanthemums, because the crop is in the summer, so when they bloom in October you're not really focussed on the crop. You might get some second crop, but it's smaller and they don't really taste as good anyway. Also a vicious but adorable mini schauzzer will terrify the squirrels in the yard and get them to steal other neighbors' fruit instead of yours. 

My two cents.

JohN S
PDX OR

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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February 21, 2016 - 6:23 am

Cathy,

I have tried underplanting fig trees with various plants.  You are correct that they have a vigorous root system.  As John suggests, I have used daffodils, which around my area are one of a handful of species of bulbs that voles don't eat.

I've also planted strawberries under the fig roots.  That's especially viable in a sunny location.  I can't say that they were highly productive, but they did OK. 

Chinese chives are a great plant that bees love.  The  leaves are used for the traditional NorthEast chinese filled dumplings.  The more common regular Chives are also good and bees love those too.

The challenge I see for you, is it sounds like they will be on the North side of a fence, plus under the tree, so very shady.  Possibly a ground cover like fragaria would grow.  Fragaria is the ornamental strawberry with pink flowers, makes a nice mat on the soil.  Depending on the size of the space, Sedums and Sempervivium might do well.  I've had them growing in a shallow box, on the north side of my house and also shaded on the east, for many years.  They are dry tolerant and at the same time seem shallow rooted.

Some ornamental grasses might do well, although grass usually requires a lot of sun.

Finally, if the space and your budget allow, a shallow planter box would help with raising the soil level for your plants.  I'm thinking something made with 2 X 4's or 2 X 6's, or paving bricks, to raise the soil 3 to 5 inches above the fig tree roots.  I don't think that would hurt your fig tree, and it would give your planting a boost.

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cathy
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February 21, 2016 - 11:18 am

John and Daniel --

Okay then...  I will focus on bulbs for this challenging area, and maybe I will get some landscape rocks and work in some sedums, too.  I like the idea of garlic chives, too, and have some other alliums (garlic and leeks) growing well under the figs. 

Thank you for your ideas!

 

-cathy

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murf
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July 9, 2016 - 12:07 pm

ok last year during the winter I cut every limb over 7 ft on my fig tree some were over 12 ft high to high for me . and I had 2 crops of figs the first bunch got ripe the second bunch never made it weather got cold leaves fell figs died . 

I also cut my rasberries and thinned them out !

I live in Puyallup Washington and normally we don't get a really cold winter just a few days below 32 deg !

any how my fig tree was mad at me and decided to grow fast and hard this year I now have  figs on it at all stages of growth large figs  med figs small figs several hundred figs , again limbs over 12 ft high and now it spread out with bowed limbs because of the weight of the figs these seem to be lattarula or king figs according to the picture up above.

 the rasberries seem to have grown also as we have picked all we needed and we had several friends over that got all they needed . the only stuff I add to the soil are trimings from plants any vegetables that are let over and I have waste from my compost bin I spread out each winter . my PH is at 7 when I check the soil .

I keep hearing about people having problems with their fig trees and I look at mine and wonder what I'm doing right !

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murf
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July 10, 2016 - 8:57 am

also about plants growing under the fig tree mines a little crowded , strawberries to the front potatoes under it and raspberries  to the rear , my home has a fence on all four sides the fig tree is about 4 ft from the fence and hangs over it . there is an English laurel about 4 ft to the right of it and the roots of all these plants are inter twined , the only thing I planted was the fig tree, the birds did the rest I suspect the potatoes came from the compost pile from potato skins the strawberries were from creeping vines .

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John S
PDX OR
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July 11, 2016 - 11:40 pm

General rule: Prune during winter-the tree wakes up and finds itself chopped. I better start growing real fast.

Prune during summer: Ok, it's pretty hot out here, I'll tone it down a bit.

John S
PDX OR

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murf
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July 13, 2016 - 2:15 pm

strange thing this year I have figs at all stages growing , last year I had large ones getting ripe then it seemed that another crop had started of course the second crop didn't make it and they turned black and died because the weather got to cold . my red raspberries are done now but the golden raspberries are still going , Smile but my tomatoes have picked up a type of blight I think it was from the rain splashing up on the leaves also I picked up something that looks like black aphids on my squash plants Cry aint gardening fun lol .

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
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July 14, 2016 - 11:09 am

murf, seeing your post inspired me to check on my fig trees.  There were 2 ripe Lattarula.  So sweet!  Some of the King and a couple of Petite negri may follow soon.

lattarula fig

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redberry
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July 20, 2016 - 8:04 pm

Nice discussion about fig trees even if it does make me jealous.  I agree with Daniel that trees in containers are harder to maintain when it comes to watering.  I had purchased a second fig tree (Vern's Brown Turkey) last year but I am undecided where I want to put it!  It has still produced a few figs this year even in less than ideal conditions....  This photo is from last year.

redberry

 

VernsBTFig1A.JPG

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murf
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July 21, 2016 - 9:10 pm

my figs are starting to get softer which means there getting ripe yea there are a bazillion figs on it this year , I'm worried about friends and family when they get ripe , I didn't know so many people liked them lol .

I think I found a good way to get fig tree's going from cuttings on u-tube . it was an old redneck and he said it works every time well I'm going to find out . I should know in about 3-4 weeks . ive tried the cuttings from 6-12 inches long wrapping them in moist paper , using root starter , in top soil with plastic bags over them , laying flat on top of the fridge in a plastic container, nothing seemed to work ! but this method sounded like it would work with out going nuts . it involved a large pop bottle cutting the bottom off and cutting it down one side , open the bottle up and place it around the limb, a limb that points upward and tape the bottle to the limb and tape the bottle together large end up of course then fill the bottle with potting soil add enough water so the soil is moist , check the soil each day to make sure its moist ! and it should take 3-4 weeks to see roots forming , wait until the bottle looks like its root bound before cutting the limb off ,

he also said take another pop bottle dig a hole bury the pop bottle and pack the dirt around it so that when you remove the bottle off the limb the shape matches the hole in the ground when you remove the bottle out of the hole and drop the root wad in .

some times the easy way is the best way ! Laugh

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murf
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July 24, 2016 - 4:24 pm

well I knew it was going to be a problem , to many fig's , ive had to tie limbs to other limbs to prevent any more problems , I had a 2 inch dia limb break off of the main trunk from the weight of the figs it seems like the figs are getting bigger and softer and heavier and the limbs cant take the weight, I think I might have to knock off some of the figs to lighten the load ! 

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murf
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July 27, 2016 - 9:13 am

checked today and found I had about 12-14 ripe figs , ate a couple and started the dehydrator up and I forgot to spray the pam on first I guess I was excited and didn't remember how sticky figs are ! these things are huge this year.

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John S
PDX OR
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July 27, 2016 - 11:49 am

We've been eating Desert King for weeks.  Unfortunately the squirrels have too. 

John S
PDX OR

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murf
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July 28, 2016 - 7:38 am

not sure it the crows or squirrels got a couple of figs but this is the first time I have had a problem I guess I was lucky and never had them touch the figs before .fig3.jpg

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
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July 28, 2016 - 11:12 am

Im getting a lot of Latterula and King figs now.  On days when there are too many, I slice in half and dry in my food dehydrator.  They are so good to eat during the winter months.

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murf
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July 31, 2016 - 9:10 pm

I eat my dehydrated figs in the winter in my granola cereal or pears or apples  or a combination we also have strawberries and raspberries we usually end up with extra berries so we let friends and kids come over to pick them. I like both kinds of raspberries red and golden .  I get about 4-5 slices when I cut my figs I cut them like silver dollars cross wise I tried cutting them in half it took to long to dry in the dehydrator and I spray my racks or they stick so bad it aint funny

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murf
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August 10, 2016 - 1:50 pm

ok I'm going to try to make fruit roll ups with figs, from scratch and create my own brew lol I will start with apple sauce for a base honey for the sweetener  and a little pineapple juice . ive made fruit rollups before out of rhubarb and other fruits  before I cant do it for a couple of days " wife says no she is having a bunco party"  lol gives me more time to plan what I'm going to do ! 

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
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August 10, 2016 - 2:53 pm

murf those fruit rollups sound good.  I have unused rhubarb, should make some.

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murf
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August 16, 2016 - 8:37 am

well figs are falling on the ground now , the fig fruit rolls turned out good , busy busy busy the garden is loaded with cabbage , tomatoes , peppers, acorn squash , gourds for Halloween , Japanese lanterns , and whatever the birds have planted lol   

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John S
PDX OR
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August 17, 2016 - 12:30 pm

Desert King usually has two crops, as do some others. Historically, you would never have a second crop ripen. However, starting a few years ago, the second crop started ripening regularly, perhaps due to the increase in our heat units.  I get a second crop every year now. They're not nearly as good as the first crop on Desert King, though.

John S
PDX OR

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murf
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August 17, 2016 - 9:17 pm

well it seems that that redneck method to start fig trees is working I see roots all over the bottle now . I will wait until the plant goes dormant before cutting it . after all the searching about taking cuttings this works and it easy ! and it seems more reliable . when the tree goes dormant this year I'm going to cut it way down to about 8-9 ft right now this year its about 18-20 ft high it grew so fast and tall this year !

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heffevuna
Portland, OR
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August 18, 2016 - 12:46 pm

I have a three-year-old fig tree that I planted as a whip. It does not seem to have had a main crop, though there are quite a few little figs on it.

How long does it take for fig trees to start really producing a main crop? I'm wondering, too, if it's not getting quite enough water. I do have my drip system at the base, but only on one side. I'm wondering if I should extend a line around the base of the tree.

It has several branches and a lot of nice growth, but it's not really producing much in the way of figs. Last summer I got about 5 figs in the summer. It's a Desert King, and I live in SW Portland, Raleigh Hills area.

Thanks, fig experts!

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murf
17 Posts
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August 18, 2016 - 7:16 pm

when watering just remember its a tree, you want to water away from the base I water mine at the drip line , in other words if you were to spray the tree with water watch where it drips that's where you would water it as the tree gets bigger the drip line gets bigger . also my fig tree started to produce figs at 4-5 years now I cant seem to control its growth last year I trimmed it to about 8-9 ft this year its about 18-20 ft tall so I'm going to trim it back as soon as it goes dormant . I really don't know what happened this year it grew so fast and there were figs all over . I didn't fertilize it all I do is throw coffee grounds banana peels and any vegetables that are getting old at the drip line . I got worried this year it seemed to be late starting to get leaves then boom this is the first year I gave away figs I had to many  hope that helps you a little .   

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allisa
Port Angles, WA
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October 24, 2016 - 3:36 pm

I took Murf's advice he stumbled on and I've attached cut-open water bottles to two of my fig tree trunks.  It looks like I know what I'm doing!  The weather here in Port Angeles is chilly -- mid 50's in the day, upper 40's over night.  My research tells me PA doesn't get a real freeze until around February (I just moved here on 8/1), and even then, it's quick and short.  I'm hoping to get a bottle full of roots and get at least one of my new starts into the ground before Christmas.  My new house has a great selection of fruit---the fig tree was planted in the most unfortunate spot.  It's in a 12" strip of soil between the edge of my concrete driveway and the neighbors fence. 

If I manage to figure out how to post photos, I will do so.  Apparently, my photos are too big to load and I don't know how to resize.

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murf
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October 24, 2016 - 7:06 pm

well its October and I'm about to cut that water bottle off its root bound jammed tight with roots the leaves are falling off we have had a couple of frosts already , I have a pot ready for it we will know I did when spring comes around !

good luck with yours .Laugh

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Tina
3 Posts
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39
October 27, 2016 - 6:07 pm

Trying to figure out what variety of fig tree we have.  Original brought from Greece over 100 years ago. Several people in town had trees grown from original. (Port Angeles).  About 10 feet tall, green/brown outside color, pink inside, very sweet and juicy. Trees growing against house on South and West facing walls.  Fruit ripens late August, early September. Always have fruit Labor Day. Harvest lasts about 3 weeks. Have photos but cant seem to upload.

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Tina
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October 27, 2016 - 6:14 pm

figs5.jpg

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Tina
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October 27, 2016 - 6:15 pm

Figs4.jpg

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murf
17 Posts
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October 27, 2016 - 6:55 pm

my figs I think are desert kings they stay green , they just get a little darker green and really soft and large and sweet . the leaves are just about all gone if this was a warmer climate I could have a second crop , I get two crops every year but the second one doesn't make it , I have knocked all the extra figs off if I didn't do it they would use nutrient's the roots could use , but now to other projects ive had my first try at home made sauerkraut and dehydrating some Japanese pear apples , the sauerkraut tastes great better then store bought and you only use salt and cabbage and it was easy , the pear apples were also good for snaking and adding it to breakfast, the green house has tomatoes onions lettuce radishes growing got to get out the qtips now for the tomatoes to pollinate them lol Smile 

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Dubyadee
Puyallup, Washington, USA
219 Posts
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May 10, 2018 - 8:15 pm

The mild winter we had with no dips into the teens seems to have been good for my Desert King fig tree.  Every branch tip is forming 3 to 5 figs.  With 50 branch tips on the tree I could have 200 figs this summer.  I have some other trees that I started in the last couple years that I'll have to pinch the branch tips to promote more branching.

IMG_3545.JPGIMG_3550.JPG

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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May 10, 2018 - 8:47 pm

Dubyadee,mine too.  This might be the first time in many years that my Brunswick has brebas, and a very big crop at that.  Others setting many brebas - Lattarula, King, Carini, Atreano, LSU Tiger.  I have a small Sicilian White that looks like it will have some nice figs for the first time, so I should get a taste of those too.

So far, I think it will be my best fig year in many years.

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
(Offline)
45
March 18, 2022 - 7:34 am

Adding update on varieties as of 3/16/2022.  Experiences from Vancouver, WA and Battle Ground, WA.

Lattarula remains my most vigorous and pruductive.  Sweet mild flavored white (greenish yellow actually) fig.

King or Desert King is similar to Lattarula.  Greener skin and pinker flesh but size and flavor about the same.  Mostly breba crop although contrary to some reports I get a small main crop, some years.

Sal's - died.  Voles.  I also had one called "Dominick" that voles killed. 

Hardy Chicago - My most reliable and earliest black main crop variety.  Richly flavored.

Carini - Usually does well, reddish brown, nice flavor.  This has been mostly main crop in September so far.

Brunswick - Usually my largest and sweetest fig but not a reliable producer.  Breba or main crop, only a handful of figs each year.

Champaigne - a yellow fig from Louisiana.  Mine is in a bad location (encroaching fir tree) which might be why I don't get much.

Smith - a brown / stripy fig from Louisiana.  Small figs.   Rarely get a crop but they are very tasty.

Petite negri - small black fig with red flesh.  My favorite for flavor, very rich fig flavor.  Compact growing tree but I rarely get brebas and the main crop usually happens so late they become moldy on the tree.

Celeste - small dark "sugar fig".  My tree is young so I don't know how it will work out in the long run.  Brebas have fallen off without ripening but main crop have been very nice.

LSU Tiger - Also from Louisiana.  Similar to Carini.  I think these are brebas but I don't have that info in my notes.  Big sweet figs.

White Sicilian - this was a gift from someone on one of the fig forums about eight years ago, same source as the Celeste.  It's turned put to be a nice, fresh flavored, sweet breba fig.  Grows pretty well, I don't do anything for it other than protection from deer while smaller.

Atreano - probably a good fig but mine is in a bad location (encroaching fir tree) and doesn't produce much.  When it does, they are large and juicy.

If I was going to recommend a fig variety for this area, for a new fig grower, it would be Lattarula or Hardy Chicago.  Other growers probably have great varieties that perform well too.  I have room for the others and they are almost no effort for me now, so I keep them for fun and  the occasional "wow" factor from my favorite flavored ones or the unusual types.

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Reinettes
Lewis Co., WA
373 Posts
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46
March 18, 2022 - 9:32 pm

DanielW,

Thanks for the update!  Nice job!  ...Eventually I'd like to have a fig or two on our property, but the cutting of "Desert King"  that I got about 4 years ago refused to root for me.  I don't know why.  At least going back to the late '70s, I've rooted all kinds of things, including things that I was told couldn't be grown from cuttings.  So why not a humble fig?

I think that in my microclimate, my first two fig choices are 'Desert King' and 'Hardy Chicago'.  I'd settle for a single productive fig tree.  When I was living in southern California, I rather took fresh figs for granted.  Now I regret it.

Reinettes.

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FruitGardener
Vista, CA, USA
22 Posts
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47
March 19, 2022 - 2:46 pm

H. Chicago was originally named Hearty Chicago. The name was changed by AgriStarts who also wrote a creative history.

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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48
March 19, 2022 - 4:56 pm

I don't know what to make of fruitgardener's post.  I'm a skeptic.  I looked upAgristart's webpage. They started business in 1984.

Here is a link from the figs4fun forum, showing an old typed and handwritten Belleclare nursery list (undated) describing the history of that variety.  It was previously named Bensonhurst Purple and Belleclair#6.

fig order list

I first heard of Chicago Hardy or Hardy Chicago in about 2002 on GardenWeb, and read about it on Ray Given's fig webpage, reproduced here. Incidentally, I am suspicious that my supposed "Petite negri" might actually be Ray Givens'  "Hâtive d'Argenteuil" - the catalog that I bought it from in 2001 had various names in different years, showing the identical image.  Figs are complicated, in so e cases the same fig can have many names and in other cases different figs can have the same name.

I did a duckduckgo web search on "hearty chicago" fig and did not find any links. It's true, I may have missed it or that other web search engine might bring up different info.

All of the could be true about Agristart originating a name and back story for Hardy Chicago, but I couldn't find verification.  It doesn't matter to me, my interest is in how it grows, produces, and tastes regardless of the origin of its name.

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FruitGardener
Vista, CA, USA
22 Posts
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49
March 19, 2022 - 5:41 pm

The motivation for my post was to point out that one should take the name "Hardy" with a grain of salt.

The only cultivars I'm aware of that have truly been cultivated in cooler climates for centuries are USDA accessions 146, 147 - although the genetic evidence indicates one is a sport of the other.

If you are interested in coarse genetic relationships between cultivars acquired from the USDA repository, see the diagrams in figures 1 & 2 of this publication, and the distance color legend for Figure 8.

https://journals.plos.org/plos.....ne.0263715

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
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50
March 19, 2022 - 6:47 pm

No problem.  

My Hardy Chicago does OK down to about 15F.  Young greenish shoots can be killed at that temperature.  Actually, we've had brief freezes down to that range and none of my fig trees were killed although some young growth was killed.  I'm not sure of the exact temperatures.   Certainly not Midwest or Northeast level cold.

One additional reference for Hardy Chicago - it had that name in the 1970s, according to Edible Landscaping webpage. Here is a link to that report, and a quote.   

"Hardy Chicago ripens its figs from August until fall frost and will have some fruit in July. Has produced as many as 100 pints of figs in one season. Does extremely well in NC and we send this one to enthusiasts up north, because of its early fruiting tendency. Success will vary with every location, so be sure to give it the warmest, most protected place. It's our best fig and came to our attention in the 1970's when cuttings for propagation came from Fred Borne, a North American Fruit Explorer member. Cuttings were supplied to him from a man from Chicago with a "U" shaped house, from a bush he had protected for some years. Without protection the mature bushes top would die back from winter cold, but sprouted from the roots and ripened some figs at the end of the season. Most fig varieties do not share this trait."

If true, that predates the existence Agristart.   So maybe they changed the name to "Hearty", but that was not the original name (Bensonhurst Purple, if anything and probably something entirely different in Sicily where it originated - maybe "That fig tree on Mt. Etna with the dark figs", only in Italian).  Fruit trees get renamed all of the time, very confusing.

I agree that the word "Hardy" in this case does not indicate the same hardiness as a typical Zone 4,5,6 plant, by any stretch.

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FruitGardener
Vista, CA, USA
22 Posts
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51
March 19, 2022 - 7:00 pm

The handwritten donation record from E.L. to USDA reads Hearty.

BTW, AgriStarts did not start offering fig TCs until circa 2003. I believe their 1st entry was Ischia (green version).

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jafar
582 Posts
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52
March 20, 2022 - 11:38 am

Daniel, what color is the flesh of your Lattarula?

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FruitGardener
Vista, CA, USA
22 Posts
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53
March 24, 2022 - 8:00 pm

Tissue Cultures aka TCs

TCs are plants grown from cell samples that are biologically tricked into being embryonic. The first generation will be true to original type and usually virus-free. The follow-on generations (TCs of TCs) have a tendency to "drift" from the original type. Robust breeders (e.g. Monrovia) maintain original plant stock to avoid this problem.

AgriStarts Inc. was the first U.S. company to offer TC figs to the plant industry c. 2003. They have since become the dominant source of fig plants sold to the retail trade. In the process, AgriStarts changed the names of some plants (e.g. King to Desert King, Hearty Chicago to Hardy Chicago). Consequently retailers began using the new names and most no longer maintain inventory of the original non-TC versions.

Infant fig TCs are sold as "small trees" by a few retailers (e.g. Edible Landscaping, Wellspring Gardens). These should be repotted into at least gallon size containers and then slowly progressed from outdoor shade to full outdoor sun and remain outdoors year-round. This is the process used by commercial nurseries.

There is a myth circulating among home fig growers that TCs will not fruit. It likely originated from persons in less-temperate climates who raised infant TCs indoors for a significant portion of the year. In 2018-19 the entire catalog of AgriStarts figs was obtained as infant TCs in Vista CA. These were raised solely outdoors in 1 gallon pots with automated irrigation. By the end of 2021 all had produced fruit.

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
(Offline)
54
March 24, 2022 - 8:57 pm

FruitGardener said
Tissue Cultures aka TCs

...  AgriStarts Inc. was the first U.S. company to offer TC figs to the plant industry c. 2003. They have since become the dominant source of fig plants sold to the retail trade. In the process, AgriStarts changed the names of some plants (e.g. King to Desert King, Hearty Chicago to Hardy Chicago). Consequently retailers began using the new names and most no longer maintain inventory of the original non-TC versions....

  

Desert King was listed as a synonym for King  on  Ray's Figs, copyright 1997, 1998, 1999. source

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DanielW
Clark County, WA
519 Posts
(Offline)
55
March 24, 2022 - 9:00 pm

jafar said
Daniel, what color is the flesh of your Lattarula?

  

Jafar, it's a tan color.  The flesh in my King fig is more pink-ish.

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FruitGardener
Vista, CA, USA
22 Posts
(Offline)
56
March 24, 2022 - 9:03 pm

That's true about Ray's list. However, wholesale growers of orchard and nursery stock were using King until 2005-2010. I was a wholesale customer at the time.

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jafar
582 Posts
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57
April 8, 2022 - 1:22 pm

@DanielW 

Okay, that sounds right for Lattarula.  Somebody gave me a fig tree at a HOS event, I thought it may have been you.  I have it labeled Lattarula, but it has fruited and the flesh is pink.  Looks like Lattarola, which I didn't know was a distinct cultivar until trying to figure this out.  

If the temporary tag had said Lattarola, I would have assumed it a mis-spell of Lattarula and "corrected" it.

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Reinettes
Lewis Co., WA
373 Posts
(Offline)
58
April 10, 2022 - 7:39 pm

This is interesting to read....  When I'm in the literature -- especially the apple lit -- I often find lists of "other names" that the clones were known by at earlier times.  Trying to find the original, or "accurate" name, and/or origin can take one onto a maelstrom of literature.  

To some degree, I can understand how some of those other, alternate names can originate.  For example, my neighbor across the road doesn't know the names old the old apples in his his yard, which were planted even before his mother and father lived there.  There's one at the front of his property next to the road that I strongly "think" is 'Winesap', but I don't know.  For the time being I'm referring to it as 'Callahan Red" unless and until I can verify its true identity.  I'm positive that it is the seed parent of a hybrid with the Malus fusca native crabapple on our opposing side of the road on the front of our property.  I only discovered it in 2020 and called it 'Claythwaite'.  ...I collected a dormant scion of "Callahan Red" to graft, but until I verify that it is in fact 'Winesap', I'll know it as 'Callahan Red'.

Likewise, at the edge of the woods on local State Route 508 not far east from the north/south Jackson Highway here in Lewis County, I collected a scion from an old, tortured apple tree that can only put out about 1 to 1-1/2 inch of growth each year.  I "think" that it is 'Chehalis'.  However, until my 'Chehalis' apple and this other clone mature, flower, and produce fruit in the same year for detailed comparison, I'll continue to have it labelled undo the tentative name "Chehalis Moon".  These are just "clonal handholds" for the interim.  I can understand, though, how some clones get mis-named, or RE-named.  I find it a bit unscrupulous when growers simply choose to give their own epithet to a variety that they're offering, as though it may be unique and new, but they just simply don't know the true name and don't bother trying to find it.  That being said, some plants get given to others for propagation, but I find that humans tend to have a limited interest in maintaining the names for the plants that they acquire from friends or acquaintances and aren't all that interested.  

Hence, various names for a particular clonal variety along the way over time.  Perhaps, gradually, molecular studies will help to identify some of these clones as to their original names, or at least those names that were the earliest recorded.  

Ah, the joys of horticulture! Smile

Reinettes.

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jafar
582 Posts
(Offline)
59
April 27, 2022 - 3:57 pm

FruitGardener said
Tissue Cultures aka TCs

TCs are plants grown from cell samples that are biologically tricked into being embryonic. The first generation will be true to original type and usually virus-free. The follow-on generations (TCs of TCs) have a tendency to "drift" from the original type. Robust breeders (e.g. Monrovia) maintain original plant stock to avoid this problem.

AgriStarts Inc. was the first U.S. company to offer TC figs to the plant industry c. 2003. They have since become the dominant source of fig plants sold to the retail trade. In the process, AgriStarts changed the names of some plants (e.g. King to Desert King, Hearty Chicago to Hardy Chicago). Consequently retailers began using the new names and most no longer maintain inventory of the original non-TC versions.

Infant fig TCs are sold as "small trees" by a few retailers (e.g. Edible Landscaping, Wellspring Gardens). These should be repotted into at least gallon size containers and then slowly progressed from outdoor shade to full outdoor sun and remain outdoors year-round. This is the process used by commercial nurseries.

There is a myth circulating among home fig growers that TCs will not fruit. It likely originated from persons in less-temperate climates who raised infant TCs indoors for a significant portion of the year. In 2018-19 the entire catalog of AgriStarts figs was obtained as infant TCs in Vista CA. These were raised solely outdoors in 1 gallon pots with automated irrigation. By the end of 2021 all had produced fruit.

  

Fascinating post. Thanks for sharing.  I overlooked this earlier.  Also glad to have you in this forum, I usually try to welcome folks when I see a first or early post, but don't recall doing so for you.  Welcome 🙂 

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Rooney
Vancouver SW Washington
647 Posts
(Offline)
60
May 16, 2022 - 2:13 pm

  < -- click here to enlarge

The image is hosted from a currently active Craigslist add of Portland and seems to be advertised from a reputable neighborhood of our area on the Portland side.

What attracted my attention to include this here is because it's the biggest fig fruit pictured yet on this page. Another thing that seems attractive about discussing figs in a particularly poor fruit pollinating year is that I think things like figs are not tied to inclement weather situations that we have had recently. So I hope somebody can pick one up and report the seller location. If that happens just PM myself and I'll make an effort to visit that place later this year for more visual information.

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number2
Portland Metro
5 Posts
(Offline)
61
May 18, 2022 - 9:27 pm

I asked on the growingfruit.org forum and someone identified the mystery giant fig as 'Olympian'. 

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Dubyadee
Puyallup, Washington, USA
219 Posts
(Offline)
62
August 26, 2022 - 7:50 pm

I picked about 120 figs from my Desert King tree yesterday. Probably another 200 on there to ripen. I like to see the end opening up and syrup dripping out, those are the sweetest. Mother-in-law took this picking for dehydrating. Figs and blueberries are my biggest producers this year. Apples, plums, and pears didn’t set much crop. 

A33498FB-1978-4B14-8AD1-FC19AB25DD90.jpeg

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jafar
582 Posts
(Offline)
63
August 28, 2022 - 7:19 am

I don't really care for commercially dried figs, which are all I've had, I think.  If my production gets anywhere close to that, perhaps I'll try it.

I like dried stone fruit.  When I was a kid, I never liked dried pears or apples.  But a few years ago we peeled and dried bosc pears, and they were outstanding.  That experience makes me seriously question some of my previous conclusions about what is good dried.

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cmullin
Philomath, OR
58 Posts
(Offline)
64
August 28, 2022 - 8:50 am

Jafar,( or anyone who dries fruit)

What method do you use to dry them. The sun or a dehydrator or something else?

 

Chris

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Dubyadee
Puyallup, Washington, USA
219 Posts
(Offline)
65
August 28, 2022 - 4:48 pm

I have a four tray circular dehydrator. For figs I  cut off part of the stem and bottom and cut them into quarters. If they’re really syrupy I slit one side and just lay it out flat. For apples I use a peeler/corer and spiral cut the apples and then one slice with a knife to make crescents. I tie back the peeler to leave the peel on the apples. The slices pack into the tray better if half-moon shape. I put three layers of apple slices on each tray and sprinkle a small amount of sugar cinnamon mix on each layer.  Trays are full and touching bottom of next tray up. It takes about 24 hours to dry a batch. Stuff the trays full because they shrink a lot. Apples will be soft when warm but turn crispy after cooling. Store in Tupperware or good ziplock bags. I froze the figs after drying, I maybe didn’t need to. 

photo of figs in trays. 

10259A41-EC1D-465D-9B10-CCD0E5A74DCB.jpeg

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jafar
582 Posts
(Offline)
66
August 29, 2022 - 4:33 pm

@Dubyadee , please share a picture of the dried figs

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Dubyadee
Puyallup, Washington, USA
219 Posts
(Offline)
67
September 2, 2022 - 7:35 pm

My mother-in-law dried a batch and took before and after pictures. 

before:

893D9EF6-0559-4584-A004-7B3B9D4DA1E0.jpeg

after:

43518FEF-E0BA-492A-9E4D-50D64156FE73.jpeg

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