What is new at Figs 4 Fun


It is my hope to be able to make periodic contributions here which reflect my ongoing experiences and experiments with figs. I have scaled down nursery operations and I am more focused on meeting the plant needs of local customers and putting more emphasis on education and demonstration for those people. This will get me closer to my roots and passion.

March 2023

One month after pinching off the terminal bud.
One month after pinching off the terminal bud, second look.

February 2023

Because of apical dominance, the top most or terminal bud is the most likely to break dormancy. This is often the only bud that grows on each branch.
By removing the apical or terminal bud, the next lower bud becomes dominant, and several buds will now become more equal in dominance and often several buds will now break dormancy resulting in multiple branches. Encouraging branching is another reason, in addition to tree size control, for pruning trees.

January 2023

Here in paradise, winter and dormancy are different than most places. Even identical trees have different responses to what we call winter. Here are several identical plants of Vista. Some are fully dormant and some are far from it.
Cali Maria before pruning, with about 8 feet of growth last season. This was labeled as Calimyrna, and clearly is not. Interestingly, whatever it is, it sets fruit in Spetember and ripens between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Wonderful flavor.
The same Cali Maria tree after pruning, and now is 7-1/2 feet shorter.
A warm winter, some rain, and a couple days of sun and my fig plants begin waking up in January. Many are not yet dormant or hardened off, but it is time for a new season to begin anyway.

December 2022

Two days till Christmas and a few figs are still waiting to ripen. Warm spring led to a shorter, quicker season in 2022, but there are still some stragglers.
Some early cold weather this season has many trees dormant earlier than usual for San Diego. Warm winter in 2021-2022 left many trees still holding leaves into spring.
Warm weather in November has some trees breaking dormancy, already.
I took many pix of experiments and such during the last couple of seasons which didn't get uploaded to the blog yet. Will get them processed in the coming months and fill in missing updates for 2021 and 2022.

January 2021

This is my Vista/Violette de Bordeaux. Last summer we had a temperature spike of about 20F for a couple days. This caused the top portion of the tree to defoliate, and regrow, while the lower portion kept its leaves. Many trees in San Diego had a similar reaction.
The top portion of the tree defoliated and regrew. On January 15, it still has leaves and fruit and looks more like September, and shows no hint of going dormant.
The lower portion of the tree did not defoliate and dropped its leaves a few weeks ago much like a normal year. A long warm fall did push dormancy back some, but in our Mediterranean climate dormancy is always later than most other regions.
Pruning Experiment. These are two identical trees grown from identical cuttings from the same tree, that are 2 years old and about 48" tall. I intend to prune one back when it goes dormant, and wait to prune the second one till after bud break in the spring. Anecdotal evidence suggests the spring-pruned tree will have more branching.
I have some cuttings that I rooted in the spring and potted up. They have spent the summer, fall and almost half of winter in the green house, and are finally, 10 months later, breaking buds.
I actually still have cuttings in the refrigerator that have developed more growth than these in the greenhouse. Maybe this is a new rooting menthod. Also gives an indication of how long you might be able to keep cuttings in the frig.
In December, one of the extra-large cuttings, imitating a root-in-place orchard planting technique, finally broke its buds. That leaves only two more to go, which I hope will break their buds in the spring, because dormancy has arrived. They are still green.

November 2020

One of the extra large cuttings, 1-1/2" diameter and larger x 36", that I started early this spring is finally breaking its buds. It is the fifth one to do so. The last three continue to be green and viable, and may now wait until spring to flush growth as our long warm/hot fall finally ended on the 7th.
Beautiful fig, Violet Sepor, picked November seventh.
The flip side of this fig, ripening this late because of very extended summer season.
Violet Sepor picked less than three weeks before Thanksgiving and the flavor was still roll-on-the-floor-with-happiness stunningly good even this late in the season.

October 2020

My Calimyrna made no attempt to set fruit this season. No fruit formed that could be caprified. Then in late August, it started forming fruit, when I would expect no wasp activity, and thus no caprification.
Fast forward to the first week of October and the fruit is ripening. We have had an incredibly long, hot Indian summer this year. This fruit is fabulous. I have no idea how it could have been caprified this late in the season, but I am enjoying it immensely.
I visited USDA/UC Davis Wolfskill Experimental Orchard back in August. Was not able to finishing photographing the collection because of the LNU Complex fire that came within about 1 mile of the orchard. This was Wednesday morning, near the orchard. All access was restricted because of the nearness of the fire.

September 2020

One of the stars this season: Golden Celeste. Wait until is is really limp and ugly and it is as close to strawberry jam as any fig I have tasted. Large and heavy. Started early and is still producing 8 weeks later.
Chico Strawberry: a different fig in many ways. Smallish, with a long neck. Sweet, complex flavor, and suprisingly chewy.
Another definite star this season: Violet Sepor. A picture is worth a thousand words in this case.
Raja S2, which will get a permanent name later, is the second in a group of seedlings to produce a seriously good fruit. Not a pretty fig, in contrast to it's sibling Uttaree Raajah, but great complex flavor inside its plain exterior.
Paradiso Bronze. Very prolific. Has had a long season and is still producing at the end of September. Another "picture says it all variety." When fully ripe, some were splitting their skins.
Split of the year. Raja S2. It had not been splitting until this one outlier.
I started with 8 of these 3 foot cuttings. Five have now sprouted vegetative growth, the first in early July and the 5th at the end of September. The remaining 3 are still green, but show no sign of growth. They may be slower to break dormancy, or may have no viable buds. Time will tell.
We have had a very hot summer, starting in the middle of August and which will continue into October. These extended, above normal temperatures have reawakened many plants, including things other than figs, such as citrus and asian pears, and have inspired a second flush of new growth this season.
Graft, showing new growth pushing through the parafilm and the parafilm is disintegratng and does not need to be removed. The green nursery tape will be removed when dormancy arrives.
One of this season's grafts growing well. It was a tip cutting which seems to have aided in rapid new growth. Fruit is also forming, and was removed.

August 2020

It is fig season! The first figs ripened in the third week of July and with August came an acceleration of different varieties getting ripe.
This is Chico Strawberry from the former Richard Watts collection. Not very showy in looks but has a very bright flavor and a nice chewy skin/rind.
This was an unknown, supposedly from Palestine, named Aama. Turned out to be a veteran: White Marseilles.
I had forgotten about this variety. It has a very soft skin, like a Hardy Chicago, and a nice tapioca flavor with a caramel finish. Happy I rediscovered it.
This is Lungo del Portogallo from the Gene Hosey Collection. Grows like a weed and is a heavy producer.
The flavor was kind of flat in its first season but has matured well this year. Juicy with a rich, sweet flavor. The only drawback is the large eye.
This is my Vista, which still outshines all the other Violette de Bordeauxs. Maybe it was our wet winter, but the fruit is hanging in clusters this season. A heat spike about the first of the month really initiated ripening.
I never get tired of taking pictures of Vista and I never get tired of eating them. This was my first "10" and it is still the one to meet or beat.
This is Garnsey White Seedless. Two figs that grew together, or maybe "Siamese" twins. One side is larger than the other, and skin texture is different.
Showing two ostioles, indicating the presence of two figs.
Finally, it appears that one fig was caprified and the other was not, explaining the difference in skin texture, fig size, and interior flesh color. And a huge bump in flavor.
Watching my Garnsey White Seedless has yielded this observation this season: the figs are not ripening in order from first formed (furthest from branch tip) to newest (closest to branch tip) which is the usual order. Instead the ones that were caprified, and located randomly along the branch, are ripening first and the others show no sign of ripening yet. The exception is the "twin" fig shown above, where the uncaprified fig did ripen, probably induced by the caprified twin.
I was advised that the two figs shown above were "fasciated" meaning that the two stems were banded or compacted together or fused.

July 2020

Root development on large cutting, which was rooted in a 4" x 12" tall pot.
Roots and vegetative growth.
Large cuttings potted up to 5 gallon pots and growing well. I have potted up more than 2 dozen so far. They appear to be much more energetic that a small cutting, and I expect them to produce a larger tree much more quickly. A typical 1/2" cutting would not have grown to this size by now.
Results of grafting.
Development of chipbud graft.
I unwarpped this graft because it was not showing vegetative growth and I though it might have failed. The small scion piece is healed to the rootstock, and you can see the green bud, but it hasn't begun vegetative growth. More time will tell.
This is one of the extra large cuttings I am attempting to root. It is the first to break dormancy. For reasons unknown these large cuttings tend to break multiple buds and not just the apical bud.
A second one is just beginning to break buds, and two more have at least one bud swelling. The rest are unchanged so far, though clearly still green/alive. I suspect that this particular variety is slower to root and grow. Small cuttings of the same variety are equally fussy.
Breba figs growing like a grape cluster. Sadly, this seedling turned out to be a caprifig. Looks like it will be getting stumped next year similar to the one I did this year, and then grafted into a multi-variety tree in 2022.
I read an interesting note about parthenocarpy in figs in Ira Condit's book, The Fig, page 40. "Some figs classed as Common type are incompletely parthenoparpic:" meaning that they only set a portion of their crop without caprification. This would explain figs that sometimes appear to be almost like Smyrna types, dropping most of their fruit and sometimes more like Common figs, or kind of half and half.

June 2020

Here is a NEW LINK to The Fig by Ira Condit. The old online book has disappeared.

I didn't have enough wood to make a wedge graft, so did a modified chip bud graft by cutting the bud off the scion and then cutting a matching notch in the root stock, and wrapping it with green nursery tape for about 6 weeks until it was healed together. I then removed the nursery tape and retied it only above and below the graft, leaving the bud exposed and free to sprout.
The bud is beginning to sprout. This is a weaker joint than the wedge graft because it is only connected a few cells thick at the union. The new growth will need to be supported for the first year until the graft union forms more and thicker wood. It is an alternative way to graft when there is limited amount of scion, but, unlike a T-bud, it does not require the the bark be "slipping".
The new buds and growth will easily penetrate through the parafilm, so there is no need to remove it.
After the graft has healed together, the new growth will progress as if it was from a bud on an established plant.
There is no need to remove the green nursery tape. The graft union is very thin and tender at this stage. the nursery tape will help provide more strength through the first growing season. It will stretch enough to allow the plant to continue to expand.
Another example of bud break.
The stumping experiment is progressing quite well. You can see how the branching has formed from the three buds at the top of the stump.
In late May, the shoots are between 18" and 30". I had to tie them up because they were growing so quickly that they were too soft to support their own weight.
A couple weeks later they are growing exponentially.
The tops of the shoots have reached about 7-1/2' from the ground. The stump was a little less that 4' to begin with.
Large cutting experiment. This has been progressing well with some amazing results. Not all cuttings have progressed at the same rate, but some are growing so fast you can almost watch them do it.
Also intersesting is the size of the growth. Some of the growth is 3/8" or larger and appears to be more like growth on an established tree, rather than the lighter growth that often forms on small cuttings. Perhaps the large cuttings "think" they are part of a larger tree, or maybe just have more stored energy. This pix is about three weeks after the one above.
This third picture is the most agressive example (which happens to be a Paradiso).
The extra large cuttings I experimented with this season were stored upside down. This is a bundle of Panache cuttings which rooted like crazy. Most of the rest of the cuttings showed little or no root growth. However, as in the example of the Paradiso cutting above, many of the cuttings have exploded in growth.
The accidental espalier experiment continues. Growth from each node is now about 12" long. Those closest to the roots are somewhat longer, and those further from the roots are a bit shorter.
And finally, my entrant in the large leaf contest this season. More than 12" across.
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