Figs have an almost magical appeal to me. The only time I enjoyed them growing up, was during Christmas, when dried figs were available in the grocery store (where I lived, in northern Europe.) As a teenager I went on a trip to Greece with one of my friends. While exploring a secluded beach, we saw a beautiful tree high up on a cliff. We had no idea what kind of tree it was, but climbed up there to look at the tree. It took a good 30 min to climb up to the tree. We were well rewarded for our effort. As you probably guessed, it was a fig tree, full of ripe, delicious, juicy figs. That was the first time I tasted a fresh fig. My mouth starts to water just thinking about it today, 20 years later. We sat under the fig tree for several hours, until the heat of the day passed. We ate a lot of figs. My friend took his shirt of, using it as a bag, and packed it full of figs. Before the last rays of sun disappeared, we slowly climbed down with our treasure.
I live in California now, and fig trees love our mediterranean climate. (The climate in our valley is actually very similar to the climate in Greece, where I first got a taste for this delicacy.) There’s so many different kinds of fig trees, and almost all of them like it here. My daughter loves figs as much as I do. We eat them fresh, when they are in season. They have a very short shelf life though, and we freeze most of the figs we can’t eat. We just freeze them as they are, separate, on a tray. When they are frozen solid, I put them in bags, or small boxes with lids. That way they are easy to thaw, one by one. The freezing process crystallizes the sugar in them, so without adding sugar, they become even sweeter, when they are frozen. I serve the figs halfway-thawed as desert, or a treat. It’s absolutely delicious. Many guests have asked how I make this wonderful desert I serve, and almost don’t believe when I say that it’s only one fig, nothing else added. Sometimes I serve them with cheese and crackers, use them in baking, or make preserves of them. Figs are packed with nutrients, and they are considered to be a super food. They have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and cancer fighting properties. Figs have lots of fiber, and are rich in minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper, and are a good source of antioxidant, vitamins A, E and K. As if the delicious taste itself wasn’t enough.
My fascination with figs, and fig trees, have led me into experimenting growing different varieties. I’ve planted figs the traditional way, in the ground, but I also grow them in containers. If you have a place big enough to plant a fig tree in the ground, by all means, go for it! A fig tree can grow up to around 30 ft, and bear fruit for a couple hundred years. It thrives best if it has plenty of space, and full sun. You could give a legacy to your grandkids, and their grand kids. If your space is limited, fig trees thrive in containers, and this big tree, is much easier to handle when trained to be in a container. Animals tend to love figs, and when you grow them in containers, it’s easier to protect them. No one want to give their whole harvest away. Growing figs in a container also allow people that don’t have much space to have a fig tree, or two. You could even have one at your balcony in the city. If you live where the weather isn’t very mediterranean like, you can move your fig trees indoors during winter, if you grow them in containers.
A two year old fig tree, grown from a cutting of a friend’s fig tree. This fig tree is planted in a smart pot (made out of fabric.) This was how I used to plant all my trees. This season I’ve started to plant my (bigger) fruit trees in self watering pots, as an effort to preserve water. The new cuttings will go into self watering pots, when they have roots.
I believe that container gardening, is a growing movement, and I’m all in. For me it’s perfect. I don’t own the place I currently live at, but I still love to have fruit trees. When using containers it is easier to fight off pests, insects, and to efficiently feed your plant/tree the nutrients it needs. The trees in the experiment below are meant to be for container gardening.
You probably already know that I homeschool my daughter. The theme of our latest school project was; Trees. In this theme my daughter and I learned to identify local trees, learned about their place in the eco system, planted trees, propagated trees, and learned about what a tree needs to thrive. We tried three different ways of fig propagation, (growing a new tree from cuttings.) The methods are similar, but not exactly the same. I wanted to see what method is most efficient. If you have a fig tree you like, or maybe your neighbor, or your friend have one, you could try this yourself. They are all very simple methods. Before starting I’d like to say that you can grow roots really fast by placing cuttings in a glass of water, but those roots are never as strong, as the roots you get from placing them in a medium like soil. I’ve already discovered that in previous experiments. If you want a strong, healthy tree, high quality soil is the way to go.
These are cuttings from a fig tree, that I simply put in a regular pot, filled with soil from my compost. I keep the cuttings in the shade outside, until they get leaves. When they get leaves, they have a root system, and they get to be in the sun. We have warm temperatures now, the night’s don’t get under 50 F, and the days have a high of 80-85. If it was colder I would start them inside, in a window with filtered light. The fig two year old fig tree, in a smart pot (in the photo higher up,) was started this way.
This is basically the same idea, but I covered it with a bag, to make a mini green house. I have tried this before, with good results.
I have never tried the third method before. I stumbled upon this video on Youtube, and naturally I had to try! Watch the video, and tell me what you think.
This is what the third method looks like, from a distance.
The purpose with this project is to see which method, of these three, that produces the strongest roots, in the shortest amount of time. I’m so excited! I can’t wait to see the results! We planted a total of 30 cuttings, to have a decent number of trees to compare. I will keep you posted about the progress.
What’s happening in your garden right now? Any fun plans for the weekend?