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Subject: Today's haul Replies: 44
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,660
 
Several trees are now in full swing:
2014-07-16 figs_rdc.jpg 

Black Mission NL is delicious and is a shade larger than my other Black Mission, but my tree seems stunted and weak--perhaps due to its location. I may airlayer a branch and try it in another spot.

LSU Purple is just getting started; this is its fourth season in the ground (from sucker) and some of the figs taste okay, others are still blah. I'll try leaving them until they're ugly-ripe and see if that helps.

Georgia White Hybrid is a winner--very productive, sweet & juicy/jammy. No souring or bug problems (yet), rain or shine.

Conadria is quite similar to the GWH--I don't think I could tell the difference from the outside, but there's a bit more white flesh on the stem end of the GWH, and the flavor of the Conadria isn't quite as good, but it's close.

LSU Gold is turning into a disappointment. My tree, at least, isn't very productive, and sours quickly with a little rain. Only two figs in today's harvest hadn't soured. I'm beginning to think it's not very good for Tucson.

Violette de Bordeaux is just hitting its stride, and it's a great fig--rich flavor, beautiful red interior, very productive--there are so many figs clustered on the branch ends that it can be tricky to find enough finger-room to work the ripe ones loose without bruising them against the hard, unripe fruit. I did have a few (3) split badly in the last rain, but it's a small price to pay.

Tena is very productive, but I'm not wild about the fruit--it often seems to get sort of dried and wrinkled without ever getting fully ripe. A little rain seems to help a lot--then it gets quite yellow and sweeter.

LSU Improved Celeste is also very productive, but I find I'll usually eat something else when I have a choice. So, I'm drying all of them. In my yard, they seem prone to develop hard, tough patches near the base; I have no idea why.

Excel isn't bad, but now that I have several better options it seems kind of underwhelming.

Black Mission is very good in every respect, except I wish it was more productive, with a longer season. Most of the figs on mine have already ripened.

Hardy Chicago and Marseilles Black VS are at their peaks right now. The figs are rich with excellent flavor/color/texture. The figs are small and they only produce a fraction (by volume) of the yield of some of my other trees, but they're a nice addition. I can't detect any difference between them.

Ischia Green (not pictured) is still very young but has ripened a few fruit. The flavor is good when not soured by rain or bugs, but most have been sour. I'll give it another couple of years and see if it improves.

There's no way my family can eat this many fresh figs, so most went into the dehydrator. I'm experimenting with slicing them cross-ways, since some of them are so wide (I cut off the stem and then squish the fig gently between thumb and index finger to flatten it a bit before slicing). I like the round shape that results, although on the Conadria and GWH, sometimes the stem end ends up with almost none of the jammy interior. It's okay by me--both halves taste good. Here are how some of them look on the trays, ready for the dryer. The trays are 15" by 15."

Conadria & Excel_rdc.jpg

GWH_rdc.jpg   
Tena_rdc.jpg 
VdB, BM, HC, MBvs_rdc.jpg


Subject: Making dried figs Replies: 27
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 901
 
The dryer they get, the longer they'll last, but as has been pointed out, they can get too chewy if over-dried. I guess everybody has to find the right balance--I'm still learning, and picking up tips wherever I can. I personally tend to err on the side of being too dry, just to be safe. Even so, last year I dehydrated a batch of figs and sealed them into ziplocs, only to find some little moths crawling around in the bag a few weeks later--so now I put them in the freezer for a few days after drying just to try and kill any bug eggs that may have survived the dehydrator.

I got an old, used Excalibur with 9 plastic trays from a neighbor whose fruit trees ended up not yielding enough to bother with. It works great, but my wife noticed it gets drier on one side than the other, so for some fruits we rotate the trays 180 degrees halfway through. I'm really a fan of drying--it's so much easier than canning, and you can extend the harvest for as long as you have the self-discipline to keep rationing your snacks!

Subject: Making dried figs Replies: 27
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 901
 
I'm drying them too. I find that if I squeeze them a bit to flatten them a little before slicing them, they're a more uniform thickness and dry more evenly.

Subject: Why bother to grow your own? Replies: 10
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 548
 
Frank, the first fig tree I ever planted was an "Improved Brown Turkey" from a local nursery, and the figs were delicious--very sweet. I don't know if that was due to my hot, dry climate, or if the tree I bought was a different variety than the BT reviled by so many fig growers, but it would still rank high on my list of favorites if it hadn't been so susceptible to souring caused by tiny beetles entering through the open eye. For the first several years there was no problem, and then the bugs discovered it and I eventually had to take it out. In other ways, though, I thought it was excellent: highly productive, big figs, long season, and quite heat tolerant. The figs pictured in my avatar are from that tree.

Before destroying it, I sent a big airlayer to a F4F member who was interested in it, and now I'm wondering what he thought of it. Of course, his climate is different from mine, so it might be comparing apple to oranges (so to speak). Anyway, I just emailed him to ask if he had eaten any of its figs, so hopefully he'll let me know whether he liked them too.

Subject: Why bother to grow your own? Replies: 10
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 548
 
That's a somewhat facetious title for this topic, but in some areas you can get an amazing amount of figs, just for the asking. These are all "freebies" from a morning spent picking other people's figs:

2014-07-10 figs_edited-1.jpg 


Fellow F4F member and Tucsonan, Manny (Manel), had invited me to go with him to visit some local trees, and yesterday I got the grand tour. Having been a realtor here for many years, he really knows the area, as well as fig tree locations, and their owners. We did a few drive-bys without stopping, and then visited a beautifully maintained front yard tree at a small house next to an auto repair shop:

2014-07-10 Manny & Limberlost fig_edited-1.jpg 

He had gotten permission for us to pick as many figs as we wanted, so we loaded up; he even climbed up inside to reach a few high ones:

2014-07-10 Manny in Limberlost fig_edited-1.jpg 


We stopped before the bag became so heavy that the bottom figs would be crushed by the weight of those on top:

2014-07-10 Manny with Limberlost figs_edited-1.jpg 


The owner believes this is some type of Brown Turkey, but since it has a closed eye and is elongated, we thought it more likely to be a Black Mission. However, when I later compared the figs to those of my Black Mission at home, the ones Manny & I picked are smoother and shiny, and some have an internal cavity similar to a BT, and which I've never seen in a BM. Also, when not quite ripe, or well-shaded, some showed a lighter area around the stem, more like my old BT than my BM (although it does happen in BM too), so now I'm not sure what kind of tree it is. At any rate, the figs are delicious! The ones below are both from the same tree:

2014-07-10 Limberlost figs (whole)_edited-1.jpg 
2014-07-10 Limberlost fig (cut)_edited-1.jpg 


We then visited a small cafe with several fig trees planted at the entrance:

2014-07-10 Old Times figs_edited-1.jpg 


Some appear to be Kadotas, very sweet, with tougher skin and the occasional drop of honey in the eye:

2014-07-10 Old Times yellow fig_edited-1.jpg 


There were also some large, Bronze-colored figs we didn't recognize, which were also very good:

2014-07-10 Old Times brown fig (side)_edited-1.jpg 
2014-07-10 Old Times brown fig_edited-1.jpg 

All in all, it was a lot of fun, and more fruit for a morning's work than I'll get from my own trees for quite some time. Thanks very much, Manny!


Subject: Today's haul Replies: 44
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,660
 
Shah8, it depends on the weather. Prior to our rainy season, the Tenas don't really seem to get fully ripe; instead they get a tough, tan, sunburned patch on top, and are just passable in flavor. After the rain starts they turn yellow and stop burning, and are much sweeter, however, if it rains a lot, then they split. At least in my yard, the IC isn't as sweet, but it's a good fig. I'd probably rather have it than Tena, because the IC seems to tolerate the climate better. Both are heavy producers.

Subject: Clusters of Cajun Gold Replies: 24
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,196
 
Thanks Gene, I'll email you.

Subject: Bird problem solved--at least for now Replies: 38
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,625
 
Thanks JD--the LSUIC you sent me is thriving!

Katerina, I don't know of any effective bird remedy that would look good to your neighbors--unless maybe you offered to share some of the resulting fruit with them! However, for individual trees, a temporary tent of bird netting on a PVC frame might work--especially if you used black netting and dark gray PVC (sold as electrical conduit rather than for irrigation), since it would be less visually-obtrusive than my bright green mesh or the white pipe. Home Depot or the equivalent has it all for not-too-much money.

Subject: Today's haul Replies: 44
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,660
 
Jdsfrance, all of those figs are from just one Black Mission, in the photo below. I also have a small Black Mission NL, but it's still small and struggling. I don't think it's a problem with the tree, but with the location--I may airlayer a branch of it and try it in a new spot. The BMNL produces the biggest and tastiest fruit, but the whole tree only has about 10 figs on it.

Here is the Black Mission, somewhat damaged and stunted by several hard freezes over the years, but still very productive (although it has a fairly short season):
Blk Mission w paper shields.jpg 
It is my only fig tree located outside the big cage, so I have to protect each fig individually by clothes-pinning a newspaper shield around it and its adjacent leaf (like the "cone of shame" worn by dogs after a visit to the vet). There's also a branch protected by a little left-over netting from the big cage--I'll probably build a PVC netting frame for this one tree next year, so as not to have to mess with all that newspaper.

Gene, I got my LSUIC from JD in 2012, and as far as I know, that's what it is. The tree is still only 3 1/2 feet high by as wide, but is very healthy and productive. I should have included it on my earlier list of healthy trees.

Lampo, yes they do go dormant--we occasionally get winter lows in the upper teens. Unfortunately, I usually have to force dormancy by cutting off the irrigation in late fall, or they will still be green and growing when frost hits--which really damages them.

Aaron, I agree with Katerina about Conadria. I decided to buy it after talking with a cooperative extension guy in an adjacent county, who raved about his. It took a couple of years to get going, but it seems very good for the desert.

Thanks, All, for your comments.



Subject: Today's haul Replies: 44
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,660
 
Frank, I like Excel but don't find it particularly outstanding. I've planted a variety of different figs mostly to see which ones work best in my area. I may not keep them all once I can evaluate them based on their long-term experience. They all seem to have drawbacks and advantages. Like everybody else, I'm looking for flavor, high production over a long season, good adaptation to local climate & soil, size, pest resistance, etc. I've had the Black Mission longest--probably around 18 years. I bought it and a Brown Turkey about the same time; the BT was prolific but after several years proved unsuitable because the open eye and internal void led to souring, due to insect activity--so I began looking for closed-eye varieties to take its place. That's when I discovered F4F and the dizzying number of figs out there. I kicked off my "collecting phase" in 2010 with a sizable UCD order and with beginner's luck had many of them survive; the rest of my figs came from subsequent trades and sharing from generous forum members and friends. I've discarded a few trees on purpose, had others die or perform poorly, and seen a few thrive; several are still too young for me to form an opinion.

Greenbud, my family eats quite a few figs, but I also share them with friends and dry them. I haven't made jam. All of my trees are still pretty small, either due to pruning or young age. Even the Black Mission is only 6 or 7 feet high having suffered a lot of frost damage, and looks more like a bush than a tree.

Katerina, I missed your response earlier. I don't think I'm doing anything special with my trees. I give them mulch, water, and not much else. I occasionally throw some fertilizer (whatever I happen to have on hand) under them if they look like they need it (mostly the Black Madeira, which remains stunted with FMV) but I don't notice much of a response. Mainly they want all the water I can give them.

After a few years, the ones that look healthiest/lushest in my yard are the Georgia White Hybrid, LSU Purple, Black Mission, Violette de Bordeaux, Hardy Chicago, and Marseilles Black VS (I can't tell any difference between the last two); others look promising but are still young. The differences in performance could be due to something as simple as local soil conditions--even moving a few feet can mean huge variations in the number of rocks or the depth of an impermeable caliche layer. Or, variations in watering, shade from adjacent trees, or who-knows-what-else could account for how my trees differ--I don't think it's all necessarily due to the variety.

Subject: Today's haul Replies: 44
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,660
 
My taste buds aren't very sophisticated, so I can't give you a very detailed assessment. To me the Georgia White Hybrid is sweet and juicy with a very delicate skin. It's one of my favorites, and seems similar to Conadria.

Subject: Today's haul Replies: 44
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,660
 
Who knows--maybe the heat? Frozen Joe's trees up in Phoenix were ripening several weeks earlier than mine, and Phoenix is usually about ten degrees hotter than Tucson.

Subject: Today's haul Replies: 44
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,660
 
Fig season is coming along nicely in Tucson! 2014 July 9.jpg 

Subject: Clusters of Cajun Gold Replies: 24
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,196
 
Great looking fig, Gene. It looks pretty prolific--do they all tend to ripen over a short time, or is it a fairly long season?

Subject: Breakfast and Dinner Replies: 19
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 678
 
Very nice, Joe! How are your LSU Purples, and how old is the tree? My first one of the season ripened the other day, and it was pretty good--but last year there was almost no flavor. My tree was started from a sucker in 2011.

Subject: Bird problem solved--at least for now Replies: 38
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,625
 
It took all the king's horses and men, but the netting is sewed back together and re-installed. If it gets destroyed again in the next storm, this will probably be my last try with this lightweight mesh. Despite the manufacturer's claims, it is quite easy to tear. In an attempt to protect it from the wind, I reinforced it with "belts" of 50 lbs test Dacron multi-filament fishline, kind of like the hoops of a covered wagon--so when the wind pulls up on the netting, hopefully the fishline will help hold it down. I also stretched some of the same fishline around the perimeter, at the bottom of the netting, and used about 400 clothespins to clip the netting to the fishline, which, in turn, is connected to the low fenceposts every 7.5 feet. The last version was only attached at the posts, and all of those connections tore through the netting. I'm hoping that by adding so many more attachment points it will spread out the load and be less apt to fail at any one spot.

Of the 20 or so varieties of fig trees inside the cage, ten are currently ripe--and after a few frenzied days of free lunch, the birds are very disappointed to find the cafe is once again closed. May it stay that way!

back in busines.jpg 


Subject: Bird problem solved--at least for now Replies: 38
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,625
 
Fort Fig looks great, Gene--that larger mesh is perfect if you don't have tiny birds! It's strong enough and the openings are large enough that there's very little wind resistance. Nice job!

Subject: Bird problem solved--at least for now Replies: 38
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,625
 
Well, despite my "crossed fingers," we got hit by another storm this evening, with higher winds, which tore most of the netting off the cage. I can't tell if there's much serious damage yet because one end of the netting is stuck up high in a mesquite tree, and there's still enough lightning in the area that I'm not eager to climb up an aluminum ladder. I can see at least a couple of significant rips, though--hopefully they'll be mendable, but it appears the battle is never really won!

storm damage.jpg 


Subject: Bird problem solved--at least for now Replies: 38
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,625
 
Thanks Gene, I'm glad to hear the cage is working out for you. I'd love to see your set-up as well--it sounds like you have a good size. Maybe you can post pictures if you're so inclined. Please let me know if you're ever out our way again!

Subject: Bird problem solved--at least for now Replies: 38
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,625
 
The poles/support cable rigging goes up before the netting is installed. Next comes the two end walls, which are separate rectangles of netting, more or less permanently "sewed" to the cables. The top and sides consist of one big rectangle pulled up and over the support cables (like draping a tablecloth over a table), fastened with clothespins along the four vertical corner cables and along the top, horizontal cable at both ends. Along the bottom edges of the two long side walls, I used wire hooks to attach it to the low chicken wire fence, which it overlaps by about 6 inches.

If you're interested, at some point I can take close-ups here and there to show some of the details, such as the doorway, cable connections, etc. Although my cage is fairly large, it would be simple to build something just big enough to cover only a tree or two, or a few more. If you had a size in mind (L x W x H) I'd be happy to tell you how I would approach it.

Subject: Bird problem solved--at least for now Replies: 38
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,625
 
Aaron, I am planning to take it down after the Fuyu Persimmons are harvested, around Christmas. It will go back up around late April, in time to protect the early peaches. The netting is comparatively inexpensive (a little over 2 cents a square foot), but you have to buy it in large quantities. The roll I bought was 13' wide by 820' long (enough to do my cage twice), for about $250. The manufacturer claims (http://www.amigoni.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=101&Category_Code=BNSM) it's UV stable for 3-4 years, but I'm skeptical about it lasting that long. We'll see. I think the 1/2" x 1/2" black plastic netting sold by Home Depot is better, but I couldn't find large enough rolls (seaming it together is laborious) or a wholesale price.

Rafaelissimmo's small PVC cage is a great solution if you have just a few trees. If you don't need to cover a lot of them, then the Home Depot route may be your most cost-effective option. Any framework that allows easy access for picking, and holds the netting away from the fruit/leaves (keeping it fairly flat so the birds don't get all tangled up) should work better than simply draping it directly over the trees.

We had our first monsoon storm yesterday; high winds and heavy rain, but no damage to the cage. I picked a nice bowl of figs this morning without any bird droppings or holes pecked in them. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everything will continue working well and that I'll be able to get several seasons out of the cage.

Subject: heat and VdB Replies: 20
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 807
 
You might try placing it in a shallow tray with an inch of water so there's always plenty for the roots to take up. You might need to refill it occasionally during the day.

Subject: Let's talk traps Replies: 36
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,140
 
Yikes! I'll stick with our big, clumsy beetles, thank you very much. At least they aren't venomous, are only around for a few weeks in summer (the rest of the time they're underground as big white grubs), and the only way they're apt to bite is if you're foolish enough to stick a finger within reach of their mandibles.

Subject: Let's talk traps Replies: 36
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,140
 
I noticed my trusty Havahart trap was closed this morning. Expecting to see a pack rat, I was surprised to find I had caught a paloverde root borer beetle, too big to squeeze between the wires.

PV rootborer.jpg 


PV rootborer in hand 1_2651.jpg 
When I removed it from the trap and let it go, an overly-optimistic lizard ran up to eat it--only to discover that the beetle was way, way too big. The lizard gave it an experimental nip and then retreated to wait for something smaller.


Subject: what is this? Replies: 10
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 335
 
A good-sized, healthy vine can probably handle a few caterpillars. If you like having the butterflies around, sacrificing some leaves might be a good trade-off.
[image] [image]

Subject: first fig of season, a whopper Replies: 25
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 918
 
That's amazing, Gene! Do you rent your chickens out?

Subject: OT paw paw tree and fruit Replies: 25
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,122
 
Thanks, Mike & Bill, for the info. Although I've never tasted a Paw Paw, they sound intriguing and I'm quite hopeful. I'll water a lot and keep my fingers crossed.

Incidentally, if they end up ripening in August/September here in Tucson as they do in Tennessee, and need humidity to do it, that should dovetail nicely with our monsoon season.

Subject: OT paw paw tree and fruit Replies: 25
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,122
 
That is a beautiful tree.

I planted a dozen or so freshly-germinated seeds from a 'Mango' Paw Paw to see whether they could handle Tucson's climate, and am now down to four healthy seedlings. They are in their third season, ranging from 2 to 2.5 feet high. I'm guessing it will still be a long time before they're big enough to fruit, but once that day finally arrives (given that the seeds all came from the same variety) will I need a different variety for pollination, or will these seedlings be able to pollinate each other?


 Paw Paw seedling rdc.jpg 
I read that they like to be understory trees, so this one was planted at the edge of a persimmon to provide some shade.


Subject: help with snake id? Replies: 35
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 837
 
Susie, my fairly educated guess is that it was probably a coachwhip snake (Masticophis flagellum). Throughout the southwest, it's a common, non-venomous snake that is slender-bodied as you describe, and gets quite long--six feet would not be unusual. There are several subspecies, and the pattern and coloration are highly variable. They range from solid jet black to mottled brown, olive, tan, or red. The underside, particularly near and including the tail, is often bright pink or red. One subspecies is commonly referred to as a "red racer"). They will eat most any small animal they can catch, including lizards, snakes (even rattlesnakes), mice, and small birds and their eggs. I once found one that had grabbed a baby cottontail, which hopped off when the snake saw me and decided to escape. While not venomous, I don't recommend trying to pick one up, as most tend to be enthusiastic biters when captured. (Incidentally, pupil shape is not a reliable indicator of whether a snake is venomous--nor is head shape. If you're concerned about it, find out which venomous species live in your area, and learn to recognize them.)

[image]  [image]

[image]  [image]

Subject: --- lost a few grafts because of parafilm Replies: 25
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,277
 
I've had good results with Parafilm.

Subject: Bird problem solved--at least for now Replies: 38
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,625
 
Thanks, All, for your comments.

Regarding weather issues, I had a number of problems with the previous enclosure: To save money, I used 1/2" EMT conduit for all the support poles, and the corner poles and a couple of others at the ends of the structure got bent during our monsoon winds. I straightened them out again and sleeved heavier conduit over them, and haven't had any more bending. However, the new netting has smaller openings and therefore will likely create more wind resistance, so time will tell whether the poles will be able to handle the load.

On the first version I used cheap tie wire for the rigging that supports the netting. In a fairly short time, though, the wind began to make the wire fatigue and break at the connections, and then the netting would tear. The wire also rusted, which made it abrasive and caused it to wear through the netting in some places. In the improved version I used 1/16" galvanized aircraft cable instead, sleeved inside 1/8" irrigation tubing. The tops of the support poles are kept from touching the netting by shields made from 2-liter soda bottles, cut in half. The tubing and half-bottles insure that the netting only comes in contact with smooth plastic (except in a few spots along the edges) which should make it last longer.

We rarely get snow in Tucson but it does happen, and during one winter storm there was enough buildup to tear the netting. I can't engineer it to carry a snow load, so in the latest version I'm planning to remove the netting after harvesting the last persimmons (around Christmas), and reinstall it again in April before the first apricots ripen. The vertical netting at both ends of the cage is permanently installed, but the rest is a simple rectangle held in place with clothespins and wire hooks for relatively easy (I hope) removal.

The other main climate issue is sunshine. UV eats most plastic up pretty fast in Tucson. The previous netting was pretty stable, and still in relatively good shape after four years. The new stuff doesn't seem that durable to me, but we'll see. I used Dacron multi-stranded fishing line to connect the seams; it should last much longer than the netting itself.

Unfortunately, it's inevitable that this sort of light-weight enclosure will require periodic maintenance and repair. I've worked out some of the bugs but I'm sure others will appear. I just hope there won't be any problems so serious that I have to give it up, because in my area, a physical barrier is the ONLY way to keep birds from spoiling most of every crop.

Subject: Bird problem solved--at least for now Replies: 38
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,625
 
Long-time forum members may remember reading about the bird netting enclosure I started back in 2010. It proved to be a big disappointment--unfortunately, the openings in the netting were slightly too large, and the smallest birds continued to squeeze through and ruin most of my fruit year after year.

Recently however, the supplier I had purchased the netting from (amigoni.com/bird netting.htm) added some new products, and I rebuilt the cage last month with a smaller-sized mesh (labeled "bird netting smaller mesh" on the website). The result? A truly bird-free zone--finally.
tree cage west end.jpg 
tree cage interior.jpg 

The cage is roughly 120 feet by 28 feet, 12.5 feet high along the center ridge and 8.5 feet at the edges. A low perimeter fence of chicken wire draped with black plastic keeps large animals (coyotes & javelinas) from breaking in; it also prevents the abundant lizards and snakes in my neighborhood from climbing up to get their heads stuck in the netting. A four-wire "Fidoshock" electric fence discourages big critters from testing the mesh. So far, everything is working great. I can even enjoy having birds in the yard again--especially as I watch them hop around on top of the cage, trying to figure out how to get in!

Budget has been a major issue from the start, so while I think the netting supplier's "knitted multi-row" product probably would have been a better choice (wider rolls, making it unnecessary to seam several pieces together; better UV stability), I couldn't justify the higher cost for what I still consider something of an experiment. The lightweight netting I bought will likely not last many seasons, so I'll enjoy it while I can (one roll is enough to cover the cage twice).

The cage protects a couple dozen fig trees of various sizes ranging from tiny to very productive four-year-olds, as well as a persimmon, apple, 2 plums, 2 peaches, and 2 apricots. The earliest of the main crop figs to ripen are from the Georgia White Hybrid, which has become one of my favorites. We are really thrilled to finally be getting perfect, unpecked fruit!
Georgia white hybrid tree.jpg 
GWH with netting in background.jpg 
Georgia white hybrid fruit.jpg 


Subject: Hardy Chicago Breba Fig Video Review Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 606
 
Joe, that's a nice breba. You inspired me to go check my HC to see if I had overlooked some, but no such luck. Maybe next year. Lots of main crop coming along, though, so I anticipate a very good season.

Subject: Air layering questions Replies: 29
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,033
 
Sounds perfect--good luck!

Subject: Back From The Dead Replies: 19
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 799
 
That's what I had always heard, too, so it was one of my original choices from UCD (DFIC0066) back in 2010. It produced figs for three years, but not one of them was worth eating. I don't know if it was simply a bad strain, or a result of the FMV, or what--but it certainly didn't earn its keep. I pulled it out this spring to make room for an Ischia Black cutting my nephew gave me.

Subject: Air layering questions Replies: 29
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,033
 
I've seen root development on current-season suckers, but usually late enough in the season that the bark is brown and the stem is pretty rigid. However, since one of big benefits of air layering is the comparatively large plant you can end up with (as opposed to rooting cuttings), you might be better off waiting until the target branch is big enough to work to your advantage.

Here are a couple of examples; both are Celeste cuttings Cecil sent to me last year, of the same age. I rooted one directly in the ground, and the other I grafted onto an FMV-laden UCR 135-15s--and am now in the final stages of removing it via air layer. The in-ground cutting is healthy enough, but very small by comparison. I could have air layered the grafted plant several moths ago, but would have lost all the growth generated by giving the mature root system enough time to work its magic.

Unfortunately, I didn't consider the high probability of transferring FMV to the scion when I grafted it, so in this case I'll keep the rooted cutting, even though it's so much smaller than the air layered graft.

 CecilCeleste cutting.jpg  

CecilCeleste graft.jpg 


Subject: Back From The Dead Replies: 19
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 799
 
The more I learn about FMV, the less I think I know. Initially I was pretty confident it wouldn't make much difference, but after a few years I've noticed that my figs with heavy symptoms haven't performed very well. Even when some showed an occasional good growth spurt or seemed to "snap out of it" later in the season, I haven't been impressed with longer-term growth or production. Some of my plants seem pretty much symptom-free; I don't know whether they have it and are just resistant, or if they don't have it at all. Some, like Black Madeira and Green Ischia have heavy symptoms but I choose to keep them anyway, hoping they'll improve with age. Others, such as Kadota and Celeste, I discarded and replaced. I'm not concerned enough about it to even consider trying to eradicate it from my yard, but increasingly I've added varieties (or individual plants) that show few if any symptoms.

Subject: Back From The Dead Replies: 19
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 799
 
I used to be pretty enthused about it, but now I'm less-so. I don't know from actual observation, but I'm guessing grafting has the potential to spread FMV or other problems among your figs. Without thinking about it, I did quite a bit of grafting onto one tree that had severe FMV, and although I don't see signs of it yet in the grafts (now air layered), I wonder if it will show up at some point.

Subject: Air layering questions Replies: 29
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,033
 
Every day or two. The excess just runs out of the pot, so I don't think I can really overwater--but bear in mind that I'm in a hot, dry climate, which is why I don't do the sealed-up method any more. I found sometimes I didn't get it sealed well enough, and the soil dried out.

Subject: Cuttings Replies: 16
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 815
 
Other than some beginner's luck on my first try a few years ago, I've had kind of a black thumb when it comes to rooting cuttings. My best recent success has been rooting them in the ground, but I first bury a vertical piece of 1-inch PVC pipe so an inch is sticking up above the surface. Then I pour about an inch of perlite into the pipe, slip in the cutting so the tip is just sticking out of the ground, and then pour more perlite around it. Then I carefully pull out the PVC, adding more perlite as it settles, so the cutting isn't actually touching the soil (I started doing that because the ones I put directly into the soil tended to rot). I cover the cutting tip with a clear plastic container (with several ventilation holes) to create a bit more humidity, and drape a white rag over it to keep it from overheating. A drip emitter several inches from the cutting keeps the soil moist, but the perlite buffer prevents the bark from getting (or at least, staying) wet. Even if leaves emerge before the roots, I don't remove them--the humidity and light shade seem to be enough to keep the leaves from drying out, and that way they can photosynthesize and create nourishment that ( I think) helps drive root production.

Subject: Conadria Breba Fig Video Review Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 613
 
It looks like a very promising season. The trees that have been in the ground for a couple of years or more have a lot of figs developing. The varieties you gave me are still too small to produce much, if anything (although the Desert King has a few), but they're in the ground and looking very happy.

Subject: Back From The Dead Replies: 19
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 799
 
Good job! I bet they'll shoot up really fast since they should already have strong root systems.

This is something to bear in mind when grafting fig trees--if the graft union is above the soil line, a freeze could leave you with only what may (or may not) sprout from below ground; i.e., not what you wanted. I usually find grafting to be easier than rooting cuttings, but once the graft is established and thriving, I air layer it off the "surrogate mom" and plant it on its own.

Subject: Air layering questions Replies: 29
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,033
 
There are a lot of methods; experiment and find a way that works for you. If the rootball is kept moist and you keep it from overheating, it should work.

I usually use 1-gal plastic milk jusg or 2/3 liter soda bottles because they're free and you can gauge root development through the plastic. I've done them with moist medium all sealed up inside, as well as with the tops of the bottles cut off to make an open pot. I've come to prefer leaving them open, because that way I know I have enough moisture (they can dry out quickly in my climate). I just make drainage holes in the bottom and water them like any other potted plant. Sometimes I'll stick the end of a drip emitter through the side of the pot and let it happen automatically. I usually drape a rag over the pot to keep sun from damaging the roots; it's easy to lift up and check progress. Five or six weeks usually does the trick. The forum has a lot of old posts on the topic, with photos--you might want to do a search and see what ideas appeal to you.

Subject: Let's talk traps Replies: 36
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,140
 
I used to take each live packrat for a drive and then let it out of the trap about two miles away, but after a dozen such relocations realized it cost too much in time and gas. So, I devised a humane way to dispatch them, but it's not for everybody. I sleeve a Costco-size mesh onion sack over a big plastic bread bag to form a double, reinforced bag (the plastic bag alone isn't strong enough), and then slip the neck of the double bag over the end of the trap, keeping it tight so the rat can't squeeze out and escape. Then I open the door leading into the bag, and usually simply blowing at the rat once or twice makes it run into the bag. I gather the neck closed and remove the bag from the end of the trap; then, holding the bag securely by the neck I swing it (with rat inside), hard, in an arc against the concrete walkway. The rat dies instantly and is already in a plastic bag for disposal.

Subject: Conadria Breba Fig Video Review Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 613
 
Congratulations Joe, that's pretty early. Tucson is a bit behind Phoenix--my Conadria has several brebas and lots of still-small main crop, but everything is still hard and green.

Subject: Let's talk traps Replies: 36
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,140
 
I've kept pack rats (wood rats) under control for the past few years with a Havahart trap, but it requires dealing with the live occupant. The electrocuting traps sound like a low hassle, humane solution.

Subject: top killed but still hope Replies: 4
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 423
 
In fall of 2012 "afigfan" sent me a nice one-gallon JH Adriatic. I put it in the ground and it appeared to be thriving, but then suddenly crashed. Upon closer inspection I saw that the drip emitter was constantly oozing water, which saturated some mulch in direct contact with the trunk, causing a wide ring of bark to rot and slough off right at the ground. I was very disappointed, as that was a variety I had really wanted. The trunk eventually dried out to nothing but a brittle stick, so I pulled it up. As I was about to throw it away I noticed one or two live-looking roots, so I stuck it back in a one-gallon pot and left it in a shallow tray that gets watered every day. It took several weeks, but eventually it sent up a tiny shoot and is now back in the ground, doing great. I know it's not the same as freeze damage, but the point is that figs are pretty resilient and will often survive major setbacks.

Subject: First Georgiafig White Hybrid Unknown Replies: 10
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,083
 
The fruits on my tree are nearly all as in the  photo I posted earlier: much wider than they are tall, which doesn't seem to match the Hollier photo. It will be interesting to see if there's any change this year.

Subject: First Georgiafig White Hybrid Unknown Replies: 10
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,083
 
I don't have the knowledge necessary to figure out what an unknown fig may, or may not, be. I'll leave that to the experts. I just know that, to my taste, it's a very good fig, a vigorous grower, and quite productive. It seems very well suited to conditions in my yard.

Subject: simple step-by-step grafting Replies: 26
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 3,037
 
Baumgrenze, thanks very much for the links.

Axier, 
 I found that the success rate of my more recent grafts has not been quite as good. A Panachee graft from last year hung on without doing much until this spring, when it finally took off. However, the union didn't look very strong. My intent from the start was to air layer it, which I did, and I'll soon remove it--but for some reason the roots don't look as robust as I'd like. One graft never "took" at all, and another is growing slowly. I had a couple of Persimmon failures, although most did great.

On the other hand, two grafts from Cecil's neighbor's Celeste are doing very well and are about ready to air layer. By contrast, three cuttings from the same tree that I rooted directly in the ground at the same time all started okay, but one died and the others are nowhere near as far along as the grafts.

That said, I'll probably stick with the rooted Celeste cuttings because I know the tree I grafted onto has heavy FMV; maybe the cuttings won't get it. (I planted them at the base of a struggling UCD Celeste, which I will remove once either of the new ones is thriving.) In truth, I'm now less enthralled with the whole notion of grafting figs, and will probably stick to air layering or rooting cuttings in the future.

Here are some photos:
  Panachee graft, air layered and soon to be removed.

 Panachee roots

  Cecil's neighbor's Celeste, graft

  Cecil's neighbor's Celeste, rooted cuttings



 

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