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Subject: 1st LSU Gold Main Crop Fig of the Season Replies: 5
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 832
That's disappointing, Joe--I hope it improves with age. I've really been looking forward to mine getting to fruiting size (this is its first season in the ground), and your experience makes me a little worried.

Subject: Newspaper shield Replies: 7
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 959
Frank, it's the infamous Brown Turkey, or at least that's what a local nursery called it (to be specific, the label said "Improved Brown Turkey").

Gina, I haven't noticed any major color changes, but have used newspapers mostly on a Black Mission, which seemed to have pretty consistent colr regardless of how much sun was hitting the figs.

Sorry Jon; I didn't realize the topic had already been covered.

Subject: Newspaper shield Replies: 7
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 959
I know many people use newspapers to protect their fruit, and there are probably many ways to apply it, but in case anybody is looking for a cheap and effective way to shield their figs and hasn't tried this, here's how I do it:

1) Tear some full-size newspaper sheets into quarters and fold each at about the one-third point.
2) Slip the folded side close to the fig, making sure to trap the associated leaf between the fig and paper.
3) Curl the paper around both fig and leaf to form an open-ended cone, keeping as close a fit around the fig stem as possible.
4) Fasten it with a clothespin.

The open end of the cone allows good air circulation and lets you monitor the  ripening process, but the leaf seems to prevent birds from reaching the fruit (at least in my yard).

Attached Images
jpeg newspaper_shield_3.jpg (112.61 KB, 93 views)
jpeg newspaper_shield_2.jpg (93.93 KB, 89 views)
jpeg newspaper_shield_1.jpg (79.17 KB, 70 views)

Subject: UCR 135-15s breba Replies: 10
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 969
I've heard varying reports on this fig,which had been highly recommended to me when I was first getting started. Ken Love's taste comparison table rates it very high; others say it is bland. Based on the two Brebas I've sampled, if Jason could only choose between UCR 135-15s and his recently-executed Brown Turkey, he'd be scrambling to find a viable cutting among the carnage. It's totally tasteless. Not a hint of "figgyness"; not a hint of sweetness. I know brebas are often inferior to main crop in taste, and young trees may take years to develop full flavor, so I won't wield the ax just yet (besides--there are 6 other varieties grafted onto this tree), but unless there's an incredible improvement over the next few years it will share the fate of Jason's unfortunate BT.

Attached Images
jpeg UCR_135-15s_Breba_1.jpg (72.56 KB, 47 views)
jpeg UCR_135-15s_Breba_3.jpg (78.24 KB, 56 views)
jpeg UCR_135-15s_Breba_2.jpg (65.96 KB, 44 views)

Subject: Fig Emporium 2012 Cutting Success Replies: 13
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,247
Very impressive launch--thanks for the update!

Subject: Red Lebanese breba Replies: 6
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,252
Looks delicious!

Subject: Sour beetles Replies: 7
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,136
Suzi, mine isn't very bright but you definitely got a smile out of me!

Gene, I never tried spraying for them because on my BT the ostioles are so big the beetles seem to just zip right inside without waiting around, so I figured it wouldn't do any good. Maybe it's worth a try, though--did you also spray fruit that you intend to eat? It seems that even if you used a non-toxic spray it would still spoil the taste, even if you did happen to end up with a brighter smile.

Subject: Taste testing 6 figs Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,670
Very interesting! I, too, wonder about the ages of the trees. It just goes to show you that what is great in one location may not be so hot elsewhere, and vice versa. Good info.

Subject: The Entrance To My Fig Sanctuary Replies: 14
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 809
Much more aesthetically pleasing than my electric fence.

Subject: How deep should I plant? Replies: 11
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,053
I recall seeing an online photo essay about fig growers in an arid climate (I think it may have been Israel) where they dug quite deep holes (3'?) and planted the little trees (might have even been cuttings) way down in the bottom as a strategy to develop strong, deep roots. As the trees grew, the soil was gradually filled in over several seasons until it was about even with the surrounding grade. Seemed to work well for those guys; just don't try it with other trees unless you know for sure it's a species that can tolerate it! James is right--planting most varieties deeper than they originally grew can be disastrous.

Subject: FMV: then and now Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 787
Thanks all.

I, for one, very much appreciate UCD for making so many varieties of cuttings available (it's not just figs, although that's all I've ordered so far). It seems that where I live, at least, FMV is really no more than a temporary aesthetic problem--which is why I posted the photos. Having been concerned about it early on, when I thought my plants might always be dwarfed and contorted (if they even survived), and knowing that other folks are currently worried about FMV, I figured the "before and after" shots would offer some encouragement and show my fellow worriers that they have something to look forward to.

Subject: Violette dinky Bordeaux Replies: 12
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,135
Thanks everybody, for the feedback and ideas. Next year I may start pruning to try and shape things a bit--up to this point I figured I'd let them grow pretty wild and build a good root system. I'm already putting an outrageous amount of water on them all, but the mulch isn't all that deep yet on the VdB because I don't want to bury all the low branches. But--the other figs really seem to benefit from the deep mulch, so I'll eventually get a thick layer under this one as well. The desert trees in the yard grow so fast it's a challenge to keep them from getting completely out of hand, but on the plus side, they're also an unending source of free mulch!

Subject: "Blackened" Madeira Replies: 34
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 2,716
Thanks all, I'll post a photo if the fruit ripens.

Subject: Violette dinky Bordeaux Replies: 12
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,135
C'mon, Ruben--it's only a balmy 100+ degrees! Actually, I don't know how to tell if the main crop is developing normally or not, since they haven't reached full size (I hope). They're alittle tricky, though, because the ones in direct sun are already purpleish, which makes them seem like they're farther along than they really are. All kidding aside on the heat, I've wondered if it's just so hot and dry that some varieties just can't reach full size--but then FrozenJoe in Phoenix seems to be getting better results with his, and they are usually about 10 degrees hotter.

Pete, thanks very much for the offer. I'll keep an eye on this one through the summer, and if it doesn't shape up I may take you up on it.

Subject: "Blackened" Madeira Replies: 34
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 2,716

My Black Madeira seems to have pretty much shrugged off its initial challenges and is taking off. FMV is still evident but doesn't seem severe (at least compared to how it used to be), the nodes are much longer, and it's developing quite a few figs. I'm guessing the main factors are frequent deep watering, lots of fertilizer (unscientifically applied), mulch, sun/heat, and time.

Attached Images
jpeg Black_Madeira_figlets_June_2012.jpg (130.32 KB, 64 views)
jpeg Black_Madeira_June_2012.jpg (215.10 KB, 69 views)

Subject: Violette dinky Bordeaux Replies: 12
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,135
It's growing as a bush, 45 inches high.

Attached Images
jpeg VdB_tree.jpg (212.77 KB, 43 views)

Subject: Violette dinky Bordeaux Replies: 12
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,135
Last year I was disappointed at the dinky size of my first "crop" from a one-year-old tree, but I held out high hopes for this year. Waiting pays off--here's the massive breba I just harvested--look closely--that raisin is actually a fig. Since brebas tend to be on the large side, should I expect the main crop to be even smaller? Perhaps I should invest in a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers....

In fairness, it did taste quite good, although it was a little dry toward the "eye." Any ideas why my VdBs seem to be circumferencially challenged, and what I might do to fatten them up?

Attached Images
jpeg VdB_breba_2012.jpg (69.64 KB, 37 views)
jpeg VdB_main_crop.jpg (99.42 KB, 38 views)
jpeg VdB_breba_2012,_split.jpg (50.16 KB, 33 views)

Subject: FMV: then and now Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 787
There has been some recent discussion of FMV, so I thought I'd post shots of my Celeste that was severely infected as a rooted cutting in 2010, and how it looks today.

Attached Images
jpeg Celeste_2010,_FMV.jpg (123.67 KB, 72 views)
jpeg Celeste_2012,_figs.jpg (113.06 KB, 59 views)
jpeg Celeste_2012.jpg (140.04 KB, 73 views)

Subject: A Day Walker Replies: 14
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 897
Deer ticks and wheel bugs don't sound like much fun, either. I didn't realize the wheel bugs would bite so readily.

Subject: A Day Walker Replies: 14
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 897
Yes, fortunately Chagas hasn't shown up here yet, at least not that I've heard of.

Subject: A Day Walker Replies: 14
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 897
Jason--we've got kissing bugs right here in Tucson as well. Nasty critters, with an appetite for human blood if their favored host, the pack rat, isn't handy. I would happily trade them all for wheel bugs or any of the assassin bugs, since those seem to only bite humans in self-defense!

Subject: Green figs and birds Replies: 17
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,323
At least in my area, the birds don't tend to eat a certain amount and leave the rest untouched. If they took a third of the crop, they'd do it by taking a third of each ripe fig and leave me with the dried-up, tattered remnants. In most situations I've heard about or experienced, a physical barrier is the only solution. Either enclose the whole tree (or several together) or enclose each individual fruit you hope to actually eat--or forget it.

Subject: My Black Mission Fig is not black. Replies: 22
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 2,544
It definitely looks ripe, and the color doesn't look at all like my Black Mission. I'm guessing it was mislabeled.

Subject: Great Time of Year Replies: 10
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 856
I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who thinks staring at a motionless fig tree and savoring the tiny amount of growth progress from yesterday, or even this morning, is high entertainment.

Subject: Improved Celeste 2011 & 2012 Replies: 39
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 3,339
Beautiful photos, JD, as always. I'm hoping the LSU IC cutting I grafted will ripen its fruit this season--it's well on its way with a fig at most of the lower leaf axils. The now in-ground 1-gallon is growing well, but no signs of fruit yet this season.

What is the newspaper in the background of one of your on-the-tree shots? Is that a bird barrier? I use the newspaper/clothespin shield quite a bit, but that looks like you may be using a different method.

Subject: protect your fruit and recycle Replies: 22
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,731
I put them on as soon as birds are showing any interest, but I'm in a dry climate so rot is less of a problem.

Subject: protect your fruit and recycle Replies: 22
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,731
I thought I'd bump this thread since new forum members may not have seen it, and fruit is ripening. (Thanks, Maverick, for the idea!)

It has worked very well for me also, although in my hot climate it's most effective on fruit that is at least partially shaded. We had very few apricots & peaches this year due to a late frost, and then the birds ate every single one that wasn't protected in these little boxes. They also worked last year for figs. The best boxes snap securely at the corners, and have a sizable gap between the lid and box, which allows you to close it around a branch.

Attached Images
jpeg fruit_armor.jpg (100.30 KB, 80 views)

Subject: Ken Stockton Fine Art (TucsonKen) Replies: 14
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,221
Thanks Vivian--no, I've never painted a fig, but there's always a first time. I did have a brief mention in Southwest Art back in Feb 2005, as well as a 2008 feature article in Western Art Collector. If you're interested, it's linked from the bio page on my website:

Subject: Damn Effin Grasshoppers Replies: 21
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,390
What a pain, James! Once when I was trying to protect my figs from both birds and beetles, my daughter sewed some big bags (sleeves, actually) from a mosquito net-like material. I slipped each sleeve over a branch and gathered it around the base, securing it with a twist tie (the other, open end was closed with a clothespin for easy access to the fruit). I realize we're giving advice about locking the barn after the horse is gone, but if you could find some suitable bags before next year and then gather them around the trunks, maybe that would foil the new hoppers hatching out under the trees.

(By the way, for anyone wanting to try this for bird protection, it didn't work--they pecked holes through the bags.)

Subject: Ken Stockton Fine Art (TucsonKen) Replies: 14
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,221
Thanks, All, for the kind words! I should mention, though, that time marches on and I've had to shift career gears. Flogging canvases was a great experience while it lasted, but the recession pretty much wiped out my sales and I finally had to put away the brushes and go back to school in hopes of finding a new career that would pay the bills. I haven't had the heart to take down the website yet, but it's probably time.

But--if I ever decide to limber up the brushes and paint a fig or two for old time's sake, I'll post an image on the forum. At least the birds won't attack a still life!

Subject: 2012 Cutting progress so far ..(Grafting Vs. Rooting) Replies: 47
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 3,042
Great looking plants! Thanks for the update.

Subject: FMV Spread Replies: 21
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,493
To complicate it a little more, I doubt that anyone has any idea how many additional sap-sucking bugs might spread it as well--so even if you don't happen to have a particular mite or aphid living in your area, that might not mean you're home free. Sometimes I notice leaf hoppers on my fig leaves--particularly on the newest growth, where it's probably easiest to suck the sap. They can hop and fly, so I assume they're far more mobile than a mite. I've wondered if they might spread FMV; Wikipedia says, "Leafhoppers can transmit plant pathogens, such as virusesphytoplasmas[2] and bacteria."
( I have no idea if the ones on my figs are a problem, and I'd rather not spray anything on them if I can avoid it, so I'm opting to just not worry about it unless I see major damage. I don't worry about FMV, either--some of my trees were heavily infected when they were very small, but the bigger they get, the fewer symptoms I see.

Subject: Cucumber breba Replies: 36
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,687
Now you just need a recipe for fig pickles....

Subject: How young is too young to air layer? Replies: 4
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 614
I've only had one air layer fail--and it was on a pencil-thin, green branch from which I tried removing a ring of bark. I must have scored the underlying, soft wood, and the branch cracked. I can't see what you'd have to lose by letting it get a bit thicker.

Since it's a sucker, you might want to wait a month or so and then carefully remove enough soil to see whether it's already rooting on its own. If so, you may not need to air layer it at all--just carefully snip it loose, making sure you've got some good roots attached.

Subject: New to the forum with a question Replies: 20
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,310
And, in addition to figs, there are plenty of other fruits you can grow in the ground!

Subject: simple step-by-step grafting Replies: 26
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 3,037
After the first layer of Parafilm I wrap the union with a rubber band--not stretched too tightly, but still fairly snug. If you "mouse over" the thumbnails, you'll see short captions to explain what's going on. This is the first year I've done any grafting, but based on that little bit of experience I'd say yes, spring is the best time--just after the recipient tree has started "waking up."

Subject: Rafed In Hospital Replies: 105
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 5,216
Go Rafed--and stay away from those bees!

Subject: I'm glad I didn't plant figs yesterday! Replies: 15
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,026
Glad it isn't any worse. Sounds like the owner of the commercial tract needs to see what's happening and take care of it.

Subject: simple step-by-step grafting Replies: 26
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 3,037

I'm finding that timing may be much more important than I had thought--the results have been quite varied. The LSU Improved Celeste and LSU Scott's Black grafts I did three months ago (March 10) are doing great. The LSU IC added 14 inches and is still going strong, with several figs forming. On the other hand, the Black Madeira put out a few wimpy leaves and hasn't done anything since.

The grafts I did on May 4th, after it was already hot, haven't progressed at all. I don't know if this is due to the advanced state of foliage on the other branches, or the temperature, or some other factor I haven't thought of. Maybe it was just beginner's luck on the successful ones--I hope not! (At any rate, 100% of the persimmon grafts "took" and have grown like weeds.)

I'm still guardedly optimistic about the grafts that don't seem to be doing anything, because another graft (Violette de Bordeaux) that I thought was dead is just starting to shoot out a leaf--but I'm guessing not much will happen with the others till the summer monsoon's typical growth flush, or maybe not even till next spring!

So, my best guess, based on very limited experience, is that fig grafts should be made just as the recipient tree is breaking bud, or very soon thereafter.

Attached Images
jpeg LSU_IC_graft_9_Jun_2012.jpg (145.41 KB, 89 views)
jpeg LSU_IC_&_LSU_Scotts_Blk.jpg (196.73 KB, 85 views)
jpeg Black_Madeira_graft_9_Jun_2012.jpg (115.18 KB, 84 views)
jpeg VdB_9_jun_2012.jpg (72.08 KB, 89 views)

Subject: Everbearing vs. Crops Replies: 2
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 562
Interesting observation. I had noticed that my Black Mission seemed to produce all of its figs over a fairly short time and then stop, but the others are still too young to draw many conclusions.

Subject: A "little" Brown Turkey Replies: 47
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 2,037
Maybe its real value is to give perspective on how much better the others are!

Subject: BM has new leaves coming out.. Replies: 11
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 932
Pete, if you can keep them going, in a couple of years they should pick up speed. My little in-ground (UCD cutting, 2010) is finally starting to grow at a respectable rate, and even has a few tiny figs.

Subject: Sampling Figs Replies: 6
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 752
I started with a Brown Turkey and a Black Mission from local nurseries. The BT had souring problems, so I searched online for "closed-eye fig varieties" and found F4F. I requested recommendations for the five (ha!) best figs, and now have almost 30. Most are still pretty young, and none of the newcomers have produced what I would consider fully mature fruit yet, although a few varieties ripened tasty figs last year. So, my selections have all been based on what I've read or various people have recommended, and I'm still waiting to find out how they'll perform in my climate.

Subject: Seeking LSU Improved & LSU Improved Celeste Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,191
Dennis--I sent you a PM.

Subject: LSU Tiger Replies: 15
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 3,069
Very nice, Gene. Your trees are way ahead of my Celeste and Conadria (I don't have an LSU Tiger). The only figs to ripen yet in my yard this year are a few Brown Turkey brebas. I would have thought some of the others would be coming along quicker since it's been well over 100 degrees, but all of the fruits are still small and hard. Maybe it's because my tree are still pretty young?

Subject: Mystery Fig Caught Growing Wild ...ID? Replies: 20
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 1,724
Just for fun, and if you want faster results, ask her if you can go back and make a couple of air layers--one for you and one for her. Since you're in La Quinta (hot & dry), you might want to make a pretty substantial ball of rooting medium, quite wet, and well-sealed, to prevent it drying out and killing your new roots). In a month or two you'll have trees of just about any size you care to try for. I did a four-foot tall branch last year for some friends, and it's now growing in their yard and doing great.

Subject: Rafed In Hospital Replies: 105
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 5,216

Rafed--Sorry to hear you're laid up, but it will take more than bees and bacteria to keep you down for long. Besides--you've got to get back home and keep everybody from running off with your faforite figs! I hope somebody's watching the farm! Get well soon.

Subject: Brown Turkey brebas Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 857
Thanks, All!

Jo-Ann, no, the main crop figs aren't nearly that big, although I would still consider them on the large side. This tree doesn't get many brebas--I think the four I showed is the whole crop--but they always ripen early enough to make me look forward to the other trees' main crops.

Subject: Brown Turkey brebas Replies: 9
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 857
Not anyone's "holy grail of figs", but it was my first taste of the season and well worth eating. I had to jump the gun a little since I will be traveling when they would have been fully ripe, but two were quite soft, so my wife and son and I shared them and all thought they were pretty tasty!

Attached Images
jpeg BT_breba,_split.jpg (83.88 KB, 62 views)
jpeg BT_brebas.jpg (112.14 KB, 53 views)
jpeg BT_breba.jpg (72.41 KB, 59 views)

Subject: Potting mix experiment- Semi-Gritty and Pro-mix combo Replies: 152
Posted By: TucsonKen Views: 16,354
Nice looking roots! Can't argue with success.


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