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Fig & Mulberry Cuttings

posted by Cantankerous Geezer on Jun 14th, 2012 at 7:46pm

I searched.  Didn't find a discussion on this.

My basic philosophy on the farm ... if I can't eat it (or eat what eats it), I won't plant it.

I have bees ... so ... the more flowers the better.

Flowering trees put out less pollen (an allergen) than trees that cross-pollinate by the wind (oaks, pecans, lots of others) ... so, I plant trees that

1) give me flowers, 2) fruit or nuts (for me AND the wildlife), 3) fast-growing wood for firewood

And Mulberry provides both.

Fig is also fast-growing, but as we all know, figs require specific wasp pollinators ... so they don't help the bees ... but they also don't put out a lot of pollen in the wind.

 

I searched online for how to grow fig cuttings last year ... followed 'em to a T ... got some temporary good results but out of 14 starts ... only 1 has survived.

so ... I did it MY way this year (w/ stolen ideas from the online instructions)

 

I don't know if time of year makes a difference ... but I cut early spring suckers from CELESTE & BROWN TURKEY FIGS at a friend's house in late Feb ... and put 'em immediately into water.  As per last year's reading, I took the sucker cuttings from low on the tree ... whether that makes a difference, I don't really know.

I limited the cuttings to ~6-8" & tore off any lower leaves ... just leaving one or 2 at the tip.

When I got home, I put a bit of Rootone (root stimulant) into the water. (see comment below)

I kept the bottle full of water.

The leaves stayed on for weeks ... but finally dropped off ... BUT there remained green buds on the tips of the cuttings (but still no roots).

I had nothin' to lose, so I left 'em in the water & kept refilling it.

After a few months, I had new leaves sprouting ... and even some of THOSE fell off ... I was busy, so I just kept 'em in the water.

Finally, just last week I took a look at 'em and there were either roots, or root buds every 1/4-1/2" up and down the entire length of those cuttings ... with tough roots at the high water level.

So I finally plunked 'em into planting mix.  I plan on moving 'em 300 mi soon enough, and didn't want to handle 20 10" pots ... so they all went into 3 5 gal pots, planted pretty tightly on top.  I figure after I move 'em ... I can tip over the planters this fall ... wash the dirt off the roots & untangle 'em ... then replant where they are gonna learn to like it or not.  And, in the dirt, they are putting on more leaves quickly.

MOST of the figs are going into the back 40 for the wildlife ... but some will stay up by the house for me. 

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MULBERRIES

FOR THE WILDLIFE: a friend had a wild mulberry on his lawn near Rockport, Tx ... the berries were only ~1/2" long ... but tasty enough ... and I am willing to experiment.  So ... I took cuttings off of tips of branches that had a few leaves & maybe a bud or 2.  I also collected a quart of mulberries to try 'em from seed as well.  The cuttings immediately went into water.

By the time I got the cuttings home (in water the whole way), the few leaves on the tips had turned dry & brittle & fallen off. It was only a 3.5 hr drive.

Again ... what did I have to lose?  I kept 'em in water but had misplaced the Rootone ... so they didn't get any.  But the buds on the tips remained green.  (so ... not sure how much good the Rootone did for the figs)

I planted the mulberries themselves into planting mix ... that resulted in el nada grande!  But I kept the water filled in the bottle around the twigs.

A month later ... when I was planting the figs ... I looked at the mulberry twigs ... et voila! They too had a few root nubs. So they went into the big planters w/ the figs.

These are NOT my ideal in mulberries ... but in a pinch ... they COULD find their way into a 5 gal carboy w/ some yeast.   But I'm primarily aiming 'em at the back 40 (I have 75 acres) for the wildlife & bees.  And 8 mulberry trees spaced 25-50 yds apart will provide excellent shade and are fast-growing wood trees, in case they piss me off.

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There was the bonus satisfaction of watching hundreds of mosquitoe larvae suddenly having to develop a "Plan B" when I emptied the bottles of water (that the clippings were in) onto a 95F sunny driveway.

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ANYBODY have any similar fast-growing, flowering fruit/nut tree to suggest for my property?  It's farmland that's been fallow for >10-15 yrs & has a very diverse selection of volunteer trees coming up.  I'm just trying to broaden the diversity for the health of the local ecosystem I'm cooperating with & potentiating. 

ANY improvements on my rooting of suckers or tip cuttings?

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My next chore is to air-root the pecan sucker on the tree on my front lawn :-)   Any suggestions?

 

About the Author

Cantankerous Geezer  

Cantankerous Geezer into Pinot Noir & Cascadian Dark Ales seeks compatible crone.

Comment by Catherine Lyon on Jun 14th, 2012 at 8:13pm 0 Likes

Just from my own experience, it will take a while for the Mulberry trees to grow into trees. They stay bushes for quite a while, so you will have to wait for firewood.
On the good side, while they are bushy for a long time, they berry really fast. Mulberries are great for people, birds, small animals, bees, deer, turkey, etc. And, Mulberries are really healthy!!

Comment by Spun Gold Farm on Jun 15th, 2012 at 2:01am 0 Likes

We, too, are getting ready to move, so I am getting a head start with pottted trees. I took landscape fabric and made a pocket to fit in large pots probably 5-6 gallon, 2 pockets to a pot, filled with my good soil, some peat moss, some red wigglers in partially digested manure and each fruit tree, alternating fill to make equal space for both trees, watering them in. Why fabric? So I can gently pull them from the pots to plant them without destroying the hair roots or soil ball when I get to the site this summer. Ever fight with a tight fit? I have. So I am trying this to see if it eases the removal from the large pots and minimizes disruption.

Comment by Alma Laney on Jun 15th, 2012 at 11:29am 0 Likes

Any cultivated fig will produce fruit without pollination; however, the fruit will not have viable seeds. What I usually do to propagate my figs is I trim off a piece that is at least 2 inches in diameter and 6 inches long. I put the fig into organic matter-rich soil and pack it tightly around the bottom two inches of the cutting. I water it initially and then mist the top daily with a spray bottle to keep the soil moist, but not water-logged. Within a month or two the fig starts growing like crazy and will start producing fruit in a couple of years. There isn't much fruit at first but the amount will increase each year. Also when I do I don't use the rooting powder as figs will naturally root on their own and it may encourage pathogen growth that will rot the fig. But if you have a system that works for you use it, rooting success varies based on the time of the year and the climate.

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