Monday, February 29, 2016

Fig Cuttings from Harvey have arrived

I'm pretty excited about these new cuttings I recently purchased from Harvey on Figaholics.  He offered a ton of varieties at fare prices. In total I picked up 10 varieties. Hopefully I can root them all, since they all look very good.  I want to trial them in the Seattle Weather.

I picked these based loosely from his descriptions on taste and productivity. 

1. Genovese Nero (Robs)
This fig is well known for some controversy due to what appears to be a mix-up somewhere along the line before we received this fig.  This version is a very productive fig with fruits of very large size, some over 150 grams.  Taste is usually pretty good for us.

2. Gros Monstreuse di Lipari
Reported to be an Italian variety which has been grown in California by fig collectors and USDA for several years though a grower in Sicily reported in 2015 that it is mislabeled.  Fruits he provided are much larger.  Regardless, this has been a popular fig as it's productive and fruits are sweet and very flavorful.

3. Igo
This fig was discovered by a collector many years ago near a small town in northern California by the name of Igo.  Our fig originated from Prusch Park where this collector donated many of the varieties grown there.  Some others in the U.S. have a different fig under this name and the source of the mix-up is unknown.  In any event, the fruits of this version are small to medium with a rich flavor and distinct acidity.

4. Socorro Black
Fig discovered by a friend in Socorro, New Mexico.  For some reason the leaves on our tree did not appear correct in 2014 but now that the tree is mature the leaves were normal.  Fruits in 2014 and 2015 were of very high quality and tree is very productive.

5. Bourjasotte Gris
French variety that has been very productive with medium to large size fruits of excellent quality, sweet and rich flavored.

6. GM 172
Another fig from Malta and the first fruit was ripe when we returned from vacation but a few days later another fruit was picked that was considered to be very good.  It was very sweet with very good flavor and jammy texture.  Will probably evaluate further in 2016 before discussing a better name with the collector who introduced this fig.

7. Italian 376
One of a series of Italian figs imported by collected Todd Kennedy from Dr. Grassi.  Dr. Grassi had lost his notes so the original names of these Italian varieties have been lost.  This tree has fruited well for us, producing large fruits which are sweet with a good flavor.

8. Florea
Attractive small fig that is sweet with moderately rich flavor. Cold hardy from what I read and extremely productive as well.

9. Malta Purple Red (GM-1)
Introduced from Malta which produces very good-tasting small to medium-sized fruits.  This tree grew slowly for first two years but did very well in 2015 and was very productive. Others may want to try grafting it onto a vigorous rootstock to try to get earlier production.

10. Emalyn's Purple
This variety is a seedling selection discovered by a friend of mine here in California who named it after his wife.  Fruits are medium in size with outstanding flavor and with a nice balance of acidity.  At a gathering of fig enthusiasts in northern California these fruits received high praise

I'm sure he won't mind me giving him a free plug from me to his site.

Photos by Harvey at Figaholics.

Fig of the week # 18 Malta Black

Fig of the week # 18 Malta Black | AKA Father of the Celeste

Hardiness: Survives the Seattle Winter
Type: Unifere
Fruit Ripens: September
Fruit Color: Black with red interior
Taste: Sweet berry tone
Fruit Weight: 10 grams

Malta Black is another great fig for the Pacific Northwest. It's extremely resilient to cold. It dies back in zone 5 and will completely grow back. It's production isn't as good as the Takoma Violet and It's fruit can be considered on the small side but taste wise it's pretty good and jammy like strawberry jelly with a hint of wininess.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Top 10 of the best Figs for Seattle other than Brown Turkey & DessertKing

If you are researching figs and you're just starting out, it may seem like every nursery you go to in Washington State (minus Raintree Nursery & Burnt Ridge Nursery which carries a nice collection) seems to have the standard handful of varieties, Brown Turkey, Desert King, Brunswick (magnolia), Osborn, Peter's Honey, or Atreano. You also get the occasional Panache, Mission, or Black Spanish.

Now Desert King is a Phenomenal fig but it is also very common here. Some of the other varieties have their own charm but they too do not compare to the list compiled below.

Well where do you start? At over 1400 different names of figs out there the research can be daunting. How do you know what will work here? And taste good? I've done a bunch research and tested various varieties and I've compiled the top 10 best varieties that any fig grower should have  here in the Pacific Northwest. Most of these you've probably never seen in a Nursery here in WA.

I've taken into account that most people do not want to shuffle their figs in and out for the winter so most of the figs listed below will survive the Seattle Winters. I might make exception to the Smith fig which may require a bit of protection from any deep freezes. It's a Southern fig originally and one of my very favorites. In my book, it's worth the extra effort to protect this fig.

Here's my Top 10 list for the PNW other than the standard varieties listed above. (In no particular order)

1. Olympian
2. Ronde De Bordeaux
3. Negronne / Violette De Bordeaux
4. Smith  (May require a little protection in the winter)
5. Verte
6. Takoma Violet
7. Chicago Hardy
8. Marseilles / Lattarula
9. Gene's Vashon 
10. Longue D'Aout
* Marseilles vs black gets an honorable mention

As my collection grows I'm sure this list will evolve with every year. So stay tuned.

I'm also trialing...

1. Grantham's Royal
2. Gillette
3. Brand St. Unk
4. Mt Etna Unk
5. Wuhan
6. Peter's Honey
7. Green Greek
8. Florea

Top 10 Apple Varieties


Top 10 highest ranked varieties

Top 10 Most Popular Varieties:
  1. Pink Lady® apple

    One of the best-known modern apples, Pink Lady is actually a trademark and the variety is more correctly known as Cripps Pink.
  2. Honeycrisp apple

    Sometimes marketed as Honey Crisp or Honeycrunch, this is a crisp, and predominantly sweet, modern variety from the USA. It was developed by the University of Minnesota specifically for growers in cold climates, and is one of the most cold-hardy of apple varieties.
  3. Fuji apple

    Developed in Japan, but an all-American cross of Red Delicious and Ralls Janet. A very attractive modern apple, crisp, sweet-flavoured, and keeps well.
  4. Red Delicious apple

    One of the most famous American apple varieties, a sport of Delicious, known for its bright red color.
  5. Gala apple

    One of the most widely-grown apple varieties, with a sweet pleasant flavour, and good keeping qualities.
  6. Cox's Orange Pippin apple

    This is the benchmark for flavor in apples - from a good tree in a good year it can achieve exceptional flavor.
  7. Golden Delicious apple

    Undoubtedly one of the most important apple varieties of the 20th century, both as a commercial variety in its own right, and as breeding stock for many other varieties. Very good flavor when home-grown.
  8. Jonagold apple

    A very popular commercial variety, with a good flavour. Inherits many of the good qualities of its parents Jonathan and Golden Delicious.
  9. Granny Smith apple

    The most instantly-recognised of all apples, and perhaps Australia's most famous export.
  10. McIntosh apple

    A crisp red apple with bright white flesh and refreshing sweet flavor.

Grafted Black Madeiras

My Black Madeira cuttings from 2 different sources arrived today and after reading that grafting maybe a better solution than rooting them I set aside 3 cuttings to graft and the rest to root via the Lasagna method.

From personal experience Black Madeira's take forever to root.

For rootstock I used last year's Gillette and Desert King Cuttings that were started in July of 2015. In all I had 11 rootstock to work with. In total I grafted 12 BMs. I grafted a BM onto an MVSB the day before as practice before making the video for youtube.

I used single nodes and a simple cleft graft to graft all 12.  All the grafts were wrapped in parafilm, then tightened with garden ribbon, and kept humid with saran wrap.

It took about 2 hrs to get them all done but it'll be worth it if I get just 25% success. The worse that could happen is that the graft doesn't take and the root stock will grow back it's leaves.

Equipment needed:
Grafting Knife - Kershaw Corral Creek Knife with Sheeps foot blade
Parafilm - Nursery Tape
Saran Wrap

The grafted plants all went back into my windowed garage where the humidity stays constantly high because of the heated fish tanks in there.

I hope you find this useful.

Update: 2/29/16

I grafted 1 more Black Madeira node from Cindy on the forums to a Desert King Rootstock and a Saccoro Black to a Desert King Rootstock.

(Dont be jealous of the stack of Girl Scouts cookies in the background)

This time I snipped a finger off of the rubber glove to cover the grafted union.

Update: 3/5/16

Showing signs of life. There's a tiny bud popping out on the left side of the Black Madeira scion about 10 days later.

Update: 4/14/16

A few of the grafts are making some great progress.

update: 4/27/16

Update: June 2016

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Hello Barbados Cherry

I've seen Jake Mace the vegan athlete rave about this Barbados Cherry fruit. It's a semi tropical plant so I can't actually grow this year around outdoors here in Seattle, it will be a container patio plant but I want to try it out for myself.

So instead of going with something that will take a few years to fruit I went ahead and bucked up for a larger plant. Excuse the boxes I get all my plants shipped to my work place. The plant came with the roots a bit on the dry side so it may not recover but I will do my best to make it work.

It's sweet tart of a fruit with 3 seeds instead of a pit like a regular cherry. I'm into tropical fruit so I'm excited to grow this one.

Unlike other tropical fruit, the Barbados cherry will fruit in a smaller bush form which will make it easier to move in and out for the winters. I love Mangoes and jack fruit but can you imagine doing the fig shuffle for a 20 ft tall tree? =)

Here's more of the sciency info on the Barbados Cherry.

Update: 4/19/16

My Barbados Cherry doesn't look too good. It was pretty dried out when I got it and it never was able to recover. I contacted the seller online and they gave me some general how to care for plants response. It's never good when nurseries do not have a guarantee on their plants. They were were pretty adamant about not sending a replacement plant. 

There's a very slim chance it will recover... but I'll keep it potted for now.

Crazy about Black Madeira figs

My quest to attain Black Madeiras has started since I first learned about them a couple of years ago.

In my quest I've begun the hoarding... eh hem, I mean collecting of varieties from various growers and sellers.

6/27/15 - Ebay figrific Grafted Plant Black Madeira - $90 - Alive and doing well
8/27/15 - 2 Cuttings from Amazon Daniel Mitre - $20 - Both Cuttings are small but alive
12/20/15 - 3 cuttings from Ebay seller sgtwardog - $25 Currently rooting hopefully they are real
1/29/16 - 4 Cuttings from Amazon Daniel Mitre - $40 - Currently Rooting
2/18/16 - 4 Cuttings from Ebay seller rfactor12 - $64
2/18/16 - 3 Cuttings from Ebay seller Churl82 - $67
2017 - Black Madeira prepayment for a 4 rooted plants grown by webaisles greenfingardens - $60
2/26/16 - I have a trade in place for some BM cuttings for an air layer of my I-258 with a forum member. I'll probably be grafting these.
2/26/16 - And finally one Black Madeira Plant from KK on Ebay - $140 ( I know these are legitimate BMs)
2/29/16 - Just got one cutting from Cindy on the forums. I will graft this one as well and try to root what's left after I cut off one node.

No one said this hobby is cheap. That's over $500 total on Black Madeiras from different sellers. Why you ask? Obsession maybe? Maybe because if you talk to anyone that has a true Black Madeira the edge of their lips curl up and their eyes roll back into their head to fantasize about the last BM that they tasted.

It's almost orgasmic.

Daniel Mitre Black Madeira: (7 Month old Cuttings) Super slow growth. I thought they died off a couple times but luckily left them in the humidity bin and both came back to life.

Figrific grafted Black Madeira:

KKs Black Madeira

Grafted Black Madeira's on Gillette and Desert King Rootstock: I used cuttings from Rfactor12 and Churl82 from Ebay as the scion.

I hope they take and maybe this year I can finally taste a Black Madeira.

3/4/16 Update:

Showing some signs of life. There's a little bud beginning to grow on the left side of the BM scion.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Another weak moment

I could not resist. A great deal for a Melanzana Italy and Dalmatie bare root fig plants from got both with shipping from fathog987 on Ebay for less than $27 total. That's a banging deal. Hopefully they are true to type.

Windmill Gardens in Sumner, WA & Black spanish fig

I went to Windmill Gardens today in Sumner to see if I could pick up a Pineapple Guava. Unfortunately they did not have any so I ended up taking home one of these Black Spanish AKA Black Jack figs.

Address: 16009 60th St E, Sumner, WA 98390
Open today · 9AM–6PM

I'm pretty sure I already had a small one of these but I didn't want to leave empty handed after driving for over half hr to get there. =)

At $15 bucks it wasn't going to hurt the pocket book too much.

Fig of the week. #17 Petite Negra

Fig of the week. #17 Petite Negra AKA Petite Negri

Hardiness: Survives the Seattle Winter
Type: Bifere
Fruit Ripens: July and September
Fruit Color: Black with red interior
Taste: Sweet berry tones very thin skin
Fruit Weight: 29Grams Breba and 7 grams Main
Leaf Structure: 3 lobes and single lobed

This little fig is a great tasting bite size snack. However you're gonna need 2 handfuls of these to actually satisfy any cravings. It's like eating a jammy grape. Very good. I would recommend trimming this plant to a bush form to maximize the fruit production. You're definitely not at a risk for breaking branches from such tiny fruit.

Some people think this is really similar to VBD but I believe it's a completely different variety for sure. The fruit size look very different.

If you like small plants this is your best bet. It does great in containers and will stop growing at a certain size.

Compared to a longue D'aout

Sunday, February 21, 2016

What!? You can't graft that! 2/20/16 Part 1


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

I would have called you crazy if you told me that you can graft 2 cuttings together and root them with success.  The idea seems preposterous but it was proven by a Japanese gardener that it could be done and done with high success.

Of course I want to experiment with this myself. =)

I've rooted a bunch of cuttings and varieties and I've noticed that not all figs will root easily or in the same amount of time. Some can root within a week others like the Gene's Vashon take over a month.

I recently acquired 3 Fiorone di Ruvo cuttings from Ebay. These figs can grow to a relatively large size. I'm kind of a sucker for large figs. They do not even have to taste great I just like the idea of a giant fig for some strange reason.

So for this project, I took a single node and grafted it onto a Gillette which I know are super easy to root. (The rest of the cuttings were potted up using the Lasagna method)

I made sure to use an extra long and girthy piece of Gillette to graft onto to ensure a strong root stock.

I used a simple grafting technique and wrapped everything up in parafilm.

The soil medium is just bark and perlite.  A few sprits of water and into the quart bag it went. I set it on top of my Led light to give it just a couple extra degrees of heat. I hope we have some success from it. It would be interesting to see.