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Watch Cuttings Root

Fig cuttings in bag with callus on exposed endThis year I pre-rooted my fig cuttings in clear plastic bags before potting them up.

I usually just stick my fig cuttings straight into a pot containing soilless potting mix. I get good results, so haven’t experimented much. Click here to see a previous post where I explain how I prepare, store, and root fig cuttings.

But a while back I printed off an interesting article from the website about rooting cuttings in a bag. I’ve been itching to try it…and now I have. If you haven’t explored this site before, check it out—there’s oodles of good information.

Cuttings with callus and rootsThe cuttings-in-a-bag technique worked beautifully and I recommend it. I had callusing and roots before potting up my cuttings. That means there’s less chance of cuttings rotting in damp potting mix.

After I sealed the paper-towel wrapped cuttings in clear bags I put them on the heated floor in my kitchen. I left half an inch of branch unwrapped, and that’s where the roots formed. Keep the paper towel moist—but not so wet that there is any water pooling within the bag. Then, all you have to do is wait and watch!

Rooted fig cuttings are potted up. After they are watered, i put a clear plastic dome over the top to keep conditions humid while they continue rooting and start to grow.


Turn up the Heat

Use thermal mass to increase the amount of heat your figs get. Around here, we’re only a couple of months away from that first fall frost that puts an end to any hope of ripening more figs.For someone like me, with no background in energy, the comment sounded profound; yet so simple.

The alternative energy expert (whom I interviewed about home energy generation) told me not to forget “thermal mass,” which, he felt, is as important as generating energy. In his projects, he combined solar and geothermal technologies with the idea of thermal mass.

What he meant by thermal mass was using building materials that capture and then slowly release heat, materials such as tile and concrete. It was very logical, of course, but I’d never thought about it before.

We’re in the middle of a heat wave here in the Toronto area. Yet already, the nights are becoming cooler. As temperature swings between day and night become greater, using thermal mass in the garden is a technical-sounding, yet simple way to given fig plants more heat. Remember: More heat for our fig plants means more ripe figs before the fall frost arrives!

If you already have your fig near a paved driveway or brick wall, then it’s benefitting from thermal mass. At night, the driveway or brick slowly radiates heat that has been stored during the day, keeping the air temperature around your figs a bit warmer.

I was reminded of this a couple of weeks ago when I visited my friend Andrea, who recently planted a fig hedge (which she intends to overwinter with an insulated A-frame). As I stepped—barefoot—onto her patio, the dark stone singed my feet. It was scorching hot. When it rained a short while later, the stone dried within minutes because it was so darn hot!

Andrea’s figs have a really great “micro-climate.” They’re surrounded by that heat-capturing and heat-radiating stone. At night, those figs bathe in radiated heat. All thanks to thermal mass.


Fig Hedge

My fig hedge is looking nice, with the neighbouring peonies adding splashes of pink.

Over the winter, I lay the potted figs in the trench and cover with mulch. The trench becomes my fig hedge over the summer. In the spring, I put the potted figs in an upright position in the trench, and then mulch so that the ugly black pots are out of sight.


Confessions of a Hungry Fig Pig

Join me this Sunday, April 24 at Plant World in Toronto as I talk about growing figs in cold climates. I'll share the story of my own journey into growing delicious, sun-ripened figs here in Toronto.

2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Click here for details.


Want to grow figs in Toronto?

Biggs on figsI'm giving a talk about growing fig trees at North York Central Library on April 12. Come learn about figs and get answers to your questions about growing figs in Toronto!