Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rooting Figs - Step Two.

The first step in my latest effort to root figs was completed on January 22 and February 2. I had cleaned, wrapped and stored 7 fig cuttings between those two days. The process is simple. Wash the cuttings with antibacterial dish soap, dip in a 10% bleach solution, allow the cuttings to air dry, then wrap with damp newspaper and store in a zip lock bag at room temperature. I kept mine in the basement where it's warmer and the temperature more consistent.

Four Marseilles VS cuttings were done on February 2 with the Black Missions receiving the same treatment on January 22. The Black Mission cuttings have suffered a bit over that time. Roots began to grow, and I'd do something stupid and break them off. I figured it was better to get to the next step before I sap their energy reserves completely.

First, I needed my supplies. The basic premise to rooting figs is simple. Maintain temperature and humidity, provide plenty of moisture and air to the root zone, and wait. I have a storage container, a wire rack built from hardware cloth, clear plastic cups with holes poked for drainage, and the rooting medium. I'm using an orchid mix. It's not what is suggested, but it meets the basic requirements. It holds moisture and allows plenty of air to circulate through the cups. It will also be easy to remove when I'm ready to transplant to a potting mix composed of 60% perlite and 40% peat.

The Black Mission cuttings have plenty of initials.

The Marseilles VS cuttings have a few as well. These are the white bumps on the ends of the cuttings.

This is what a preferred cutting looks like, plenty of nodes and a good 8-10" length.

The Marseilles are a bit shorter and have only two nodes each, but it's what I was given, so I will not complain. It just makes it a bit more challenging to root.

Each cutting is inserted into a plastic cup with the orchid mix. The cups are placed on a wire rack. The purpose of the rack is to keep the cuttings from contacting a cold surface such as a table top. This should help regulate temperature swings in the basement and reduce the chances of condensation which increases mold growth.

When it's finished, I used a white garbage bag to cover the top and placed the lid back on. This is a recycled container that was previously used to build my very first cloner which I haven't shown on the blog before. It worked, so I moved on to the current iteration.

Now, all I have to do is wait. It should take 4-6 weeks for enough roots to form to pot them up in the next step. I'll need to remove the lid once a day while doing my best not to disturb the roots. The cuttings still need air to survive. Once leaves are visible, they'll need light as well. I can handle that with a CFL spot light above this container. I don't have room on the plant rack for these. By the time they've rooted, the cotoneaster and other hardier cuttings will be in the hoophouse, I hope.

Speaking of the plant rack, I've got a bad case of spider mites and aphids. I trimmed the foliage from all the brug cuttings yesterday. It was destroyed in the wood stove. I treated everything with a spray made for spider mites from Spectracide. I'm hoping one more treatment will get rid of them for good.

It's 28 degrees outside, up from 23 overnight. We should reach the upper 40s today. Snow is in the forecast for Saturday morning and possibly Monday. Really. Haven't we had enough rain/sleet/snow this year? Come on!

11:42am - Third cup of coffee. All the usable firewood from the dead oak tree out back is now stacked in the basement. The last load was a good feeling.

Depending on the weather, this will probably last a week, maybe 10 days. At least it will be drier than if I left it in the gully where the water still flows freely through the stream.

It's an absolutely stunning day, if it weren't so cold.

It's 39 degrees.


Darla said...

All of this looks so good..I do hope your figs do well for you..I had a nightmare last night...that my house was infested with spider mites.......what makes one dream such things?

L. D. said...

My goal is to get a couple of light set ups going. It is in my bucket on or on my list and it is going to happen before March. You do have growth taking place, it is a good sign. I see you may be getting snow now or soon.

Tom - 7th Street Cottage said...

Me too Darla. This is my second year trying to root Marseilles. If this turns out to be the white fig I presume it is, I should be able to taste the same fruit Thomas Jefferson brought back with him from France.

The spider mites indicate that you need to dust. ;)

LD, growing under lights is a great way to get through the winter. It's helped me a lot. I can only imagine the stir crazy feelings you guys have up there. You've been at winter 3 months longer than we have.

Darla said...

Shut up! I so need to dust and had it on my list yesterday, decided to stain the cabinets in one of the bathrooms instead!! Painting again today, maybe I'll make one of the girls dust after school!

Tom - 7th Street Cottage said...

Spider mites thrive in dry, dusty conditions. They can't live in moist, humid environments. I've decided to start misting my basement plants too. It should give them less favorable conditions.

Brian David Morley said...

Tom, won't coating your brug cuttings with a soap solution take care of the spider mites? you might have to repeat it...but it should take care of them without the spectraside...I'm thinking.I try to steer clear of as many chemicals as I can, I'm not judging!

Kris said...

Wow, Tom. That's a lot of firewood! By storing it in your basement like that, do you find that you have extra ants or other insects coming into the house under the bark, etc? I have to keep mine outside for that very reason.

Tom - 7th Street Cottage said...

Brian, I tried insectisidal soap, dish soap in water, and even Murphy's Oil Soap in water, but they're right back the next day. I don't like chemicals either. The ladybugs haven't arrived this year just yet.

Kris, I do have a few critters, but since I have nowhere to store the wood where it can be kept dry, it's this, or try burning wet wood. Do ants eat spider mites?

Dar said...

Ants do eat spider mites, but they also eat your foliage. Cross-pile the ends of your wood aids in drying and keeps your pile from toppling over...
Thanks for the detail in your fig project and good luck...I sure wish we could grow them in zone 3. geeeeze
God Bless

sweetbay said...

Ah, that sapphire blue sky in the last picture. :) The clouds have rolled in now.

I haven't tried figs from cuttings before, just division. Very nice tutorial. You remind me that I need to see a method of putting cuttings in sand to try to propagate some of the wild blueberries.