The Little Fig That Could: An Update and a Nanny

The cutest little thing greeted Ms. Jeannie on the screen porch this morning…

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It’s a fig leaf, dear readers! And can you guess where it came from?

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That’s right! It came from our very own fig clipping water method! It’s hard to believe that this was the easiest most uncomplicated way to grow a fig tree. And yet, here our little dazzler is – her own version of jazz hands greeting the day.

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If you recall from previous posts, Ms. Jeannie tried two different ways to grow a fig tree from a clipping.  There was the newspaper method and the water method. After trial and error, which you can catch up on here, the clear winner was the water method. In a nutshell… cut a fig clipping in winter, stick it in a jar of water for several months and watch the roots grow.

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Then transfer the rooty clipping to a pot filled with potting soil. Ms. Jeannie at this point still kept the clipping indoors for a couple of weeks, but placed it next to a window that receives indirect sunlight. Then, on a bit of a whim one gorgeous afternoon, she moved the pot to the screened-in porch. That side of the house gets late afternoon sun for a few hours and apparently that was the ticket for this little one to sprout!

And so here we are, in newborn fig heaven.

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When this little darling sprouts a few more leaves, she’ll transfer it to a bigger pot. In the meantime, she’ll just watch it grow.

Another little delight that greeted Ms. Jeannie recently, was this fellow…

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Just like the kitty that surprised Ms. Jeannie in the fig bush last year – this visitor also found his way into the yard from the fig bushes. Perhaps there is some sort of trap door in those fig bushes! A little underground network of tunnels for stray cats, with a special sign at Ms. Jeannie’s fig roots that reads REST STOP – THIS WAY!

Whatever the case – it seems Ms. Jeannie is on some sort of list now to receive a new cat every summer. This one she has named Boy-O because he’s very clearly a chap, and he’s got green eyes and that handsome black and white coat which favors the Irish complexion.  Ms. Jeannie actually went through a whole roster of names beginning in Italy (since he was in the figs on a hot summer afternoon of course!) … there was Paolo, Giuseppe, Jono. He was completely indifferent to those names so Ms. Jeannie changed directions… Adolph, George (this was long before the royal baby!), Leo, Sam, Charlie. No interest again. Then she said in exasperation – “Boy Cat what is your name?!”  And he turned his head and looked at her. Aha! Something was ringing a bell. “Boy. Boy Cat. Boy-O? Could that be it? Boy-O?” Immediately right after she posed this question, he meowed.  Clearly there was  a winner in the name department!

So it’s been about a month now that Boy-O has visited here with Ms. Jeannie. He loves to eat and he loves to pal around with Ms. Jeannie’s two cats.  He enjoys walking around the garden, licking fallen figs and drinking out of the bird bath.   But perhaps his most favorite thing to do is nap. He loves the side porch, more than anything,  just like the little fig sprout does. Most afternoons, Ms. Jeannie sees him sprawled out like this…

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All this afternoon bonding time with the fig sprout has led Ms. Jeannie to think that perhaps Boy-O is a fig nanny. Maybe that sign in the underground tunnel reads FIG NANNIES – APPLY HERE, and Boy-O just showed up because he needed a job.

Whatever the circumstance, Ms. Jeannie is working with her local vet to try and find a home for him. It’s a daunting task as  they have their own giant book of Boy-Os that also need homes. “But mine comes with a skill,” Ms. Jeannie told them. “And he’s dedicated!” The proof is in the pictures…

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Fig nannies just don’t come along every day, dear readers, so if you know of anyone – who might need such a talent, than Boy-O is their man(cat).

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Figs For All! How to Grow A Fig Tree In Your Garden

The two fig bushes in Ms. Jeannie's yard, as pictured last summer.
The two fig bushes in Ms. Jeannie’s yard, as pictured last summer.

In preparation for some spring gardening projects, our dear blog reader, Amy, sent in a gardening question about fig trees and whether or not she would be able to grow them from cuttings in her neighborhood, which happens to be arid Arizona.

Instantly, Ms. Jeannie thought sure, why not grow them in Arizona since figs first originated thousands of years ago in  Arabia. But she wasn’t sure about the cutting department, so she did a little investigation on Amy’s behalf.

Lucky for us, Ms. Jeannie learned that since they are one of the oldest fruit trees in the world, they have now been adapted and modified to grow in just about any climate. Which is good news for all fig lovers! So first order of business is to determine which type of fig tree that will grow best in your neck of the woods…please consult this list.

Next, once you’ve found the right variety, you can visit your local nursery or garden store and either buy a small fig tree that has already been started or you can order a cutting online and start your own.  Ms. Jeannie found this great video on youtube from the NewEnglandGardener which takes you step by step through the cutting process…

Ms. Jeannie was so inspired by the video – she decided to try her own clipping project, following the NewEnglandGardeners  helpful guide. Here is what Ms. Jeannie used…

1. Garden Scissors 2. Publix Grocery Flyer 3. Quart size Ziploc bag 4. 7' inch fig tree cutting
1. Garden Scissors 2. Publix Grocery Flyer 3. Quart size Ziploc bag 4. fig tree cutting (this one is 7″ inches)

She clipped a section that had a green sprout already (in hopes that it will encourage more!)

Close-up of clipping
Close-up of clipping

Here’s the finished product. Now we wait for a few weeks and see what happens. Ms. Jeannie is going to keep the bag in her kitchen stairwell, which seems to collect all the heat in the house.

Grow big, little fig!
Grow big, little fig!

Please keep in mind, as noted in the video – growing trees does not happen over night. It will take a few years to get your cutting tree well established. However – they are fairly fast growers, so you’ll see changes over the course of months instead of years, like some other trees.

This is what the fig trees in Ms. Jeannie’s yard look like now, in the middle of winter (aka the dormant season, as the NewEnglandGardener refers to in the video)

A picture of the fig trees taken today. Stickily looking things in winter, but they still retain a nice shape.
A picture of Ms. Jeannie’s fig trees taken today. Stickily looking things in winter, but they still retain a nice shape.

If you look closely, you can see they already have buds emerging even though it is only January. This is a perfect stage now, to take a clipping.

You can see two of last year's figs now dried on the twig. Ms. Jeannie wonders if this is inspiration for the new shoot!
You can see two of last year’s figs now dried on the twig. Ms. Jeannie wonders if this is inspiration for the new shoot!

Isn’t it amazing that this little sprout will grow from a tiny little wonder into this, in only about 3 short months…

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The fig trees in Ms. Jeannie’s  yard are over 12 years old and reach about 10′ feet high x 8′ feet wide. They’ve been pruned every once in awhile but otherwise, are incredibly low-maintenance. You may recall, last summer, the two fig bushes in Ms. Jeannie’s yard had a banner production season. There must have been hundreds of figs that plumped up from July thru September.

Mostly she passed buckets along to her friends, ate a few cups each day and froze gallon bagfuls for a jam lesson that never quite came into fruition. No problem though, as of late, Ms. Jeannie has been enjoying the frozen figs in her morning yogurt shake.  Why add ice cubes when you can add some frozen figs instead?!

All you do is just pick, rinse and air-dry the figs and then pop them into a freezer bag and stick them in the freezer.
All you do is just pick, rinse and air-dry the figs and then pop them into a freezer bag and stick them in the freezer.

Ms. Jeannie tosses these little frozen delights right  into the blender, straight out of the freezer in this state.  They make the shake cold and add extra vitamins to the start of her day.  Figs are high in vitamin K (good for blood clotting), vitamin E (protection from cell damage) and vitamin B6 (good for the nervous system, the breaking down of glucose and for cell energy).

They also contain the minerals manganese (good for your bones) and  potassium (good for your blood pressure)  and  are also really high in dietary fiber.  A delicious superfood!  This is Ms. Jeannie’s recipe for her morning shake, if you are so inclined to try it…

Yogurt Fruit Shake

Makes two 8oz. glasses

1/2 cup organic 2% milk

6 whole frozen figs

1 banana (broken into 4 sections)

1 cup fat free vanilla yogurt

1 quarter fresh cantaloupe (rind removed and roughly chopped)

Add all ingredients in the blender and pulse on low until all the figs break down into pieces (about 30 seconds). Then put the blender on crush and let it mix for about a minute, which blends all the fruit and incorporates air to make it light and fluffy. If the shakes seems too thick, you can add more milk. Otherwise pour and enjoy!  You can also add different types of fruit if you like. This is a really basic recipe and can be modified eighty million different ways!

Ms. Jeannie hopes this mini fig lesson will blossom into something wonderful for Amy and anyone one else with figgy aspirations.  If you decide to start a fig tree from a clipping, keep us posted on how your progress goes. Ms. Jeannie in turn, will keep you updated on hers as well.  Happy growing!!!

Surprise in the Fig Bush!

It’s fig season in Ms. Jeannie’s world!  They have been coming in over the past week now in full force, which means picking every day.

It’s fig season!

With all that rain yesterday (over 1.25″ inches) from Hurricane Issac, Ms. Jeannie went out to pick today, prepared with a big bucket. Joining the mosquitoes, bees and butterflies, Ms. Jeannie set to task picking and pulling. As she got closer to the center of the bush, she discovered a surprise…

Garden Surprise

A stray grey cat! He turned out to be very sweet and quite a fig picking companion. Apparently he had quite a story to tell too – meowing the whole time…

Quite a handsome little thing, Ms. Jeannie is not sure where he came from, so she’ll call around to the neighbors and see if anyone is missing a sociable pal. In the meantime, he seems content to explore the yard here at Ms. Jeannie’s.

As for the figs…Ms. Jeannie’s bucket overflowed with over 5lbs! A friend is going to be giving her a jam lesson – so she’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.