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…


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!!!


Mexican Sunflowers: The IHOP of the Flower World

Ms. Jeannie has never been to an International House of Pancakes that wasn’t packed. Usually with a waiting line out the door.

Now, she must confess that she has probably been to IHOP only about  a dozen times in her life, but that doesn’t matter because there have been a million people before and after her that could more than make up for her irregularity. She’s sure of this. She’s seen them all eat pancakes.

The IHOP experience that Ms. Jeannie knows is a hustle and bustle of serving trays and laughing kids, bottomless coffee carafes and  mile long little league tables. Glass upon glass of orange juice and seat upon seat of grandparent.  The smell of bacon and butter, the scraping of silverware, the staking of plates.

Service is fast. You sit down, your coffee comes right along, you decide, you order and  moments later you eat. The thing that amazes Ms. Jeannie most about IHOP though is their sheer volume of traffic and turnover.  Each time she is there, it seems like everybody woke up with the same idea. “Let’s go to BREAKFAST!” Right now.

This same zest for morning decadence seemed to be occurring in Ms. Jeannie’s garden this very day.

The bees, the birds, the butterflies were all abuzz! So much so that they were literally flying into Ms. Jeannie as she stood watering her Mexican Sunflowers. They couldn’t wait to get by her, diving down, flying up, brushing against –  it was a veritable feeding frenzy!  The petals were open!  Breakfast was on!

Here is just a sampling of  the crowd…

Swallowtail Butterfly
Ground Bee
Carpenter Bees
Ms. Jeannie thinks this might be a Dull Firetip Moth – but she’s not 100% sure. Does anybody else know?
American Painted Lady Butterfly

Hummingbirds have been spotted too – but Ms. Jeannie  has yet to have her camera ready when they come calling. They are such fast little things.

It is interesting to watch the bees interact with the butterflies.  They sort of kick the  butterflies out of the way so that they can dive deeper into the nectar. Ms. Jeannie doesn’t think the serving staff at IHOP would approve of that behavior.

There were high hopes for her Mexican sunflowers this year. It was Ms. Jeannie’s  mission to hide the meter box along the south side of the house with a mexican sunflower screen. Her seeds started out great. 20 plants came to life!

When they were about a foot tall. a critter of some sort came and rooted up 14 plants.  Ms. Jeannie suspects it might have been the workings of a mischievous armadillo that she she’s every once in while wandering about.

The six plants that remained grew and grew and grew (almost 6 feet tall). Practically filling out the whole area the original 20 would have occupied. So industrious!

Then two back to back wind storms last week took 4 more plants out.  Leaving just two behind. There is just no controlling that Mother Nature.

The two remainders  are flowering beautifully though, so Ms. Jeannie doesn’t dare complain. They are growing lots of new shoots too. So perhaps they will bush out some more and cover the bare spots.

Anyway – this is a photo of them as they stand now. It is amazing to think that all this came from just two seeds.

Considered weeds in Mexico and South American countries, Mexican sunflowers are really easy to grow. Requiring little water and lots of sun, it is best to plant them in the hottest driest place in your garden. Ms. Jeannie only waters hers every few days, as too much water, yields lots of green leaves but not a lot of flowers.

Ms. Jeannie just adores them. They grow fast and big. Their leaves and stems feel soft like velvet, their flowers are a bright citrus orange and they feed the flying squad. What’s not to love?! It’s right up there with bottomless coffee and endless stacks of pancakes.

A Birthday Bouquet!

Oh my dears, Ms. Jeannie was giddy all weekend in anticipation of this very blog post! She is happy to announce that on Saturday morning, her birthday, she was able to walk out into her garden and clip her very own birthday bouquet. Just as she had hoped for all those cool, dreary months ago, when she was  planting seeds in the soil and dreaming of a lush summer garden.

The first bouquet of the season! Moulin Rouge and Drop Dead Red varieties.

Since Saturday, flowers have been opening up, by what seems like, the minute. Every time Ms. Jeannie steps out she sees something new in bloom! If you recall Ms. Jeannie planted a bevy of sunflowers, in a range of colors. Here’s what blooming today…

A multitude of sunflowers! Clockwise (left to right): Autumn Beauty, Girasol and Del Sol Hybrid.
Moulin Rouge Sunflower – not quite sure what those whitish splatters are!
Autumn Beauty Sunflower
Del Sol Sunflowers. They all contain clusters of blooms! The more the merrier Ms. Jeannie says!

These particular Gold Honey Bear sunflowers (below) definitely remind Ms. Jeannie of the Vincent Van Gogh paintings she blogged about in March…

Goldy Honey Bear Sunflower

And what’s fun about the Moulin Rouge variety…

Moulin Rouge Sunflower

is that some of the backsides of them are just as interesting as the front! Some contain stripes of golden yellow on the backsides…

Colorful reverse!

while others are as black in color as a flower can possibly be. Darker then espresso, even. Ms. Jeannie took these photographs so you could see the color difference yourself…

From black to red – sunflowers are quite diverse!

And a close up of the black one. It’s very striking!

Drop Dead Red Variety

These two on the vine are forming a lover’s knot!

Sunflower love!
Sunflowers are peeking out everywhere!
And they wave happy in the wind!

Ms. Jeannie even has a fellow appreciator of the garden, who as recently taken up residence above the Mexican Sunflowers (those flower pictures coming soon).

Mockingbird in the garden.

Here, he is perched on a bird feeder up above the vegetable garden. Ms. Jeannie saw him pull a fat tomato horn worm off her tomato plant the other day. Thank you Mr. Mockingbird:)

It’s so rewarding to be a grower;)

Fruits & Flowers – Garden Update: Day 68

Here it is, my dears, just over 2 months from original plant date and we some fruit from all of our labor!

The jalapenos are almost ready for picking!


The cherry tomatoes were a surprise!  The seedlings were given to Ms. Jeannie as a gift by a farmer at the farmers market, who had under-estimated his seedling growing abilities.   Ms. Jeannie, at the time, didn’t think to ask him what kinds of tomato plants they were, assuming, most likely,  they were some sort of traditional red summer tomato. But to her surprise, one plant turned out to be yellow cherry tomatoes! Always such a pretty choice in summer dishes! The other plant is growing much bigger tomatoes so we’ll just have to wait and see what those develop into! Since she was so forunate with the yellows – Ms. Jeannie is secretly hoping the others are a purple heirloom variety!

Yellow Cherry Tomatoes

Bell peppers are growing bigger every day!  Ms. Jeannie is holding out for red ones so she has to fight the urge to pick them early!

Bell Peppers

And a red sunflower nestled between stalks and leaves just opened up yesterday. He’s in a tricky little spot so it’s hard to get a good picture. Perhaps he’s a little shy!

Red Sunflower

Coming soon: English peas, Mexican sunflowers, snow peas, sweet potatoes, mystery tomatoes and many many many more sunflowers:)

Garden Update: Day 47 – A Sunflower Is Born Just as War Comes to Town

Oh my darlings, today is a celebratory day. Ms. Jeannie is pleased to announce that there has been a birth! A petite little beauty greeted the day. Here she is…

The first sunflower of the season!

This was from the Botanical Interests Autumn Beauty seed packet, which all have red, orange or gold petals with brown centers.  It’s supposed to reach heights of 5′ to 8′ feet tall but this little gem is only about 2.5′ feet tall. She must be an early bloomer:)

You can see her height best in this picture…

In the land of the giants, a small flower blooms.

In the midst of all this excitement Ms. Jeannie did experience a little set-back this week. It appears some sort of war rampaged in the garden. Ms. Jeannie lost 3 of the troops…

The sunflower tops were severed.

Ms. Jeannie is not sure what happened. Her first guess was deer, thinking they bit it right off. Here’s another angle…

Same stalk – different angle.

This is the second stalk that was tampered with…

Casualty #2

And the third…

Casualty #3

Whatever it was, deer, worm, bug…it didn’t eat the tops of the leaves. Ms. Jeannie found two in the dirt inside the beds and one in the grass next to the trough.


All the destruction occurred in the same section but not with stems right next to each other. It is a bit of a mystery as to what happened. Ms. Jeannie was a little ruffled at the scene. If a deer ate the sunflowers for nutrition, then fine, but just to bite it for no reason and then leave the tops to wither seems wasteful and unnecessary.

Ms. Jeannie is hoping that the stalks, which are still in hearty shape, might recover, and grow new leaves. So she  will leave them be to see what happens.

She also consulted her handy dandy Bug Book that’s for sale in her Etsy shop

The Bug Book: Harmless Insect Controls by Helen and John Philbrick

In case it is a bug of destruction, they recommended spraying a solution of Dawn dish soap, water and rubbing alcohol on the sunflowers to create a sticky environment.    So Ms. Jeannie sprayed all her garden with this and so far there has seemed to be no other damage.

If it is deer, that are eating the sunflowers, Ms. Jeannie is not quite sure what she will do yet. If you have any suggestions. Please let her know!

Garden Update: Day 41

We have a bud, ladies and gentlemen! That’s right – one sunflower bud is on it’s way to flowering!

A sunflower is hatching!

Funny enough, this is one of the little guys that sprouted long after the others. It’s only 14″inches tall while most of all the other sunflowers are now 3″ feet tall.

Bird’s eye view!
Full length view!

Do you remember Ms. Jeannie’s other garden patch project? The one that involved the hard to make, impractical but so so beautiful twig fencing? Well, Ms Jeannie discovered that yes indeed – it is definietly hard to make a twig fence. Hats off to all of you that have the paitence to muddle through such construction.

Ms. Jeannie fears that she is a tad short in that department!

After what seemed like a thousand trips into the woods to find perfectly straight, not too big, not too little sticks, Ms. Jeannie discovered that she had only gathered enough to build about 1/16th of her fencing. Goodness gracious!

So the fencing plan was modified just a smidge.

Revised garden fence!

Ms. Jeannie wrapped her garden in 1″inch strips of hardwood and heavy duty steel wire instead. It is still impractical and won’t keep any sort of small critter out, but Ms. Jeannie loves it’s rustic look!  The twigs were re-purposed as a little decorative barrier at the front and back of the garden.

Front entry still needs some sort of gate.

Ms. Jeannie clipped some wild thistle and hung it at the entrance for a little early color. Mr. Jeannie Ology found a buzzard feather that same day, so added to the bouquet it was!

Wild spring bouquet.

The vegetables and herbs don’t seem to mind that the fence is sort of quirky. They just keep growing anyway! Both tomato plants are already flowering!

Tomato plant tucked between three different types of sunflowers, garden peas, snow peas and cosmos.
The start of the tomatoes!

Ms. Jeannie also had to make some amendments to the garden after a cutting worm or two came to enjoy some sprout salad. Ms. Jeannie has filled in the bare patches with cosmos flower seeds and peas around the garden edge.

Besides the bin of three feet tall sunflowers, Ms. Jeannie also has two other water troughs full of sunflowers. They were planted a couple of weeks later then the initial batch of sunflowers to help stagger the bloom time, so they are just getting their soil legs now, so to say. This morning they were just peeking over the rims of the troughs.

Trough #2
Trough #3

After learning so much about the starlings, Ms. Jeannie is on the watch for other birds in her garden. She’s delighted to find that a woodpecker now comes to visit every morning! He sure is a handsome thing…

Garden Update: Day 31

Well my dears, in what surely must be some sort of record, the sunflowers have grown an amazing 11 inches since our last garden update 14 days ago.

11 inches in 14 days! Ms. Jeannie’s going to need to get a longer ruler!

That’s about 3/4 of an inch per day!

Over 14″ inches tall as of today!

How exciting! Ms. Jeannie’s not trying to rush the days – but she can’t wait until they flower:)

Just to refresh- the target bloom date is Ms. Jeannie’s birthday – June 16th. A month and a half away. If they continue on this growing rate they will be about 55″ inches tall in mid-June, which would put that at about 4.5′ feet tall.

According to the seed packet, this Moulin Rouge variety of red sunflower reaches an average height of  6′ feet tall, so we don’t quite know yet if Ms. Jeannie will have that birthday bouquet or not. Oh the garden suspense!

Garden Update: Day 16

Today marks day 16 of the garden growing process. Ms. Jeannie woke to find the very tips of her little sunflower seedlings just barely peeking over the brim of their vintage water trough container…

Just peeking!

She brought her ruler along with her when she went out to water this morning.  The seedlings are just a hair under 3″ inches tall now.

The most amazing part though is that on some of them the leaf span is almost 6″ inches wide! Goodness gracious they are growing up and out!