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Figs are one of the easiest plants to propagate from dormant cuttings. By this method of cloning you will get a plant that is an exact copy of the “mother” plant, unlike seeds which will have probably cross pollinated and give you almost unlimited variety. Seed grown fruits are usually inferior to either of the parents.  Below are the steps we use to reproduce these tasty fruiting plants.

  1. Select cuttings from a dormant plant ( one in which the leaves have dropped and is hardwood)
  2. Most likely the cuttings will already have been exposed to sufficient chill hours to come out of dormancy. Chill hours are calculated by adding up the number of hours  the temperatures is between 32 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Chill hours interrupt growth hormones and make it possible for a tree to enter dormancy.  Figs only require 100-200 hours.  If unsure put cuttings in a sealed baggie and put in your refrigerator for 2 weeks.
  3. When ready to start growth, trim the cuttings and make sure they are about 6-8″ long, at least pencil thickness or greater and have at least 4 buds.
  4. Rinse cuttings under running water for a few seconds to wash off any bacteria or mold spores, no scrubbing, just a quick rinse.
  5. Take the cuttings and cut the bottom at a 45 degree angle. This exposes more cambium for better rooting. If you have cut off the top or terminal end (end of a branch) cover this cut with normal Elmer’s glue to seal and prevent moisture loss. At this point you can dip the cut (bottom) end in rooting hormone, but we have not seem any difference using it.
  6. Prepare cuttings by wrapping the cuttings into a bundle with a damp, not wet, paper towel. Wrap the bottom but leave the top bud unwrapped.
  7.  Do not let the wife see you using her kitchen utensils or dining room table.
  8. Now that cuttings are wrapped, put into a 1 gal zip lock bag and place in a warm spot such as the top of a refrigerator.
    Wrapped in ziplock

    Fig Cuttings wrapped in damp paper towel in zip lock bag

     

  9. Check the cuttings once or twice a week to see how rooting is progressing. At first you will see little white bumps, this is where roots will first appear. Most of these bumps disappear when exposed to a dryer environment.
  10. When the roots have gotten 3/4 – 1″ long, usually 2-3 weeks depending on temperature, it is time to pot them up.  They will have stem and leaf growth very apparent at this time.
    Unwrapped group

    Root initials and shoots forming

    New roots and shoot

    Close-up of new roots and shoot development

    The best way to grow is using the small disposable plastic cups that people buy for parties. SOLO brand 18 oz. cups are the perfect ones. Any container will do but these allow you to see and monitor the root growth. Make sure to drill 4-5 holes for drainage in the bottom of the cup. The cutting can store a huge amount of carbohydrates which means a fig can grow stems and leaves and look great without having any or enough roots to support itself in a dry environment.

  11. We use 100% perlite but a mix with peat or a good sterile potting mix will work.  perlite holds moisture and is sterile, but also allows better root viewing in the cup.
  12. Do not let your wife catch you potting these on the dining room table!
  13. Place the cuttings in the cup with at least 2 buds below the soil line and 2 above it. Pinch off any shoots or green growth that will be below the soil line. We want all the energy to be focused on top growth. Don’t worry about any roots above the soil line as these will dry up and disappear in a few days.

    new potted in perlite

    Pot up cuttings into perlite

  14. Because we have gone from 100% humidity to much less we need to hold in moisture and gradually harden the plant off as it develops enough roots to keep up with transpiration. We use a smaller disposable cup in our containers to cover the cutting like a mini greenhouse. A plastic sandwich bag also works well. Make sure to keep the cups well watered.

    cups on top

    Cover the newly planted cuttings to hold in humidity

  15. Place the plants in a warm location out of direct light. Direct light will overheat them. Every 2-3 days take the cover off to give fresh air and reduce any possibility of fungus or molds developing. After about 2 weeks they can be watered with a weak solution of fertilizer (1/3 – 1/2 strength) every third watering.

    removed cups

    Fig cuttings growing with humidity cover no longer needed

  16. Depending on temperature most will have enough roots to sustain themselves after  a month and can now be potted up to a 1 gal container. We use 1 gallon size since it holds more media and will stay damp evenly for longer than a smaller size. The ones that have not developed will need to be kept longer in the cups until roots develop.
  17. Keep well watered and start exposing them to filtered sunlight gradually moving up full light.
  18. Now you are in the fig business and ready to grow on or give to friends!
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Below is an excellent reprint of a short post on cooking with Quince. One of our favorites is to add one quince to 12 apples for a delicious pink applesauce.  The varieties we carry are unusual because they can also be eaten fresh and it is obvious the author has only run across the other more common types. If all you had was Granny Smith you would assume apples were all tart and only good for cooking, the same with quince. It’s all in variety selection.

Quince: The Tough Fall Fruit With a Secret Reward

Around this time of year I feel like it is both my duty and my pleasure to write a missive on quince. Do you know quince? It’s a fall fruit that grows in a manner quite like apples and pears — but its similarities end there. Quince is a tough fruit, not well known, and often hard to come by. But it has the most amazing sweet and secret reward. Here’s how to get at it.

The Challenges of Quince

Quince is an ancient fruit, found in Roman cooking and grown across Turkey and southeast Asia. It grows on small trees and is closely related to apples and pears, but it lacks their immediate edibility and appeal.The fruit is knobbly and ugly, with an irregular shape and often a gray fuzz — especially when the fruit has been picked underripe. The ripest, nicest quince will have a golden tone and smooth skin like pictured directly above. But even ripe quince doesn’t taste very good raw.

Quince may be the most difficult, yet consequently rewarding, fruit I have ever encountered. It’s completely inedible when raw, which puts it even above the Hachiya persimmon in unapproachable astringency. (At least the persimmon will ripen, eventually, into edible sweetness.) It also has an extremely tough and spongy flesh, which is difficult to cut up; I fear for my fingers every time I attack the woody, oddly spongy yet unyielding interior of a quince. So why even bother with these fruits? You can’t eat them raw, and they’re not even tasty? That’s where the surprise comes in.

The Secret Rewards of Quince

The first clue that quince hides something special is its aroma. If you leave a quince on a sunny windowsill it will slowly release a delicate fragrance of vanilla, citrus, and apple into your kitchen. It’s a heady, perfumed scent that is completely at odds with its appearance. And then, if you peel a quince and hack it up, then cook it, those scents blossom into an indescribably wonderful perfume, and the fruit itself magically turns from yellowed white to a deep rosy pink. When you stew quince in sugar and a little water or wine, it becomes not just edible but delicious — sweet, delicate, fragrant. See how to cook it here:

→ Our guide to cooking quince: How To Cook Quince

What to Do With Cooked Quince

Once the quince is cooked, it’s soft and tender, usually with a really lovely syrup from the cooking process. You eat the fruit straight like this, or pour it over yogurt, or bake it into a tart. You can make a sweet, spicy paste out of it (known as membrillo in Spain) that is magnificent with cheese. I love making sorbet and other desserts with it too.

Quince Recipes from The Kitchn

Fall Recipe: Quince & Vanilla Sorbet

Why Don’t We Eat More Quince?

Quince are not nearly as popular as apples and pears, of course, and the work of cooking them is part of this. I wonder if this has protected them, however, from the mass production and flattening of taste that afflicts so many popular fruits today. I was amazed in France at how delicious the local grapes were — but they were full of seeds. The process that breeds the seeds out of grapes seems to inevitably take the taste away.

But we’ve chosen convenience over flavor in our fruit, so in that sense I am glad that quince are still semi-forgotten and unpopular. If they were bred to be more consumer-friendly I wonder if that wonderful aroma would be dulled or lost. If it means keeping that astonishing flavor I am happy to peel, chop, simmer, and work hard to transform them from ugly stepsister to belle of the ball.

The Pleasure of Transformation

And perhaps this magical transformation, in the end, is what makes quince so appealing. It’s like a magic trick, a miracle of water into wine: take an inedible, ugly fruit, and produce something delicious. Add in the fact that quince are often hard to find (that element of the hunt, you know), and you can see how I’ve become more than a little obsessed.

Faith Durand

Faith is executive editor of The Kitchn and author of three cookbooks, including the James Beard Award-winning The Kitchn Cookbook, coauthored with Sara Kate Gillingham, as well as Bakeless Sweets. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.

For a while now we have wanted a more defined entryway to the nursery and orchard.  We have watched the lay of the land and the usage patterns to determine the best location.  We all agreed that we wanted something in a southwest style but not too formal.  Because the age old building style of a ramada is eco-friendly and uses sustainable resources this was our choice. The fact that since it is native wood and you require no carpentry skills to look good, never entered into our minds. It’s crookedness is what gives it the rustic charm!  Shade is always at a premium so with this covered entryway we can grow vines over it to give us some much needed respite in this type of weather.  The pergola or “ramada” is approximately 10 foot wide by 20 foot long and 9 feet high. When needed it is still big enough to get a pickup through. Hope to get it finished Saturday and post some more pictures

Russell measured and dug holes, checking the hypotenuse to be sure we were straight

Russell measured and dug holes, checking the hypotenuse to be sure we were straight

The same was done on the left side

The same was done on the left side

 

Tying posts together with support poles

Tying posts together with support poles

Support posts in place enough to hold things together. We will go add a few across the center portion

Support posts in place enough to hold things together. We will go add a few across the center portion

Added a few latillas to check spacing.  We think every 6 inches looks about right

Added a few latillas to check spacing. We think every 6 inches looks about right

Several types of trees are planted or started from seed.  They may go on to be rootstock for other, better quality varieties or they may be grown for their own merits.  This is a process planned well in advance.  In early we fall we received our pecan seed.  It was sourced from the northernmost range of the cold hardy pecan in Iowa.  We then needed to cold stratify the seed.  Seed Stratification is explained by the following:

— A type of imposed dormancy found in seeds is internal dormancy regulated by the inner seed tissues. This dormancy prevents seed of many species from germinating when environmental conditions are not favorable for survival of the seedlings. There are several different degrees or types of internal dormancy. One type of internal dormancy is “shallow” and simply disappears with dry storage. Many vegetable seeds display this type of dormancy. No special treatments are necessary to overcome this kind of dormancy.

However, another type of internal dormancy requires special treatments to overcome. Seeds having this type of dormancy will not germinate until subjected to a particular duration of moist-prechilling and/or moist-warm periods.

Cold stratification (moist-prechilling) involves mixing seeds with an equal volume of a moist medium (sand or peat, for example) in a closed container and storing them in a refrigerator (approximately 40oF). Periodically, check to see that the medium is moist but not wet. The length of time it takes to break dormancy varies with particular species; check reference books to determine the recommended amount of time. This type of dormancy may be satisfied naturally if seeds are sown outdoors in the fall.

The problem with planting in the fall is they easily become food for squirrels and gophers!  We soaked the seed 24 hours in warm water to start the breakdown of the shell and then kept in the fridge at about 34 degrees in damp peat moss.  In early April we planted our pecan seed.

Planting is rather straightforward.  We pulled existing weeds and rototilled the 50 foot row.  After that we added about 2” of compost and rototilled again.  A rake gave us a nice smooth seed bed to plant in.  These were placed horizontally at 6” spacing.  Placing vertically on Pecan, Hickory and Walnut gives a poor germination rate.

After planting we replaced the drip tape and mulched with straw about 3-4” deep.  Pecans and many nuts will germinate and grow roots for a few months before actually starting any upward growth.  Almost 2 months exactly and we are seeing the first tree break ground!  We will field grow these for this year and containerize in the dormant season for sale or to use as understock for grafting.

 

After rototilling 3" of compost is added

After rototilling 3″ of compost is added

 

Seedbed is raked and ready to plant

Seedbed is raked and ready to plant

You are never to young to plant a tree

You are never to young to plant a tree

Time to put that knowledge to work!

Time to put that knowledge to work!

Summer Grafting Get-Together

When: July 12th
Time: 9:00am to 11:00 am approx.
Where: At Road’s End Farm
What: An informal class on using T-Budding and Chip Budding techniques for warm weather grafting of fruit trees.
This is an informal, outdoors, hands on group setting to learn how to use these styles of grafting to propagate fruit trees.
Why: To save grandma’s heirloom peach tree, to get an exact replica of that “perfect plum” you don’t know the name of, to make a “fruit cocktail tree” with multiple types of fruit on one tree. Or just for fun!

Bud GraftWe will be focusing on Pear, Peach, Plum and Apricot and we expect to have another event in late August on Apples. RSVP is a must and seating is very limited for this one. Send an email to reserve your spot to NMFruitGrowers@aol.com and you will be selected in the order received. Again this is not a demonstration, it is a hands on, get dirty, you will graft some trees, event!
There is no tuition cost on this class to the selected participants. We ask you bring your own very sharp pocket knife or a box cutter type knife, water, hat etc. Dress for the weather. We will supply all other items. You can collect budwood from our orchard or bring your own. We will ask for how many rootstock you will need and these we will charge $4.00 each (our cost) as a potted plant. We will send instructions on collecting and saving your own budwood.

The 2014 Spring Catalog has been emailed out! If you did not get a copy we may have an old email address for you or a typo. S2014 Catalog-Springend us an email to NMFruitGrowers@aol.com and we will send it right away.

http://www.cornucopia.org/2013/07/organic-methods-hold-water/

Organic Methods Hold Water
July 31st, 2013

The Rodale Institute celebrates the success of its 30-year Farming Systems Trial.

When rain gets scarce, we turn a tap, and water flows readily from hoses and sprinklers in yards across the nation, making it easy for us to take the resource for granted. But with climatologists predicting weather extremes in all corners of the globe in the next century, wise water use will become even more critical for all American  gardeners and farmers. Hardiness zones have already changed in just the past 20 years; warm-region growing conditions are moving farther and farther north. And drier conditions are racing north, as well. Drought already costs U.S. citizens $6 billion to $8 billion a year on average, and according to a study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, we could face extreme drought within just 30 years.

This could mean devastating crop failures, water shortages, and widespread water restrictions. With a warmer, drier environment on the horizon, turning on the hose or sprinkler to quench a thirsty garden might not be an option.

In response to the changing climate, the big three chemical-producing companies—DuPont, Monsanto, and Syngenta—are in a heated race to be the first to release a drought-tolerant variety of corn. Both genetically modified and standard-bred hybrids are in the works. They may claim feeding an ever-expanding world population as their altruistic motivation, but making millions from drought-stricken farmers makes for a lucrative incentive: Feeding the bottom line is any public corporation’s duty.

While drought-tolerant varieties are a valuable piece of the puzzle, another solution already exists—one that farmers and gardeners can practice immediately, without paying for specialized seeds. And it’s a solution that has scientific research to back it.

The Rodale Institute’s Farming Systems Trial (FST) has been tracking the performance of organically grown grain crops (such as corn and soybeans) and conventional, synthetic-chemical-reliant grain crops for the past 30 years. As America’s longest-running side-by-side comparison of these farming systems, the FST has revealed that crops grown organically are truly healthier and hardier in the long run, and better able to cope with weather extremes. Organic fields in the FST produce just as much as the chemical-reliant fields, despite claims that organic farming uses more resources to produce less food. But it is the performance of the organic fields during drought years that is truly amazing.

In four out of five drought years, the organically grown corn produced significantly more than the conventionally grown corn. The organic corn of the FST was even more successful under drought conditions than the drought-tolerant seed varieties were in the industry trials. The Rodale Institute’s organically managed fields produced between 28.4 percent and 33.7 percent more corn than conventionally managed fields under drought conditions.

Monsanto boasted that it’s genetically modified drought-tolerant corn was “one of our most significant R&D milestones,” producing between 6.7 percent and 13.4 percent more under drought conditions than other corn varieties. DuPont touts hybrids that produce 5 percent more on average, and Syngenta, which is leading the pack, has managed to produce 15 percent more with its drought-tolerant seeds.

“The organic matter in soil acts like a sponge, providing water reserves to plants during drought periods and preventing water from running off the soil surface in times of heavy rains,” says Rita Seidel, agroecologist and FST project leader at the Rodale Institute. “This organic matter has significantly increased in the FST organic fields and is actually diminishing in the conventional fields.”

Even in times of severe water shortage, not only can organic fields produce a more successful crop, but they continue to contribute to our drinking water reserves. In the FST, the organic fields recharged groundwater at rates 15 to 20 percent higher than the conventional fields.

Whether you are cultivating 40 acres or 40 square feet, compost, mulches, and cover crops create a well-balanced, fertile soil that can absorb more water, which buffers plants from drought stress. And avoiding toxic herbicides and pesticides and synthetic fertilizers keeps the community of soil microbes actively processing organic matter.

Thirty years of research proves that organic farming and gardening grows food and grows it well even during extreme weather conditions. Good news, for in the face of a warmer, drier future, the more we can rely on our soil rather than our hoses, the better off we’ll be.

So why does the FST’s organic crop outperform the chemical crop? “The current toxic-chemical approach to growing our food destroys the life of the soil with pesticides, herbicides, and high levels of inorganic fertilizers,” says Elaine Ingham, chief scientist at the Rodale Institute. “They are destroying the support system, developed by nature over the last 4 billion years, that grows healthy plants.”

That natural support system of organic practice is what makes those crops more drought-tolerant. Fertile soil, rich in organic matter and microbes, creates a more stable environment for plants. Rather than crop failure in times of stress, the organically cultivated plants can rely on the soil to provide what the weather has not.

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