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Filtering by Tag: propagating figs

More Figs Anyone?

Beth Ribblett


I just couldn't resist.  My last run in Cortona took me past Frances Mayes' house, the infamous villa from Under the Tuscan Sun.  On the road right near her house was a wild giant fig tree and since I have been wanting a cutting from Cortona to add to my collection, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get one.  A quick snap of a tiny branch and I was on my way down the hill with a little piece of Tuscany in my pocket.  I hope I am as successful with this as I have been with the Sicilian cutting, that as you can see by my photo below, has started to produce some deliciously sweet figs.  I'll keep you posted!

How Sweet it is....

Beth Ribblett

We just ate our first fig from the little tree cutting I brought back from Sicily almost 2 years ago!  Last year it made a few figs that never ripened so this was the first time we actually got to sample the fruit.  We didn't have high expectations as it was not very aromatic, but boy were we wrong!  It was the sweetest most flavorful fig I have ever eaten and I am so excited to have more on the way!  We put it in a bigger pot early this spring and it is doing very well.  I know as soon as we put it in the ground it will really thrive, but we want to wait until the fall so it doesn't get to stressed with the heat.  For those of you who don't know the story behind the Sicilian fig cutting from the Planeta winery, click here For the Love of Figs

The Fig Report, Coming to Fruition....

Beth Ribblett

Today is the day, 365 days since Chiara Planeta gave me a small six inch cutting from their beautiful property in Sambuca di Sicilia.  The cutting, now a sapling, gave us a gift this week on its anniversary, a small fig.  Kerry says it's too young to bear fruit, but I can't bring myself to cut it off.

It is hard to believe it has been a year since that amazing trip, where everyone of us came away  knowing we were changed by it and we all had experienced something truly special by being in that place together at that particular time in our lives.  I am so happy to have our little fig tree as a constant reminder of all the wonderful experiences and memories from that magical journey across Sicilia.

Visiting Planet in Sambuca di Sicilia

Beth Ribblett


I've always loved the wines of Planeta, but they've occupied a very special place in my heart since our visit to the winery last year during our wine and culinary tour of Sicily.  While they produce wines from five different vineyard sites on the island, the estate in Sambuca is the oldest, having been in the family since the 1600's.


On a windy Sunday afternoon, Chiarra Planeta met us at the winery in Sambuca for a tour, tasting and lunch. It is quite a journey to get there, lots of winding roads through small villages that ends with the town of Sambuca, Lago Arancio and the simple but elegant centuries old buildings of the estate.  The property is beautiful with the vineyards gracefully sloping down to the shores of the lake.  Chiarra was a gracious host who led us through wonderful tasting of wines that are produced at the various vineyards sites and many of which are not available in the US.


Having just finished the tasting, we were heading into the dining area of the 16th century farmhouse for lunch, when I noticed a beautiful fig tree on their property. After more wine, a delicious lunch of local foods including the best fresh ricotta any of us had every eaten (believe me, we ate a lot of it on this trip!) I asked Chiara if I could possibly have a cutting from their fig tree. She said of course and cut off a small piece about 6-8" long. And most of you know that I was able to get the cutting through customs and now have a sapling that will be ready to put in the ground this fall!




It was an enchanting afternoon, as most were in Sicily, but Chiarra's warmth and hospitality made it all the more special.  And I am now a Planeta fan for life!

Click here to view a slide show of our visit: Slide show



The Latest on the Sicilian Fig "Tree"

Beth Ribblett


For those of you who have been following the progress of the little cutting from the Sicilian fig tree that returned with me after our last trip, I think it is now safe to call it a little tree instead of a cutting! It is about 2.5 feet high and has been thriving this summer with the leaf stems sprouting secondary growth and becoming small branches.

So here's where we started and where we are now. Pretty amazing, huh?



And in case you missed the original post from November....


For the Love of Figs,
November 14, 2009

I've been wanting to plant a fig tree for a while now. We were at our friend Kaysey's house in Covington last year and picked fresh figs from a tree right off of her balcony one morning for breakfast. Drizzled with a little honey and spread with fresh goats cheese, they are to die for! So I start looking online, trying to figure out what kind of fig tree I wanted and where I would get it. Should I order one? Should I just find one locally? Could I grow one from a cutting?? For the last year I've been contemplating planting a fig tree but somehow it never seemed to happen.

Sometime before we went to Sicily I was again looking at growing from a cutting. I found out it was relatively easy, but how would I decide where I wanted to do a cutting from? The right answer didn't come, until we were in Sicily...

On a windy Sunday afternoon in Sambuca di Sicilia, we were walking the beautiful grounds of Planeta's Ulmo winery with Chiara Planeta. Having just finished an amazing tasting of way too many of their wines, we were heading into the dining area of the 16th century farmhouse for lunch, when I noticed a beautiful fig tree on their property. After more wine and a delicious lunch of local foods, I asked Chiara if I could possibly have a cutting from their fig tree. She said of course and cut off a small piece about 6-8" long. As delighted as I was to have it, I now just had to figure out what to do with it!!

So, I put the cutting in my purse and tried to recall what I had read about propagating fig trees from cuttings. When we got to our next lodging spot, Mandranova, I was so enthralled with the place that I had forgotten about my cutting. Four days later at our last agriturismo, I found it and decided to put it in a glass of water. Our next stop was Roma for a few days and then home so I wrapped the bottom in a paper towel soaked with water and then put it in a plastic bag. I was a little nervous about getting it through customs, but it made it into the states and into our kitchen.

Well we came back with way too many things to do, so I just stuck it in water again until I had time to do something with it. Another week went by, it was now more than 2 weeks since Chiara had cut it for me, when I found a post about propagating fig trees at gardenguides.com. By this time is was starting to get brown and I really didn't have much hope for it, but I figured what the hell, it couldn't hurt to try. Here are the instructions that I followed:

Step 1
Cut stems for rooting in late winter. Cut 1-year-old stems growing in the center of the tree. Make the stems between 6 and 8 inches long and approximately as thick as a finger. I kind of got this right, but we did not take it from the center of the tree and it wasn't late winter...

Step 2
Line the bottom of the plastic container with newspaper and place 2 to 3 inches of potting soil into the bottom. Place as many as four cuttings in one plastic container, standing them so that the cut ends are in the soil. Add more potting soil to fill the container--you should see just the tips of the cuttings.

Step 3
Water the soil and place the container in a location where there is bright sun, but not direct light. Keep the temperature at 70 degrees F or higher. My office at home seems to be working well. It has lots of windows and gets light from the east and south.

Step 4
Cut off the bottom of a plastic bottle--a soft-drink bottle works well--and place the bottle over the container. Keep the cap on the bottle. I used an orange juice container that Ron had left in the frig during his house/dog sitting stay.

Step 5
Water the cuttings only when the soil dries out completely. Lift the container and if it feels light, place it in a shallow pan filled with water. Allow the soil in the container to soak up water from the pan. Remove the container when the soil is moist again. I have not had to do this yet, probably in a few days.

Step 6
When new shoots and leaves extend from the cuttings, remove the bottle cap. If the cuttings continue to grow after several days, remove the bottle. If they wilt, replace the bottle and try again in a few days. If they thrive, it is time to transplant the cuttings. This where I am now, I just removed the cap, take a look at my photo!! I am amazed that this thing is actually growing after what I've put it through...

So, I'll keep you posted as to how the rest of this goes, but so far so good! Keep your figures crossed and hopefully one day I can be giving some of you cuttings from my Planeta fig tree from Sicilia!!

Thanks Chiara!






The Fig Report

Beth Ribblett


Quite a few of you have inquired about the status of my little Sicilian fig cutting so I guess it is time for an update! As you can see, it is thriving and doing well in it's new pot, and who knows maybe by the fall it will be ready to go in the ground! Keep your fingers crossed!

The Fig Report

Beth Ribblett

I've had quite a few people inquire about the status of my fig cutting from Sicily. We now have three nice sized leaves and I feel like it is probably getting to be time to put it in a bigger container. Hopefully in the next few months I'll actually be putting this thing in the ground! Kerry brought back quite a few varieties of peppers also and it is getting time to plant them and see what happens. We'll keep you posted. Click here for the story on how this cutting made it all the way from Sicily: For the Love of Figs

The Fig Report, Week 10

Beth Ribblett

There must be something in the air because the little fig cutting surprised us with not one but two new leaves this past week! Things are looking good so far! It is amazing what a little warmth and sunshine does for all of us...

The Fig Report, Week 9

Beth Ribblett

Just as we have all been hiding under the covers for the last month, not wanting to venture out into the cold, gray days of winter, the little fig cutting has been in hibernation mode. The short days and cool temperatures have made for slow growing but this week we started to see a change as a new leaf is breaking through. Hopefully, in anticipation of the warmer weather scheduled to arrive this week, it has decided it will be safe to come and show its new growth!

My fascination with this little cutting has led me to research the history of figs and I found out it is possibly the most ancient of domesticated plants. The latest archaeological evidence has determined that figs were propagated as early as 11,400 years ago, predating the domestication of cereal grains and legumes by about 1,000 years. At the Gilgal site, in the Jordan Valley near Jericho, they found dried, half eaten figs from trees that could only have survived with the help of human hands. See there is a type of genetic mutation in some species of fig trees that allows them to produce without pollination and the help of the fig wasp. However, the only way these trees can propagate is by taking shoots and planting them in the ground to grow more trees. The fruit found at the Gilgal site was of this mutant variety indicating the earliest origins of fruit orchards.

So I found it pretty cool know that I'm doing what was done thousands of years ago, putting a stick in some dirt and hoping it will grow! So far it seems as if they knew what they were doing!

For the story of how our Sicilian fig cutting came to America, click here: For the Love of Figs


The Fig Report, Week 4

Beth Ribblett


So far so good this week! With all of the dreary weather we've been having, I've enlisted the help of one of Kerry's grow lights that she uses for her micro greens "farm". There is definitely another leaf beginning to bud and I am starting to see some roots sprouting out through the bottom holes of the pot!

For the full story on my little Sicilian fig cutting go to: For the Love of Figs

The Fig Report

Beth Ribblett


It has not been a good week for my fig cutting. I think that using the heat in the house is creating an inconsistent environment. The second leaf that had begun to sprout has turned brown and has died so I am adding back the plastic container for a little while.

Step 6
When new shoots and leaves extend from the cuttings, remove the bottle cap. If the cuttings continue to grow after several days, remove the bottle. If they wilt, replace the bottle and try again in a few days. If they thrive, it is time to transplant the cuttings. Cross your fingers! I did this yesterday and there already seems to be another shoot or leaf trying to pop through.

Click here for the story on the journey of the little Sicilian fig cutting: For the Love of Figs


For the Love of Figs, Continued!

Beth Ribblett

The story continues! Click here if you missed my initial post on the crazy journey of this twig cut from a tree in Sicily now growing in my office: For The Love of Figs. I'll post weekly updates on our progress!

Step 5
Water the cuttings only when the soil dries out completely. Lift the container and if it feels light, place it in a shallow pan filled with water. Allow the soil in the container to soak up water from the pan. Remove the container when the soil is moist again. I finally did this a few days ago.

Step 6
When new shoots and leaves extend from the cuttings, remove the bottle cap. If the cuttings continue to grow after several days, remove the bottle. If they wilt, replace the bottle and try again in a few days. If they thrive, it is time to transplant the cuttings. As you can see, the cutting has thrived, so I'll be transplanting it this week!

For the Love of Figs...

Beth Ribblett

I've been wanting to plant a fig tree for a while now. We were at our friend Kaysey's house in Covington last year and picked fresh figs from a tree right off of her balcony one morning for breakfast. Drizzled with a little honey and spread with fresh goats cheese, they are to die for! So I start looking online, trying to figure out what kind of fig tree I wanted and where I would get it. Should I order one? Should I just find one locally? Could I grow one from a cutting?? For the last year I've been contemplating planting a fig tree but somehow it never seemed to happen.

Sometime before we went to Sicily I was again looking at growing from a cutting. I found out it was relatively easy, but how would I decide where I wanted to do a cutting from? The right answer didn't come, until we were in Sicily...

On a windy Sunday afternoon in Sambuca di Sicilia, we were walking the beautiful grounds of Planeta's Ulmo winery with Chiara Planeta. Having just finished an amazing tasting of way too many of their wines, we were heading into the dining area of the 16th century farmhouse for lunch, when I noticed a beautiful fig tree on their property. After more wine and a delicious lunch of local foods, I asked Chiara if I could possibly have a cutting from their fig tree. She said of course and cut off a small piece about 6-8" long. As delighted as I was to have it, I now just had to figure out what to do with it!!

So, I put the cutting in my purse and tried to recall what I had read about propagating fig trees from cuttings. When we got to our next lodging spot, Mandranova, I was so enthralled with the place that I had forgotten about my cutting. Four days later at our last agriturismo, I found it and decided to put it in a glass of water. Our next stop was Roma for a few days and then home so I wrapped the bottom in a paper towel soaked with water and then put it in a plastic bag. I was a little nervous about getting it through customs, but it made it into the states and into our kitchen.

Well we came back with way too many things to do, so I just stuck it in water again until I had time to do something with it. Another week went by, it was now more than 2 weeks since Chiara had cut it for me, when I found a post about propagating fig trees at gardenguides.com. By this time is was starting to get brown and I really didn't have much hope for it, but I figured what the hell, it couldn't hurt to try. Here are the instructions that I followed:

Step 1
Cut stems for rooting in late winter. Cut 1-year-old stems growing in the center of the tree. Make the stems between 6 and 8 inches long and approximately as thick as a finger. I kind of got this right, but we did not take it from the center of the tree and it wasn't late winter...

Step 2
Line the bottom of the plastic container with newspaper and place 2 to 3 inches of potting soil into the bottom. Place as many as four cuttings in one plastic container, standing them so that the cut ends are in the soil. Add more potting soil to fill the container--you should see just the tips of the cuttings.

Step 3
Water the soil and place the container in a location where there is bright sun, but not direct light. Keep the temperature at 70 degrees F or higher. My office at home seems to be working well. It has lots of windows and gets light from the east and south.

Step 4
Cut off the bottom of a plastic bottle--a soft-drink bottle works well--and place the bottle over the container. Keep the cap on the bottle. I used an orange juice container that Ron had left in the frig during his house/dog sitting stay.

Step 5
Water the cuttings only when the soil dries out completely. Lift the container and if it feels light, place it in a shallow pan filled with water. Allow the soil in the container to soak up water from the pan. Remove the container when the soil is moist again. I have not had to do this yet, probably in a few days.

Step 6
When new shoots and leaves extend from the cuttings, remove the bottle cap. If the cuttings continue to grow after several days, remove the bottle. If they wilt, replace the bottle and try again in a few days. If they thrive, it is time to transplant the cuttings. This where I am now, I just removed the cap, take a look at my photo!! I am amazed that this thing is actually growing after what I've put it through...

So, I'll keep you posted as to how the rest of this goes, but so far so good! Keep your figures crossed and hopefully one day I can be giving some of you cuttings from my Planeta fig tree from Sicilia!!

Thanks Chiara!