Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Clone a Fig

Propagation/grafting class at FVTC

Practice for a cleft graft

And another success.

Figgy - our tissue source.

The one hour rinse.

The "clean room" procedures.

Tissue sectioning.

Tissue in growth medium.

Now the wait time...

Both fig trees wrapped in remay cloth.

The cold frame -hoop house- replacement.

The pop sorghum needed to be thrashed for use.

A busy fall has meant not a lot of time for the blog.  The garden is ditched for winter, the cold frames are planted.  When the hoop house came down I decided that four cold frames would be about the same amount of space that the hoop house covered and they would be much easier to manage and move.  The are all planted with spinach, lettuce, some mustard,  and radish.  Our cold spell has slowed the seed germination.  In the plans for spring are two more new frames - a winter garage project. I really think that for my small space these structures better suit the planting plans than a hoop house.  We will see.

The garlic was finally planted the same time as the cold frames but less of it.  I am really going to try for better space utilization than having a six foot square garlic patch and not be able to use it all before it goes bad in the winter.  Likewise, the tomato patch will get scaled down next season - no more 60-70 plants.  That's just too many to harvest and clean up later in the season.

I had occasion to teach twice at Fox Valley Tech College.  The beginning Horticulture class and a Propagation class where we worked on grafting and looked at mechanical grafting of herbaceous plants. We did some cleft grafting with apple.  The class was successful so now they can collect scion wood next February and then do some real grafting in May on their own trees.

After class I did some  tissue culture, with help from Roxanne, the teacher whose classes I get to speak with at Fox Valley.  The tissue came from the old fig tree that I gave them when she grew out of our space here.  I cut five samples from terminal buds from "Figgy" and then they had to be run under water for an hour.  After that the protocol entailed sterilization, rinsing, tissue cutting, and flasking on a growth medium  All in a sterile environment as you note in the pictures.  In about a month, I will go back down to Fox Valley, with hopes of have some success and sub-dividing to the next culture.  I really hope this works because the figs off of the new tree that I bought last spring are just not as flavorful as the ones from "Figgy".

Also our fig trees, Chicago and the Black, are all bundled up and hopefully happy in their new winter home in the garden shed.  Putting them in the crawlspace just has not worked.  They are heavy, the branches get broken as they are hauled into the space and they always seem to want to start growing in February a month before I ever turn the heat on in the greenhouse.  Once again we are in experiment mode - and I also hope this works or we might be fig-less next spring.

The pop sorghum crop was finally dry enough to thresh and then winnow.  I used a gallon jug full of sand for threshing and waited until we had a windy day and winnowed the seed from the chaff.  We got a nice amount almost a half gallon of seed.  Popping discovery came when the air popper would not do the job so we went to placing 2 TBS of seed in a Corning ware dish, covering, and blasting away.  Success - so the next time we cook some I will take some pictures of our popped seed.  Absolutely looks like miniature popcorn.
Happy Gardening


  1. Very interesting post and pics. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hello--I am a MBA student at the university of Arizona, and I am conducting a survey geared towards grafted vegetable plants. My team and I are building an indoor vegetable plant grafting operation in Tucson, AZ a project through our entrepreneurship program. We are seeking feedback from gardeners whether currently using grafted plants or not. We would really appreciate it if you could take the survey and share it with your community. Below is the link:


    Thank you
    Shireen Asous

  3. Fascinating peek under the tent at the process behind tissue culture. Rinsing for an hour shows the importance of cleanliness.

    The local botanical garden grows Chicago but in large pots housed in an unheated greenhouse for the winter with much success.

  4. Dear Shireen -
    Took the survey today - as you have noted I have done grafting of tomatoes - probably have seen the pictures on the blog or Internet - this is a bit challenging and my success was not the best. But, I do like the challenge of trying the new. Anyone else interested should take the survey as posted to give these folks some feedback.
    Happy Gardening