I could have spent all day in this place! Hundreds, probably thousands, of heirloom seed varieties, housed in the gorgeous historic Sonoma County National Bank building, arrayed on shelves tailor-made for browsing. The company, family-run by Jere and Emilee Gettle, is based in Missouri and recently opened its first outpost — the Seed Bank — in Petaluma. Their catalogue is a delight, brimming with information and lovely photographs that will make you long for Spring. And, of course, the seeds themselves: giant “Yellow Monster” peppers, gooseberry gourds, a veritable rainbow of winter squash, antique sweet peas, Flamingo Pink Swiss chard, Japanese morning glories, Speckled Trout lettuce… you get the idea! Their catalogue is free, and available here. And, if you happen to be anywhere near Petaluma, the seed bank is definitely worth a trip!
Category Archives: propagation
Around here, we love figs. Fresh, dried, straight from the tree — you can never have too many! We recently went to the California Rare Fruit Grower’s grafting exchange (an absolute wonderland for tree geeks!) and picked up, among other things, a handful of unusual fig varieties. If you have a favorite fig tree, or know someone who might be willing to share a few twigs, propagating cuttings is an easy way to grow your own tree — but don’t stop with figs! This same method can be used with apples, grapes, and more…
…but figs, we’ve found, are one of the easiest trees to propagate. Start with clean, straight twigs, about a foot long, taken from a tree’s new growth — the dark, smooth branches, not the rough gray ones. Make sure your cutting has plenty of buds; these will be the points at which the twig takes root. You’ll also need pots and dirt. (We’re using one- and five-gallon plastic pots filled with fresh potting soil. Clean, new dirt reduces chances of disease, and good drainage is important; you could use compost or garden soil, but we’d rather not take chances!) Have a pair of clippers handy, and another stick for digging holes.
Begin by filling your pots with soil and trimming your twigs to wherever the buds are densest — most of ours are about 8 to 10 inches long. Again, the buds will sprout the roots, so you want as many as possible in contact with the soil. You can watch this sprouting process, if you like, by placing a spare twig in a jar of water and setting it on a window sill for a couple weeks; when the white roots start to emerge and grow, go ahead and plant the twig.
Finally, give your cuttings a good watering and place the pots somewhere sunny and warm to take root. Ours will be residing in the greenhouse:
Here’s a fig tree we started from a cutting a couple years ago. As you can see, it’s a far cry from the little twigs we’re planting today — but with any luck, they’ll do just as well!