monster roots (sue's eyes only)

loslunasfarmsApril 15, 2008

Sue, here is the unknown fig that you gave me a couple months ago..Take a look at the roots!

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Can you provide a bit details about the rooting mix and the process/sequence you use? Some of us get skinny brown or whitish roots and only few (though the plants survive). I use 'Schultz professional potting soil plus' and Perlite (50%/50%) but can only dream of such roos.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 10:01PM
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OMG!!!! I agree with Akram, I can only DREAM of roots like that! You win! You're the KING! Did you fertilize with super fert?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 10:43PM
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I have been getting lots of emails so btfig and ottawan:

Here are the details:

1. I start the cuttings using the papertowel method. The cuttings are typically soaked in a 10% solution, rinsed and put in papertowels and in baggies. The baggies are opened every few days to let in fresh air.

2. After I see fair amount of rooting, more than one root, I place them in a clear 16oz cup. I then use ULTIMATE POTTING MIX from Fertilome for my soil. I put some of the soil into a bucket, and wet it with water. I prepare the water by soaking a bti aka mosquito dunk inside it. The bti really helps to control the !*&^%$# fungus gnats (Georgi hates them too!). I wet the soil enough so that when squeezed water will not run out. I also stir up the soil in the bucket so that it is wet and nice an fluffy. I then crumble the soil on the cutting that is placed in the clear cup.

3. Place the cup in a clear bin with indirect sunlight. I open the bins once a day and fan the air with the lid a few times for fresh air and then reclose them.

4. Watch them roots take off!

Thats it. I used to use perlite/vermiculite, but they molded more and really, there is no problem with uppotting them into larger pots filled with UPM. This method has been pretty fool proof and the roots are awesome.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 10:48PM
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I checked with my local nursery (who did not stock "Fertilome The Ultimate" potting soil). Guess what they told me. I told them that a couple of friends in New Mexico who used it and recommended it. The nursery manager told me that if they ordered this product it would not be the same soil as that in New Mexico. He told me Fertilome would be contracting out the production of this product to different local companies and that "The Ultimate" would likely be very different here that the product you guys get. I was disappointed. I really wondered too if I had been given a line of BS :) Anyway, good going. I am having similar success by putting my rooted cuttings from bags into 100% potting soil. I recently put some directly into 100% pine bark fines. This has worked equally well. I think the most important thing about your "system" is your "soil fluffing". The soil doesn't get too wet, and there is good air flow to the root area when you gently drop this "fluffed" wet soil into the cup. Thanks for this "phase 2" rooting technique :)


    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 11:07AM
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Henry, the fluffing, and crumblings, and not overwetting is crucial and using UPM. I havent had a rooted cutting die yet. They seem to love the UPM with just enough water. The proof is in the pudding or shall I say "cup". I have tried this with the MG stuff and it seem much heavier than UPM, like more for up-potting. The UPM is a very light and smooth stage 2 soiless potting soil.

As a note to everyone else, I purchase the UPM from a local nursery supplier at about ~12.89 for a 50qt bag, the largest bag they carry. If you go to a nursery they charge anywhere from $18-$23.

I get into the habbit of asking whenever I buy, "What do most of the people/nuseries use"? They have told me, with asking differernt folks that the UPM is the most bought.

I also have found the the MG and other potting soils seem to have more "inlcuded" fungus knats. I also use the Bti for control of those little buggers.

Also, for it not being the same, I thought this only applied to California and Georgia for some reason. Not sure what the differences are.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 11:53AM
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I found UPM on ebay but the shipping is an eye opener!

I'm flying to Omaha, NE Apr 30. I see it's sold in nursery's there. I may have to bring a couple empty suitcases. ;-)


    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 1:04PM
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What lengths we go to :)

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 2:27PM
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Is it the humic acids in the soil that causes roots to grow so thick and strong? And if so does that mean that most if not all organic soils carry some level of humus in higher considerations that regular potting mix? do other chemicals play a part in these roots growing like this? i always getting thin stringy roots even on large cutting, if i switch to organic soils will that help?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 11:37PM
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The UPM is a soiless potting mix, so I am not convinced that using orgainc soils will help.

The UPM formulation I use had more perlite. It is light, and allows air circulation. It is my understanding that humic acids aid in the micronutrient uptake and binding.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 10:53AM
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so do you know of any soiless potting mix that give similar results. i dont have access to any upm in my area, i leave right to two nurseries and them dont carry upm. i need new soil(soiless) badley because this Mg that i used isnt working so great.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 7:22PM
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My 2 cents...
Altough the "perfect" potting medium may play a sigificant
part in the fig rooting process; it is not the sure "silver bullet".
There are other factors, e.g., current environment.
ALSO, some fig variants are very good rooters, while others
are dismal rooters.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 8:16PM
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I would like to experiment with hard to root fig cultivars. Based on your experience, which cultivars would you classify as dismal rooters?


    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 9:39PM
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Black Mission for a common dark one.
Also the two edible caprifigs UCR 228-2 & 271-1.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 9:53PM
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well i know nothing is perfect but i also guess that those didn;t grow like that because they were in the figs DNA. i just need anything better than MG, that stuff full gnats as soon as i opened the bag.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 9:53PM
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Aslo, try Black Madeira...

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 9:58PM
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>>> i just need anything better than MG, that stuff full gnats as soon as i opened the bag.

I agree, this issue about MG potting soil, possibly
coming already infested with the dreaded fungus-gnats,
has been pointed out here before on this FF.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 10:12PM
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There seems to be nothing special about UPM other than (as americanfigboy pointed out) the humic acids in the mix. There are liquid humates which should be available at local nurseries.

Also, when I potted up my rooted cutting, I used a spray bottle to wet the growing mix before going into the container. I measured enough mix for one container and gave equal number of sprays (verified against the level on molded into the bottle). I then tossed the mix to evenly distribute the moisture.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 3:58PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hi, James. Humic acids are present in all organic-based potting soils .... they ALL have it. Humic acids are a by-product of the humification process (composting), which is underway in all container media at all times, as long as there is moisture and soil biota (soil life) present. Touting a container soil because it contains humic acid is about like touting a car because it has wheels.

You're correct - there is nothing to set UPM apart from hundreds of other peat-based potting soils.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 5:07PM
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Darn it Al, you just had to do it. I have found it works for ME!

Al, dont post and start rebutting MY results. Let us not forget that you are not the only Dr. here.

Geeze. Im tired of reading the fighting.

Now my thread is hijacked by your own stupid comments.

By Al:

"Touting a container soil because it contains humic acid is about like touting a car because it has wheels."

This soil has worked the best FOR ME. I WILL TOUT A SOIL IF IT WORKS FOR ME! I dont need the truth police coming around. I posted my methods, my materials, what worked, and that is it.

All I tried to do is simply show my rooting results to others can replicate them. Instead the humic acid police came in.

Al, stop hijacking my post. Even you Dr Al, (BTW you are not the only Dr here) know that documenting everything is part of the scientific method.

I gave the advice because it was easy for ME!. People are not going to give advice if your going to go around an police things.

Dang it, now my post is tainted.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 5:29PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I don't understand. I wasn't referring to you as touting anything. Perhaps I might have been clearer, but what I meant was UPM's touting the fact that their soil contains humic acid doesn't set it apart from other soils. I wasn't commenting on your methods or choice of potting medium.

The post was entirely on topic, AND cordial. There was certainly no intention to disparage you.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 5:54PM
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Dennis AKA Snaglpus(8a)

Well don't feel bad Jose. I did try UPM for the first time and I'd never seen anything like it! It is super stuff! Now I hear PRO-MIX has the same stuff as UPM. I plan on doing a test next week with UPM and PRO-MIX. I hope PRO-MIX proves to be equal because I can not find UPM here. I got lucky and ordered 3 bags from Nebreska last year at a really cheap price. Now, I'm down to 1/3 of a bag. I think UPM still reign supreme for now. Cheers, Dennis

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 5:56PM
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No problem Al, thanks for the clarification.

I just dont want my post to get fighty and for people to be free post their results.

I was just posting what worked for me and what would be easy for many others to follow.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 6:10PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm really glad you understand. Because of your comments - I have questions for you that, if you'd be kind enough to answer, I'll take off forum.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 6:30PM
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Ask the questions so we can all learn. I will answer as best as I can.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 6:53PM
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I realized the I had confused the title of my post with something else I was going to write. Certainly, it was not aimed at you. I've seen your results first hand and cannot deny your success. I'll explain the title (which should have been "A Case Against Jumping Ship") with a little background.

I've been doing B&W darkroom work since the late 70s. I used to belong to a forum devoted to B&W photography. People would inevitably ask "What is the best film/developer combination?" Many people would express their choices. Some would go further and say "Avoid X and Y", usually followed by a list of complaints as to why it was a poor combination for them. Most of the time the complaints were aimed at the film and developer which I preferred and had extremely good results with. I recognized that I had many years of experience with this film and developer and my equipment and my shooting style, and my water, etc.

About four years ago, I was at a seminar given on growing tomatoes at a master gardener plant sale. During the lecture, someone in the audience asked the all too familiar question (except this time not about film or developer), "Which is the best tasting variety of tomato?" The lecturer didn't hesitate to say "Any variety tomato that is perfectly ripe is going to taste better than any other variety that is not."

I try to bring this idea of "a system which is maximized will probably outperform one that is not" to most things I do... including growing figs. So when I read through the forums, I look for ideas on how I can improve on my methods in order to maximize what I already know. I don't want to jump ship every time someone has better results than me, and give up the knowledge base I have towards my own system. I would encourage others to do the same, if they are getting good results with whatever system they are using now. And if you are not getting results and it is time to jump ship, understand this is a starting point and (most likely) some tweaking will need to be done over the course of time to achieve maximal results.

Back on topic... Al pointed out the presence of humic compounds in all composting materials. I think some clarification is needed for this statement. My understanding is that there are many humic and fulvic acids. Are all of them present while composting is occuring? Or does the composition of the composted material determine which ones are produced? Is it possible the slow released humic acid in UPM are of a different variety that I might normally find in composting pine bark? Furthermore, many people are using sterile mediums in indoor environments for their "Phase 2" process. How does soil biota find it's way into the growing media in these instances?

I have seen reports where the application of additional humic acids improved macro and micro nutrient uptakes and increased production. So the amount of these acids in containers may be lower than optimal. Or, UPM's success may be due to amount of these acids given the supplement.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 8:29PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I want to be sure LLF considers this 'on topic' before I reply.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 9:18PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I see those roots, with zero foliage, and what does that tell you about putting a fig close to your foundation? I'll keep mine in containers, Thank You!!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 9:47PM
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Al, were all friends here. Please comment. I think we should all remember that our comments need to be made with the heart of a teacher.

Go for it!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 11:10PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Humic acid (HA) is formed during the humification process (decaying/composting) as plant and animal matter break down. The main source of HA is lignin, which is the most common bio-compound on earth next to cellulose - it's what makes plants stiff. As the organic matter breaks down, it forms several acids called carboxylates and phenoxides.

While there are several acids formed during the breakdown of organic matter, they are all pretty much the same. It's probably easy to envision why that is true when we consider that all plants are made up of the same building blocks (nutrients/elements) in almost exactly the same ratio. IOW, there is little difference, chemically speaking, between sequoias and snapdragons. Also important to consider is that peat moss is made up of a combination of cellulose, lignins, and humic acids. This fact is probably what would allow any/all container media producers to lay claim to the fact that their product contains HA. As I mentioned upthread - advertisers often lay claim to things their research shows the general public might consider a huge plus, when it's an intrinsic part of all similar products. Shell Oil used to advertise that their gasoline contained lead to guard against spark knock, when in fact all gasolines used to contain lead. If I thought a little, I'm sure I could quickly come up with another dozen examples more current.

I'll leave an answer I posted to a thread on the container forum back in Nov '08. The question posed was, "Does humic acid serve any purpose for container plants?"

I drew a delineation between mineral soils and container media primarily because the immense volume of organic matter in almost all container media. This would even include the gritty mix, which has a 1/3 organic component - roughly 6-10 times what you would find in most natural and garden soils. Hopefully, we have built or are using container media with a suitable structure, but even if we were not, the type of structural improvements usually associated with the use of HA in mineral soils do not apply to container media. Where container media is concerned, if the structure is not there from the beginning, the only way you can add it is by adding enough soil particles of the size required to physically achieve your objective, You cannot change container media structure by adding HA or its associates.

The reply to the question (about plants in containers) I mentioned a little upthread:

"Humic acid (and its accompanying fulvic acid) are most often used as an amendment to improve the quality of clay soils, sandy soils, and/or other soils organically deficient. The primary value of adding humic acid to clay or other compacted soils comes from the resulting structural break-up (increase in friability) of these soils. Obviously, this should not be an issue in the soils you are using. In sandy soils, humic acid's value is in its addition of organic material to soils, which would also in the end improved water retention and root function, neither of which are anything you would be lacking in the soils you use.

In some soils, humic acid can also play another role in facilitating a plant's ability to assimilate nutrients. Humic acid can lower pH and help unlock otherwise bound nutrients in the soil that might not be unavailable under conditions of higher pH. Again, this should not be an issue for you, given the fertilizer regimen you use and a known favorable pH.

Finally, humic acid can stimulate soil micro-biology in some soils, increasing the numbers and activity levels of soil micro-populations, the primary function of which are to make available minerals and nutrients which could be stored within the humic acid complex and hopefully available on an 'as needed' basis. Again, not much of a benefit when you consider you're supplying a full compliment of nutrients in a readily available form on a regular and 'as needed' basis.

I suppose if I was to sum it up, I would say that a build-up or adequate measures of humic acid in garden soils is to be desired & most effectively accomplished by the regular addition of organic materials to the soil. How valuable wholesale applications of humic acid are to garden soils is probably highly variable by soil type, soil composition, and the intrinsic quality/value of the individual product at hand. It's value in containers would probably be extremely marginal at best or go completely unnoticed (as it did when I tried the product for my container plantings several years ago) but there's nothing to stop you from trying it."


    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 9:16AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm sorry - I should have proof read more closely. I misstated when I said "While there are several acids formed during the breakdown of organic matter, they are all pretty much the same." The thought that I had in my mind when I wrote this was: While there are several acids formed during the breakdown of organic matter, the acids formed by a variety of decaying vegetable matter end up being pretty much the same group of acids in the same proportions.

To go further, it's not the acids formed during humification that vary with any significance, it's the compounds they form with free ions when mixed into (primarily) mineral soils.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 9:25AM
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Good news and bad news,

Good news,
My uncle has a garden center here in Detroit, Mi. and he carries it.

Bad news,
He only has the 8qt. bags.

Oh well.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2010 at 1:28PM
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As a mostly lurker and occasional poster, I found this original post and the evolution into a discussion of humic acid very informative. The cutting method is obviously working, and the information is really enlightening. Thank you all for sharing your experience and knowledge.

Those are beautifully photographed cuttings, with impressive roots. I like how you can see the primary roots and the secondary root branches. I don't know if primary and secondary are the right names.

As an absolute amateur, I just sometimes stick fig prunings into the ground around my yard and see which ones grow. No science to my method, and the results are about 50% take, but probably much slower than the ones in this post. I don't even have room for more fig trees, so I don't know why I do it. Same with grapes. Several of my coworkers now have fig trees and grapes that started from my yard.

Besh wishes to all of you.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 8:50PM
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Daniel, good to hear from you.

Rafed, I buy the 30 qt bags for around $16 at my local greenhouse supply. The small nurseries charge to much.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 11:04PM
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