Grow figs from winter cuttings

Q: I am about to prune my fig bushes and would like to propagate them for a plant sale and giveaways later. Is now the time and how long does it take? — Kathy Watson

A: Figs are easy to propagate in winter and summer. As you prune, collect foot-long branch tip cuttings that are 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter at the base. Put them in a gallon resealable plastic bag and store in your refrigerator until early April. At that time, in a sunny spot, bury each one horizontally with just the tip showing. By late April, the tip bud will produce green leaves and the buds underground will produce roots. Fertilize lightly in summer and each new plant can be potted up in fall.

Q: I found concentrated acetic acid for sale online. Can I use this to make my own acetic acid weed killer like I see at nurseries? — Polly Chrome, Atlanta

A: Pesticides expert Paul Guillebeau says homeowners can make anything they want, if it's not illegal for some other reason, and apply it to their own property. However, they would be liable if the potion hurts someone else or their property. Guillebeau notes that even if you knew how, making dynamite and using it to blow fleas off your dog near a neighbor's garage would be a mistake. Remember, just because the label on an acetic acid herbicide you buy at a garden center specifies a certain percentage of active ingredient, there are other inert ingredients that may help the main chemical be more effective. Although vinegar contains acetic acid, the two are not the same. My advice? Don't make your own herbicide.

Q: I’ve heard not to plant fruit trees near pine trees. Is that true? — C. McLendon, Henry County

A: Unlike black walnut trees, which attack any competitor with chemicals exuded from their roots, pines are not known to deter nearby plants. Of course, any tree that shades your fruit trees will interfere with their production. If your trees get at least six hours of full, direct sunshine each day, they should yield the fruit you anticipate.

Q: Is it legal to grow tobacco in my garden? — Kim Cody, Decatur

A: It is perfectly legal to grow tobacco. But once you've tried it, you may not want to do it again! The process starts when you plant the tiny seed indoors, four weeks before the last frost, in warm trays of soil. Nurture the seedlings until they are 6 inches tall. Transplant them outdoors in early May into a sunny bed, taking care to water them thoroughly. Fertilize lightly but regularly. If grown for consumption, remove flowers as they occur. Also regularly clip out the sucker stems that form between the leaves and the main stem. Harvest leaves as they begin yellowing, for several weeks in succession. Leaves must be cured in a warm, dry spot for three weeks. To make the process even more lengthy, tobacco must be aged for several more months to remove harshness. More details at tobacco. If you are up for the challenge, please let me know how it turns out.

Listen to Walter Reeves from 6 to 10 Saturday mornings on WSB-AM (750). Visit his Web site,, for detailed advice on Georgia gardening.

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