How can I propagate blackberries and figs?

Answer: Blackberries are exceedingly easy to propagate from root cuttings. First, you have to get to the roots, so you can either come out from your mother plants 12 to 18 inches or so with a shovel or tractor-driven plow and turn up some roots. Or you can dig up whole plants, which is what I prefer to do. I usually do this in late winter or early spring. Then, select some of the larger roots (pencil diameter or larger) and cut them into pieces roughly two-inches long. I store these in plastic bags in a walk-in cooler or refrigerator until I’m ready to line them out three to four inches apart in trenches about two inches deep and then cover them with soil. About the only thing that can go wrong is allowing the root pieces to dry out, so make sure the cuttings are just a tiny bit moist if you’re storing them in plastic bags for very long, and be careful to not let the planted root pieces dry out in the field. Figs are also quite easy to propagate. First, take pencil-diameter cuttings about three to six inches long. Make sure that the fig cuttings contain some of the wood from the previous year and are not all new wood for the best results.Line the bottoms of trays or individual planters with newspaper. Add enough potting soil to the planters to allow the cuttings to stand upright (two to three inches). Place cuttings a few inches apart, making sure that the part of the cutting that was closest to the ground when you took the cutting goes down, and water the soil until moist.Place the trays or planters in a bright, warm location that does not receive direct sunlight. The cuttings will root most effectively in temperatures above 70 degrees F. Water the cuttings only when the soil is completely dry.When three to five leaves have emerged on each sprout, transplant the rooted fig cuttings directly into the ground or into larger pots. Fertilize to encourage growth.You can learn more about blackberry production in the ATTRA publication Organic Culture of Bramble Fruits, available at