Tree Following March 2017 Part 8.
Apple Grafting Special Blog
Many thanks to Squirrelbasket for hosting this monthly meme #Treefollowing
So far my James Grieve Apple Tree has not done much this year, except survive snow, hail, high winds, and then even higher winds from storm Doris.
It’s not expected to show any signs of growth for perhaps another 3-4 weeks.
So until all the fun starts, let me tell you about an Apple Tree Grafting workshop I attended a few Sundays ago.
The course was run by a group called Grafters and Growers, and they are a Leicestershire based group set up with the aim of promoting varieties of Apple that have originated from within the county of Leicestershire.
Grafters and Growers are the practical arm of the Leicestershire Heritage Apples Project. (LHAP).
More info http://www.heritageorchard.co.uk/
The aim of the grafting workshop that I attended was to be shown how to graft 2 Heritage Apple varieties onto 2 root-stocks with the overall aim of going home with two viable plants to be grown on and mapped for part of the Virtual Orchard Project, The home grafter (me), becoming the plants guardians.
2 rootstock of MM106 were provided for us.
The MM106 is a good rootstock to use as it is compatible with all types of apple varieties, It is considered as a semi-dwarfing type which reaches 3-4m (10-13ft) x 4m (13ft) at an ultimate height.
It starts fruiting at about 3 – 4 years.
It is tolerant of a range of soils including grassy orchards and poor soils.
We were also provided with lots of varieties of Heritage apples for us to choose which 2 varieties to graft.
The first half of the session was a general chat about apples, the whys and wherefores of grafting, and about how many heritage varieties were originally discovered in hedgerows, and re-discovered in old orchards.
Did you know …that Apple Varieties discovered growing in hedgerows along older roads tend to be from Cider or Cooking Apples, whereas Apples found in hedgerows along much newer roads tend to be eating apples.
Did you know… it takes around 6 years from growing an apple from pip to tasting the fruit from that plant.
The rest of the session involved practicing taking a graft on some spare apple wood before the main event.
The types of grafts that we were undertaking during the session were called the ‘V’ Graft or Cleft Graft. It’s a reliable and strong graft, and arguably one of the easiest types of graft to do.
The new variety to be grafted onto the rootstock is called the Scion wood.
The Scion wood was prepared into a V shape about an inch long with preferably a bud included.
A slightly blurry picture of the rootstock being prepared with a slit also about an inch deep ready to accommodate the scion wood.
- Fit the scion wood into the rootstock ‘V’ so that the cambium (green layer just beneath the bark) meet.
- It is desirable that they touch on both sides of the stem, but usually satisfactory if they only meet on one side.
- The key to grafting is to make straight cuts so the rootstock and scion fit snugly. (I’m rubbish at this).
- The graft should then be wrapped with grafting tape, polythene strips or other suitable tape and any exposed cut surfaces painted with grafting wax.
This was the demonstration graft done by our instructor on the day. (Mine looked more informal).
Sounds easy, well it wasn’t…. It’s very fiddly and you are using a very sharp blade which adds to the drama of it all. I’m please to report no blood was spilled and I completed my two efforts.
The 2 heritage varieties that I chose to graft were…
- An old Leicestershire Variety
- The Fruit is Medium to large
- A Cooking Apple
- Its Firm, Crisp, Juicy and Briskly Acidic
- The Blossom is Violet in Spring.
- More info here
- A Red Fleshed Eating Apple
- More info Here
- I couldn’t resist Pendragon, even though it is a Cornish Variety, it has purple leaves, purple blooms, and a right dark red flesh in the apple, It also had red sap in the scion, which I forgot to photograph whilst taking the cutting.
Did you know … The Apple Blossom on Leicestershire Trees are ahead about 2 weeks before Apple Trees in Kent blossom, this is because the days are slightly longer here.
And did you know… That blossoming times for Apple trees can vary up to two weeks either side of the stated date for that variety in the reference books, a Bramley Variety is a good reference point as it is a good mid-season blossoming Apple Tree.
I’ve placed the two pots of grafts in a sheltered place that will still receive some rain. I’ve got to keep an eye on those buds later in the spring in the hope that the grafts have taken.
If the results are good or bad, you’ll find out through this blog in due course.
Many thanks to Grafters and Growers and The Leicestershire Heritage Apples Project for holding the Grafting Course.