Monthly Archives: February 2014

Hens on the move and new incubation

The chicks were moved out to the outbuilding on Sunday morning, in a hurry as I accidentally tipped their water over one of them. They are enjoying the extra space.

We also put 12 new eggs in the incubator this morning.

 

 

 


Gimmer sale and sheep pedicure

Some neighbours of ours had asked to buy a few of our little ewe lambs (gimmer lambs), which we were delighted to sell. They were looking for some pretty lawn mowers to help keep on top of their equine paddocks which are awkward to top with a tractor.

Today we caught up all but two of our flock and gave them all a hoof trim which was a bit overdue to be honest. Ewes 28 and 34 have been wormed as have Rambo, Wesley and Ellie. There are 3 tups and 2 gimmer lambs to take to the abattoir at some point soon. We’ll catch the two elusive ewes over the next couple of weeks – they’re not out of date but it would be good to get them before they lamb.

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Adventures in Grafting continue

So we’ve been busy little bees this weekend, well…less bee and more Tree Frankenstein Creators, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it.

On Saturday we went out collecting our scion wood. Becs had (of course) drawn up an excel spreadsheet to organise the exercise. Yes, I know, how can excel have a role to play in this hobby?

Becs: We need a plan of the forest garden area so we know what is what.
Me: You could draw a freehand map showing the trees with creative symbols
Becs: I’ll do an excel spreadsheet.

Still, she does make a mean spreadsheet, and it has been very useful, and you can check it out on the plans page (coming soon!).

Anyway, we collected (and carefully labelled) our scion wood, and spent the day on Sat, and some of Sunday grafting them onto the various rootstock that we ordered during the week. BTW both sources of rootstock delivered strong looking roots, well wrapped and arrived on time.

I had a go at 2 family trees which are two types of scion on one rootstock. I will report back I a few months to let you know how these little trees are working out.

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Grafting

So if you read my last post you will know that the current Sencemeadow obsession is propogating fruit trees via a method called grafting. I am really keen to get on and try some more grafting partly because I have a bee in my bonnet about it, but also because there is a very short season to do it in, (Feb) so I have ordered some rootstock to enable me to have a go.

I have spread my risk by ordering 1/2 from eBay but also 1/2 from this site http://www.gb-online.co.uk, I have no recommendation so will let you know what they are like in a few months time when I see if the grafts have taken.

I have ordered 10 MM106 apple rootstock, and 2 M27 apple rootstocks. I have also ordered 4 Quince C pear rootstock and 4 St Julienne plumb rootstock. These 20 roots have come in at about £50, which sounds like a lot but when you divide that by the number of tree it will (hopefully) create it is a very cheap way of propagating trees at £2.50 a tree. I know not all of them will work but the average price for a fruit tree is £15 and can be a lot more than that. We have a lot of space for more fruit trees in our Forest garden and are delighted to be having a go at adding to the collection.

We have found a couple of local parks that are willing to let us take a few pieces of scion wood from there apple stock, so we will be doing that once the rootstocks arrive. The varieties available are;

Apples:

Allington Pipin
Annie Elizabeth
Barnack Beauty
Belvoir Seedling
Bramley
Brownlees Russet (very excited about this one)
Cox Pomona
Dumerlows Seedling
George Cave
Golden Pipin
Newton Wonder
Queen Caroline

Pears:

Beurre hardy
Claps Favorite
Conference
Dorondeau

Plums:

Cambridge gage
Early rivers
Pershore Yellow
Pershore Purple


Learning how to graft

One of my Christmas presents this year from my parents was a grafting workshop. So my Dad and I attended a …What is grafting? I hear you ask. It is the ability to be able to ‘glue’ trees together.

You may or may not know this, but if you plant an apple pip in the ground, it may grow a seedling, but that tree will not be the same as its parent tree. So to reproduce a tree that you really like the apples from, you need to be able to cut off a twig and ‘glue’ it onto a new rootstock.

Grafting as a way to propagate trees also has the advantage of producing trees that fruit within a couple of years, rather than having to wait 7 years if you plant a pip. So, it’s a useful skill.

Pitch over… to summarise, I spent my weekend learning to graft. The excellent course was run by the lovely people at Leicestershire Heritage Apple project. If you want to know anything about Leicestershire apples, or even apple trees in general get in touch with them, they will be running another grafting course next year, and maybe sooner, so check out their link.

So here are some picture of my Dad and I practising some of the techniques.

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You really need to learn this skill from an expert, but below are some points I don’t want to forget…this is not a how-to list!

Below is a summary of some of the key learning points, my top tips and a useful diagram

  • Grafting is done in Feb, as the wood is dormant
  • Growing rootstock of the right size needs to be acquired (in my case MM106)
  • Scion wood needs to be kept moist and cold (can be kept in a sealed bag, wrapped in wet paper towel in the fridge for a few weeks)
  • Graft a foot from the root.
  • Graft needs to be bound in place using masking tape or electrical tape
  • Binding needs to not have any pockets for water to pool as this makes the graft rot
  • After binding cut the scion to just above the second bud
  • Binding is sealed after with a mixture of candle wax 2/3, and cooking oil 1/3.
  • A little paper hat helps to protect the graft for 4 weeks.
  • Tape is removed after 6 months.
  • Need to make sure the scion wood has small flat buds rather than pointy (fruiting) buds.
  • Two types of grafts, V graft or whip and tongue.
  • V graft diagram below with my example. (ref: Leicestershire Heritage Apple project course book).

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Hatch day

So we have had a pretty good hatch rate so far, 8/12 eggs. I am leaving the last 4 for a few more days, but I think that is our lot. Sadly the last chick does seem to have something wrong with its leg, so we’ll have to see how that develops.

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