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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