Friday, 30 March 2012

grafting apples

The orchard at Cordwood was planted some time after the site was developed around 1947. The trees are probably sixty years old ... and some were in very poor condition when we finally released them from the yoke of choking brambles, blackthorn, oak and cherry that had engulfed them.

We have cleared the ground beneath them, mulched with manure and pruned to reinvigorate them. The trees are all 'standards' and too tall to allow the fruit to be picked easily. They may not respond to treatment and so we have a backup strategy in order that we can retain the heritage of the orchard if the trees have to be removed: grafting.

We bought M9 dwarf rooting stock apple trees and grafted 'scions' or twigs from the old trees onto the dwarf rooting stocks. The warm weather caught us out and the process had to be rushed. It was stressful too, in its own small, unimportant way, cutting V shapes in the scions and marrying them to corresponding  cuts on the dwarf rooting stocks in the  unseasonably hot March sun. Each new graft was bound tightly with raffia and planted in specially prepared ground on the allotment.

This was our first attempt at taking grafts and may not be successful. The scions were a little too dry and the root stocks were just past bud burst .. which is when they should be used for optimum results.

Our hands were so busy during this procedure that we forgot to take photos. Here's the little trees in the ground, rather like a hospital ward for trees, with each having its own bandage.

We will monitor our successes and failures and record results over the coming weeks.

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