This weekend was pretty dominated by the community orchard – working party on Saturday and then a grafting course on Sunday.
The orchard is slowly waking up and buds and flowers are starting. Three jobs got done – the wild flower beds were cleared of the dead material, more pebble mulching around the transplanted black currants and we started the base for the new bench.
Sunday was much more interesting, we went to Day’s Cottage to learn about grafting. Helen and Dave run the orchard, farm and hold courses on various orchard related skills. Grafting is simply “sticking” two different plants together!
Our first baby steps were to learn a little about the different types of root stocks and how they are used to propagate and spread useful trees. Rootstocks are used to control the vigour of fruit trees and allow them to grow in a small space. They can also contribute to the disease resisting abilities of the plant. There are lots and lots of different stock but only a few are commonly used. The most common for most domestic situations is one called MM 106. It takes about 4-5 yrs from grafting to the first fruit. I think I need to do a lot more reading.
Like most new skills there are new terms, the sticks that you take from the tree you are interested in are called scions. They do look a little like a table of magic wands or the base for a broom. The idea is you cut the scion and root stock and match the cut edges and tie them together – simple as that….
The graft we were taught was a modified rind graft or the du Breuil’d method. The main advantage of this technique is that you don’t have to match the size of the stock and scion. Dave, of course, made it look easy – he just cut a perfect smooth slope on the scion every time! When you have a nice smooth cut in the scion, you cut a small notch in it.
Then you cut the root stock at 45 degrees and match up the scion cut slope to the back side of the root stock. You simply slice a thin layer of bark from the root stock. After that you put the two sides together and match up the cut edges. The idea being that the two growing green parts (the cambrian) join up and allow the tree to grow.
Then you hold it all together with some paraffin film. It keeps the bugs and dirt out and holds it all together. We all got stuck in and cut and cut and cut and tried and tried.
Those of us from the orchard group all made one for the orchard. I got to make a traditional and rare Gloucestershire cider apple …
Yes, it is called Hen’s Turds…. So only time will tell if they have taken and we have viable trees.