Grafting apple trees

I just finished grafting 24 apple trees and now I sit back and hope the grafts take.  Grafting is a tedious job but very rewarding when the graft works and little trees start bearing green leaves.  In the past I’ve tried grafting to root stock all ready in the ground but with only a couple good results.  My biggest challenge is keeping small birds from lighting on the tips and breaking the graft loose.  This year I’ve done things a little differently and I’m going to show everyone interested the step by step instructions with pictures.

First, I got this root stock last spring (2011) and potted it in large flower pots with good potting and garden soil mixed.

They all lived and late last fall I carried them all to the basement of the Mansion (original homeplace name).  All of them survived our mild winter and three weeks ago I brought them out of the basement to meet  the spring sun and adjust to the outdoors again.  Now to the grafting!

First you need to have a few tools on hand and I’ll provide a picture but the list is short:

Grafting tool, pruners, grafting tape, grafting wax, magic markers, ice cream sticks, rags for wiping your hands, alcohol

Some people use a pocket knife for making the graft but a couple years ago I had the opportunity to see a grafting tool used at a class I took.  It’s well worth the money because it make “perfect” matches on the root stock to the scion wood (small limb taken from the tree you want a duplicate of).  I’ve attached below a picture of the root stock and the scion wood I collected.  The alcohol is used to sterilized your tools in the beginning and between each graft.This is the scion wood collected in February and kept in a cool dark spot.

Notice the cuts the grafting tool made in each piece and hopefully you can see how the pieces are cut like a jigsaw puzzle that hooks together.  You push the two pieces together and make sure they match good and then tape them tightly together using the grafting tape.  Once I’m sure they’re still connecting correctly and tape is tight, I  pinch off a piece of grafting wax, work it in my fingers to make soft and pliable and pinch it in a two inch long, flat yellow strip (this stuff is sticky and gooey and hard to work with) and ease it on and around the grafting tape.  The grafting wax is horrible to work with but it  seals around the tape to keep bugs and germs out of the graft until it takes.    Some people use only the tape.  Next I mark the ice cream stick with the name of the type tree I grafted to the root stock, stick it in the pot along side the tree and gently carry it outside and sit in the sun where nothing will disturb it.  That’s how you graft.  Simple as mud, right??

I water the trees well at least once a week and watch for the scion to start making leaves.  This won’t happen overnight but check them frequently to make sure nothing disturbs them.  In the fall, I’ll take them back to the basement, water well and leave until the next spring and watch the leaves come again.  I’m planning to set them in our orchard their second year to make sure they will make it.  I’ll also fertilize them once I see growth.  Good luck and I’ll post how they’re doing as the year goes on.  My grafts this year came from Stark, Mammoth Pippin, Stayman, Gibson Golden, Falle Water, and Transparent trees.                                                                                                                                                                    The board fence protects them from the wind, they get the sun and birds will perch the fence instead of the grafts.

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