Monday, May 13, 2013

Grafting and Planting Trees and Other Homestead Notes

 Saturday was a busy day for us. There were plenty of homestead happenings going on. This year I ordered 50 trees through a program that our county has. You can get a lot of native trees (small ones) quite cheaply. I got a total of 50 trees and bushes for just a little over $60. 25 of the trees that I got were crab apples and I got them with the plans of using them for rootstock to grow apple trees that were bigger and tastier than crabs. To do that we needed to have some scions of good (but still hardy) apple trees. Thankfully those were not hard to come by as my Dad has a very nice orchard and he had to do some pruning anyway. He actually did his pruning a month of so ago but he wrapped up the scions and labeled them according to variety and stored them in the freezer for grafting time.

   Dad has over 50 apples trees and I think most of them he has grafted at some point or another so he is pretty practiced in this craft. I took all the little trees out to their place and we set to work. The picture above shows Dad and my brother Peter where we were working in my Dad's shop.

   The crab apples trees that I got were around 2- 3 feet tall. The first order of business is to find a scion (the section that was pruned off of the good tree) that is similar in diameter to the root stock and then cut all the limbs and much of the stalk off of the root stock. It is a little sad to cut the poor trees so but for the desired end result it is needed.

 Above it a picture of the root stock (on bottom) and the scion (laying on the rag).
 We find the place on each one that is most similar in size and then cut each at a sharp angle.
 They need to be able to fit up next to each other and fit just as closely as possible. Dad said that what is most critical for a good graft is not that the inside matches up perfectly but rather that the area just inside the bark matches up and fits very snugly together. After cutting with a clippers you probably will want to smooth it out and make it fit better using a knife.
 Next step is to make a little notch in the end of each one (the scion and the rootstock) so that they can kind of stick to each other. To do this you simply cut straight down (or up) into the stick about 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch just slightly above the middle of the stick.
 Then slide the two pieces together and you will find that will cause them to kind of stick together.
Below is the picture of Dad cutting that notch.
 Next step is to bind it together. We used tape that is generally used for electrical work, a silicone tape that is stretchy and fuses to itself. Dad had two types but the textured type I neither found at the store nor on Amazon.  
 We wrapped around 4-6 inches of tape around the place where we were joining the two parts of our new tree together. This tape works rather like florist corsage tape where you stretch and wrap at the same time.
That is all that there is to the grafting. I think that I will get better with practice but hopefully that the grafts I did this time will work too. If they don't at least I didn't spend much money on them. Dad did most of the notch making and fitting together and I did a lot of the taping while Peter made us nice metal tags to label each one with.

  After all our grafting we left some of the apple trees with Dad to plant at his place and then we came home with nearly 40 trees (14 apples plus the others) to plant at our place.

  It sure is nice to have plenty of helpers! The task still took a while but it was so much easier than if I or even Ken and I had been doing it by ourselves.

First you need to dig a hole. Even with the little trees you want a fairly big hole especially here at our place as our soil is not that great and pretty sandy. We dug a bit hole and when putting dirt back in we mixed a lot of composted dirt and goat manure in the mixture too.

After digging we are reading for planting and watering. We gave each tree a bit over a gallon of water right then and then came back around an hour later and gave them another gallon or so. That is now going to be a daily task (during warm weather) for the next couple of years! :-)
Besides apple trees we also got 5 Nanking Cherries, 5 Highbush Cranberries, 5 Rugosa Rosebushes, 5 White Pines and 5 Norway Spruces.
 We love the look of evergreens in the winter so Ken actually dug holes out in our woods for where we didn't have many evergreens and we added some there.

I didn't want trees in front of our bee fence but we thought roses would look pretty there without shading them too much and so Mara and Jonathan planted some there.

 The bees have been pretty busy lately collecting pollen. Many of the trees have pollen on them now. There is hardly any flowers at all yet so there is basically no nectar for them to get so I have been having to feed them. I checked them yesterday and they all looked lively and had full boxes. One box had a couple of funny yellow streaks in it which made me a little scared that possibly they have Nosema. After further research I don't really think that it is nosema but I don't really know, I am really praying that God will help the bees be okay if that is His will and that I will have wisdom in caring for them. I do truly believe that God wants us to come to Him with all our problems and share what is on our heart and bothering us, even something as little as bees.
Our indoor plants are continuing to thrive. The tomatoes keep growing very fast. These pictures were taken several days ago and they have actually grown quite a lot since then (the tall one is quite a bit above the lamp shade now and the other is growing fast too).  They are blooming a lot and it has been fun to watch the little tomatoes appear. We have grown tomatoes for years but never inside before and that really makes it much more up close and personal.
Can you see the little green tomatoes?

Our pepper plant is blooming a whole lot too and we have both tried to pollinate it ourselves as well as taking it outside some for the bees to do there work. Hopefully the job is getting done. Unfortunately some of the blooms have fallen off without producing fruit. One night I did forget it outside and it got rather cold so I don't know if that prompted some of the blooms dropping off our not.

  Our little seedlings that are getting ready for the garden are also doing well. They have a couple of weeks still before we will try to move them out. I think I may have gone overboard with planting but if they don't all fit in our garden then I think I will add more gardens in our yard. I am really feeling strongly that I would like to produce just as much food as possible.

What is going on at your place? Do you have any tips for a beginning grafter?

monday's homestead barn hop I am also linking to Clever Chicks Blog Hop


Maria said...

I am very impressed with the grafting! I hope they all take. My dad was a good grafter also. Unfortunately, I never learned the craft.

$60.00 for all those trees is a great price!!

Anonymous said...

great educational piece, I really enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week; I hope you’ll join us again!

Kathy Shea Mormino

The Chicken Chick


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