Wednesday 13 March 2013

Visiting A Tree Nursery

The more I've thought about the grafting course the more I've been annoyed about it. I just didn't feel that he taught us the correct method or in a very good way, with little knowledge to back it up. My dad knew how annoyed I was so he spoke to a customer of his and arranged for me to visit a local nursery that is currently on grafting.
Three cordon apple trees
This nursery performs in the region of 300,000 - 400,000 grafts a year (plus summer budding) so they really know what they're on about.
Inside the warm grafting shed they've got a number of production lines set up. The first guy trims the roots and cuts the root stock to size (as the trees they were working on were all going to be potted up), the next guy cuts the graft and then a third man ties it and dips it in wax.
 The man making the grafts did them so perfectly each and every time and I was advised that the best way for me to practise is to go and cut some willow and use that to try out the cuts. The grafts here were much neater than the ones I saw the previous week, and as a whip and tongue graft was used, instead of just a whip, it seemed much stronger (You couldn't even spot the graft on some of them).
A seven level espalier
 I didn't take any pictures in the grafting shed or where they keep their thousands of bits of scion wood (a massive cold store) as I didn't think it was appropriate to at the time. But I did take pictures of their trained trees outside their office, all done by the head manager there! I hope my apple trees will look like this in a few years time.
A fan trained tree
 I was there for a good hour asking question after question and they didn't seem to mind at all, they just seemed pleased I was so keen. They even invited me back at anytime to see what they do next with the trees - I've told them they might regret that offer!

Trained into different shapes

Young trees being trained
An amazing way to spend a morning and I feel that I learnt so much from them. I've ordered 25 root stocks and tonight I went and cut some willow to practise on.
It was a shame that the course I went on last week was so half hearted, but I am very lucky to be able to go and speak to people who are so obviously passionate about what they do and run a thriving local business. It's also so nice to be able to speak to professionals like this who are so open with their knowledge and keen to pass it on.
Anyone local with old or interesting varieties of apple let me know so I can take a cutting, as I need some more varieties for my root stocks when they arrive!


  1. I have apple trees on my farm down south that came over with the Portuguese centuries ago. They are old, wizened and gnarled but still produce apples. Now how do I get viable cuttings to you in England?

    The last time you replied to one of my questions re root stock, you said they would survive the trip from UK if they were dormant. When is the dormant period?

    1. That would be amazing but I don't know if your seasons match up with ours (or anything about your seasons for that matter). To tell if they're dormant the leaves are off the trees over winter. They're not really growing and it's before the sap has started to rise. For us we've only really got another weeks or so here and thats cutting a bit fine. The alternative is to do summer budding but I haven't learnt that one yet! If the leaves are off your trees at the moment then we could do a cutting (about 8 inches of last years growth. Let me know and I'll send you my email address! Cheers!

  2. Grafting is something I am interested in mastering myself!

    I have recently been reading about air layering. I am not not sure what all can be air layered (rooting method) but its a most interesting process. Looks to be any type of tree or bush with hard wood etc.

    Supposedly it is a easier method than rooting cuttings. I am going to try it this year. A way to clone a tree. I am way behind on reading blogs so I am not sure if your trying to clone or improve on what you have by grafting. I am wanting to clone some of what I have.

    This site has info on it.. if your interested. Its a most ineresting way to clone a tree/plant. Good video on this site to show you exactly how to do it.

    By the way, my Rooster he is a Plymouth Rock (barred rock), well he had the most beautiful comb, but now he has black on the tips of it? It has not been cold enough here for it to be frost bite. I massaged a good amount of triple antibiotic ointment into it last evening but was just wondering. Any guesses as to what this is? He is one of the chicks I got at the end of last October. So that is his age. He is a great looking fellow and I am hoping he isn't ill.

    1. Your chicken sounds like a little frost bite but it could have happened months ago (it can take a while for it to come through). Other than that I'm stumped - I might have to go dig out my chicken illness book where ever that is!
      In doing these grafts I'm cloning the tree (and type of apple) but choosing how it grows by the root stock that I put it on.
      The air layering sounds interesting I might have to try that with some fig cuttings if the ones I took last year don't survive. I'll have read of that link thanks!

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