They say you learn more through your mistakes than your successes, if that's true then I'm learning a lot. One important thing I learnt last year was not to mulch young apple trees with straw, although it stopped the weeds it also provided a perfect little haven for mice to chew at the bark of some of my trees.
I was gutted when I spotted this a month or so ago, a few trees had been completely ringed by the little sods. But the damage was done so I just had to think how to get over it and prevent it in future. I will be adding tree guards to all of these even though they're protected by a rabbit fence, hopefully that'll stop it happening again.
The trees in question happen to be part of my row of cordons, and they were growing nicely. It would be a shame to loose any, but the damage extends down to ground level, not enough bark left to do a bridge graft like I have done on a previously damaged tree in the orchard.
I decided to try some inarching, this is where I basically graft a new rootstock on to the tree whilst it's still insitu and this should keep the sap flowing next year. The process is quite simple but in practice it's fiddly, although I have a few trees to do to so I should get better at it!
|New rootstock added along side the old one|
|The end of the new rootstock cut into a wedge shape. It should go to a point without a flat bit shown on the picture. |
The side against the tree is cut slightly longer to give a larger area for cambium contact.
|The wedge of the new rootstock being inserted in to the scion of the old tree. This should hopefully keep it alive. It's essential to make sure that the cambium layers are touching (the layer just under the bark) as this is where the sap flows.|
|Different tree but showing the grafting tape holding it all tight.|
I need to do this to about 8 trees in a row of thirty, luckily I have a lot of rootstocks to use as I haven't started this years grafting yet. They seem to have only gone for some trees and not others, they didn't touch my nursery of over 150 trees luckily - otherwise I might be weeping! My plan is to keep these trees alive for another season and then take some scion wood from them so I don;t loose that variety and maybe replace the trees when I have new ones grown depending on how they do.
The more grafting I do and the more I practice it, the bigger asset having this skill becomes. If your a keen gardener then I urge you to try it. I might do a little video on this if anyone is interested?
Anyone else been grafting this year yet?