Apple grafting, the low tech way.

I’ve done a bit of apple grafting but never anything on a large scale. I’m not skilled, I don’t have years of experience but I can say that it has almost always worked, in that the grafts have been successful.

I was however a nurseryman and I did have access to rubber ties and grafting wax and I suppose you could argue that it gave me an advantage that would be tricky for most gardeners to secure.

A year ago I blogged about grafting onto an unproductive step-over tree in a friends garden. All of the grafts took and some made an amazing amount of growth in their first year. I should do a follow up on that particular blog but for now I want to describe a very small scale effort in my own garden.

I took scions from a tree of an unknown but seemingly excellent apple variety on Thursday, intending to graft them onto a tree of ‘Holstein’ I have growing in the garden. I changed my mind when I saw that I had four shoots of what looks like apple coming from the ground elsewhere in the garden. I don’t know what they are, they could be seedlings or more likely they are suckers from an apple tree I removed nearby a couple of years ago. They struck me as perfect for this experiment.

I made a tapered cut at the base of the scion, then a matching cut on the rootstock. I arranged the two pieces and taped them up with insulating tape in a fetching blue colour. I taped from below the graft, overlapping the turns carefully and making sure that at the top, the tape was sticking to the scion all round so water couldn’t get in. All I have to do now is wait to see whether they take.

The prepared scion.
Scion on the left, rootstock on the right, a reasonable match hopefully.
Scion and rootstock brought together, tied and shortened to about four buds.

I hope it works because it will show that apple grafting can be done with no specialist kit at all. With the size of gardens that most people have these days it’s a way of growing a single apple tree and still getting good pollination, not having to choose just one variety and if a tree isn’t cropping well, of changing it to something else.

If it works expect a follow up in spring or summer. If it fails, expect a follow up in spring or summer, but a shorter one.



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