[NAFEX] Old Technology
tolenio at sentex.net
Wed Mar 17 09:32:23 EST 2004
I do not suppose many of you have read "Cato on Farming"
(latin: De agri cultura), which is an old Roman text.
Personally, I just scan the English translation looking for
bits that I can apply today. Much of what I try to apply is
just common sense, that are good ideas.
Take this Cato example regarding the rooting of fruit tree
suckers from around the trunk;
"Those that you wish to layer more carefully, you can layer
in pots or planting-baskets with holes: they can eventually
be planted out without removing these. The aim is that they
take root while on the tree. Make a hole in a pot; take the
sucker that you wish to root through the hole. (Or basket.)
Fill the pot or basket with earth, firm it down well, and
leave it on the tree. In time, sever the sucker under the
basket. Make a cut in the basket from bottom to top; if a
cup, break. Plant out with the basket or pot."
What a handy idea for reproducing rootstock from a suckering
fruit tree. Root shock is minimized, and you have a potted
rootsock ready for winter bench grafting, or transplanting
down the road. You can even see the source of the idea of
today's bio-degradable planting pots in his planting out
I could go out and buy all the rootstosk I want, or "stump"
an existing rootsock I have, but for a small quantity of
rootstock, this is a viable alternative, that wastes little,
and the farmer had little to waste in those days..
Talk about OLD technology, it dates back to the first
century BC. That is when Cato wrote his text. The
procedure were common then, and my guess much older in
These are Cato's instructions for grafting;
"You a point. Tear off some Greek willow. Mix clay or chalk,
a little sand, and cow dung; knead well together so that it
becomes as sticky as possible. Take the torn-off willow,
bind round the cut stock with it and do not let the bark
break. At this spot, insert the sharpened twig between bark
and stock to a length of 2 fingertips breadth. Now take a
scion of the kind you want to graft, and sharpen its end
obliquely to 2 fingertips breadth. Remove the dry twig that
you inserted, insert the desired scion, match bark to bark.
Insert to the depth of the sharpened end. Make a second, a
third, a fourth graft in the same way; insert as many
varieties as you wish. Bind generously with Greek willow.
Seal the stock with the kneaded mixture to 3 fingers
breadth. Bandage with bugloss, so that water will not
collect on the bark: tie this bugloss over the bark in such
a way that it will not come off. Then cover with straw, and
tie, to avoid frost damage."
Same basic principles we use today, using common materials
of the period, and NOT even using a metal tool.
Just because a technology is old, does not mean it will not
work today, if based in good science.
Hardiness Zone 5b
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