[NAFEX] Grafting

Tim Inman Tim at historicinteriors.com
Tue Feb 12 19:13:54 EST 2008


My input on grafting is this:  Do it!  I have been grafting for several years now, and I can tell you from my experience that it is just absolutely fascinating - and addicting!  Once you get a twig to stick on a root, and you will, you'll be hooked.  Grafting is so fundamentally simple that you can do it.  As you gain experience and success, you will refine your techniques and develop your own theories as to what works best.  All in all though, just go do it.  Later on, you can split hairs with others about how 'they' should be working.

My Iowa State Univ. extension horticulture specialist provided me with some basic grafting info.  It was great.  The Grafter's Handbook is a very good text, too.  Above all, use a skinny razor sharp knife and work quickly.  Learn to slice instead of plow with your blade.  I would suggest you get some sticks off trees RIGHT NOW, and begin practicing your surgery techniques.  It is simple, but practice makes the hands fly confidently, and you don't need to feel clumsy and slow when you're working with your 'real' little scions and rootstocks in a few weeks.

One thing the books weren't clear on when I was researching was 'when'.  They were all big on 'how' and 'why' but glossed over the timing.  My experience has been that I want my scions collected when they are fully dormant.  I prep them and put them in bags in the fridge until I'm ready to do the grafting.  I have been planting seedlings and buying rootstocks which I grow out in my garden nursery row during the summers.  When the ground has thawed completely so I can dig them, I bring them in and do the bench grafting.  They are just bare roots while I'm grafting, then I cover them with moist sawdust or shredded paper when I'm done so they won't dry out. I leave them in my warm office/shop a day or two to 'heal' before I take them back out and plant.  I either plant them where they will be, or I put them back in a nursery row in the garden.

If the grafts don't take (some will, some won't - it is Mother Nature's Odds Game you're playing), I let the little rootstocks throw out a shoot, and then later in the summer (4th of July), I try my hand at budding.  This is fun, and successful, too.

So, just go for it.  I can't tell you when I've had so much fun, and had the opportunity to meet so many great people than I have through my fruiting hobby.  Being able to rescue somebody's favorite tree or just being able to get something unusual for yourself is really neat.  Don't take 'no' for an answer, and get your knife sharp and get out there and whittle!  That's my advice.

Tim Inman
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