[nafex] Grafting with Kids

Idell Weydemeyer iwgarden at earthlink.net
Fri Feb 1 18:42:30 EST 2013

I taught grafting to several college classes, high school students and
Master Gardner classes and two groups of 5th, 6th and 7th graders. 

For the young students, with carful instruction on the safe use of the
knife, and adults to assist, all the students did well. The key was several
ways to cut in the safest manner and how to pass a knife from one person to
another safely.  For the 5th- 7th graders there were about 18 student per
each class both times and we grafted close to 70 trees each time. The
college and high school classes did over 100 trees (with classes from 18-28
students) but since they had only about 1.5 hours for each class, it took us
two classes. 

I used the plain jackknives that you get at Big 5 sporting goods store (on
special for $10) plus some stiff short kitchen paring knives.  We used the
pruners to make the start of the cut on the rootstock, the spread it with
the knife to do a cleft graft. We used a cutting board to make the scion
insert so students could make cuts away from themselves. 

The only issue with knives that are not super sharp (so they are safer), is
that they do not completely finish with just a single cut on harder wood
like apple. You have to whittle with 2-4 cuts to get the scion to fit
correctly.  On trees that are in the ground, for one class, we used all whip
grafts and saddle grafts since they are easy to do by cutting safely away
from oneself. 

Idell Weydemeyer

-----Original Message-----
From: nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:nafex-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Sherlock Terry
Sent: Friday, February 01, 2013 10:29 AM
To: nafex mailing list at ibiblio
Subject: [nafex] Grafting with Kids

All of the recent messages about grafting knives made me wonder about how to
do grafting workshops with kids. I still remember someone coming to my 6th
grade class and talking about grafting but we didn't try any. My main
questions are about tools and what ages to try it with.

I've been helping take care of the fruit trees and berries at my daughter's
elementary school and both the fifth and sixth grades have fruit growing as
part of their science curriculum. They would be interested in grafting in

What are the youngest kids that people have tried grafting with?

Would using one of the squeeze grip grafting tools be safer and work better
than knives?

Is top working easy to reach branches a possibility or do people think that
is too difficult compared to bench grafting?

I was also thinking that it would be a possibility to let each child bench
graft their own tree, but I wonder about the post-grafting tree care and if
coming home with an apple tree is more of a burden than a gift. Are there
any small plants that can be grafted? Does anyone have experience grafting
tomatoes? I know the rootstock seed is very expensive.

Now that I'm writing this, I'm wondering if softwood or hardwood cutting
plant propigation would be a better class activity.



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