Thursday, March 10, 2016

Grafting revisited

I feel the need to clear up a misconception I've encountered with growing frequency: I don't have a green thumb. I'm not terribly good with plants. If it's in a pot, odds are that I will kill it sooner rather than later. Not through abuse or neglect, mind you, but by doing everything I'm supposed to in order to assure perfect growing conditions. I've killed countless types of passion flowers this way. Conversely, if I plant something outside, in the ground, where it can generally fend for itself without my constant attention, then the plants do pretty well for themselves. Hence my acquired preference for fruit trees. That image to the left? That's a little fly camped out on blossoms of my Santa Rosa plum. I planted this plum tree last year (we had a dwarf version at the old house) and it always produced a brilliant display of popcorn-like blossoms in early spring, followed by dark red, sweet-tart fruit. I might actually get a few plums off it this year. That would be nice, although the other plum tree isn't blooming so I don't know what to expect regarding cross pollination.

What I'm really jazzed about are these next two images. Take a look. The first is of the Hall apple graft on the old dwarf apple tree on the south side of my yard, and the second is of the Yates apple graft on the old dwarf tree on the north side of my yard. Cleft grafting is the easiest type of grafting there is, apples and pears are very cooperative when it comes to grafting, and I've had great success with it in the past. That said, there's always a period of uncertainty in the early spring when the grafted wood is dormant and I'm left to worry "Is the graft taking? Is the wound healing? Or is the bud wood dead and the graft a failure?" It's not until the buds break on the grafted sticks that I can exhale a little in relief. There are things that can still happen to ruin the grafting attempt, but the biggest hurdle is past. I also had bud break on a Hewe's Virginia crab apple bench graft I got earlier in the spring, which I'm happy about. Now, all I need are the other nine grafts on the two trees to show signs of active growth and all will be well.

Hall heirloom apple budwood graft

Yates heirloom apple budwood graft

Other times, the graft doesn't waste any time letting you know it's happy. This image below is of a Meadows pear scion I grafted onto my Purdue pear tree about four weeks ago after getting the wood through a trade with another grower. Once it finishes flowering I'll pick them all off to ensure the scion doesn't try to make any fruit. First, the fruit would break the fresh grafting union before it completely healed, and secondly, I want the tree to put all its energy into growing the graft this season. But it's still nice to see such obvious early success.

Elsewhere, I've got an agarita bush in the front yard in full bloom (below). I hope to add more of the tart-berried native plant in the future. The fruit makes a great wine and the plant is drought-tolerant and simply wants to be left alone (the sharp thorns on the holly-like leaves are testament to that). Second down is the Galaxy peach I planted last year in bloom. It's blooming a lot. Supposedly these garish, magenta blossoms are self-fertile, but just to be sure, the Red Baron peach about 15 feet away is breaking out into some serious color as well. Most everything else I have is still dormant, but with the warm weather and recent rains, I expect everything to be breaking out any day now.

Now Playing: Pink Floyd Delicate Sound of Thunder
Chicken Ranch Central

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