One of the things that I have never done before is to try grafting. It always seemed to be a little to technical and specialized. I also never found the need to graft anything. I am not particularly expert in the ways of top fruit and this also made me much more reluctant to do anything drastic to the trees.
However, now that I have had a lot of practice (I don't know how successfully yet though) I am a little more confident in taking on the grafting challenge. So today I grafted three apples onto M9 root stock. The rootstock was containerized on the second of March in a 3:1 multipurpose vermiculite growing medium and left to grow on until the buds began to swell.
Today, I made a whip and tongue cut and grafted on Newton Wonder. The graft was covered with grafting tape and wax. Flushed with success, I also grafted Ribstone Pippin and James Grieves onto M9 rootstock. The M9 rootstock should give me a tree about 6 - 9 ft. tall. The grafts were covered with grafting tape and wax.
It is not as difficult as I imagined but it does need more care than a lot of other garden jobs. Care must be taken not to cut yourself with the very sharp knife. Care also has to be taken to make sure that cambium touches cambium in the graft.
So another new useful skill learnt.
I have also grafted Corylus avellana "Purpurea" onto Corylus avellana using a side veneer graft and this was quite difficult. Getting the cambium layer to match up is quite a challenge. These were wrapped with grafting tape and wax as normal.
Now the grafting that may be less successful is that of Salix caprea pendula "Kilmarnock" on large cuttings of Salix alba vitellina. Both the cutting and the graft need to take before the plant can grow on. I used traditional elastic ties for these grafts then covered the ties in wax. If it works I will be dead chuffed. If any of the grafts take then I will be dead chuffed.
I wanted the weeping head of Kilmarnock willow to be quite high off the ground so the rootstock had to be quite long. I doubt whether the length of the willow cutting will be that significant but I would have liked to have rooted the cuttings before doing the graft.
With the snow I have not been able to pot up the St. Julien A suckers which is a bit of a bind. The Moorcroft scions are fine in the cold store at about 5 degrees celsius but I would like to crack on and finish all the grafting so that I can concentrate on spring seed sowing. I have not got any grafting tape or wax having done the other grafting on the RHS course at Wolverhampton College so I am going to experiment wrapping the grafts with electrical tape and gaffer tape.
Grafting is not as hard as I thought it was. This will not happen until the end of the week if then.
However, the cold weather will enable me to do some other jobs such as servicing the lawn mower and reading the Mantis Tiller manual.
R.J. Garner's book "The Grafter's Handbook" has a great deal to answer for.