Saturday, March 14, 2015

Apple Grafting. 3.14Not a p.15

Materials for grafting.  3.14.15

First cut, with pruners, to approximate size.  3.14.15
 For Pi day- 3.14.15 -  I grafted a little apple tree.  To begin life for a pie. 

This scion came from an aged apple tree that hangs over my back fence.  I do not know the variety.  It must be 55 years old - it looks it.  Maybe older. The tree gets no pruning, no spray, and no thinning.  As a result, the apples are lumpy and small and wormy.  The few that escape that fate are tasty.  It may be a while before the Fedco scion arrives - if ever.  I have one M27 - minidwarf - rootstock left over from last year, so decided to construct a new little tree, from scion, taken from a branch, from that apple tree.  Once in my hands, it will be pruned, and apples will be pampered, so maybe will be bigger, and not lumpy or wormy.  That is the plan.

This time, instead of polyethylene strips, I used parafilm.  It's easy to buy through Amazon.  I don't know that parafilm is any better than polyethylene.  If no strips are available, it's easy to cut strips from plastic food bags, which is free and recycled and easy.

Parafilm does make a good air-tight-looking seal.  I don't know if it stretches quite as tight.  Maybe.

The rootstock was larger diameter than the scion.  As long as the cambium matches on one side, the graft should take, and fill in the other side.  Apple grafts are pretty forgiving.
Second cut, with knife, for whip matching.  3.14.15

Cutting the tongue.  3.14.15
Fitting the graft together.  3.14.15
 Forgot to use macro setting for first few photos.  The rest are more clear.

I tightened the parafilm so the bent cut edges matched.  I did not draw out a long tail on the ends this time.  Last year when I did that, they curled away from the graft and needed to be cut off.  The church window that remains will fill in, on its own.
On one side due to size mis-match.  3.14.15

It's OK if it doesn't take.  Prior experience tells me it might.

Meanwhile, the whip-and-tongue grafts I did on one-year-old columnar trees a couple of weeks ago, have swelling terminal buds.  That's better than dead terminal buds.   If they take, the bottom branches will have red apples, the next ones up will have yellow apples.  If next year is good, a third tier of another red could be added.  That would make for a couple of unusual trees.
Wrapped with parafilm.  3.14.15


  1. Thank you for the grafting demo and the web link. I've been pouring over the site, very helpful info. I've not done a whip and tongue yet but am please with the cleft and parafilm results. This is my first time using parafilm after the grafting class I bough some over there and it seem to be very easy to use. I don't think I'll go with the drippy messy bees wax again. The instructor say you need to stretch the tape as thin as you can then it will wrap tighter. Does your tape stretch thin? I may buy more tape on Amazon too. So far looks like Sierra plum, Old Fashion Delicious, Esopus Spitzenberg apple took. The E.S. is Thomas Jefferson's favorite apple but is very susceptible to disease. The whip and tongue is great for the sandwich effect you want for your apple. Mine is rather a patch work of grafting on side limbs. Grafting is a great hobby when it works, its like a work of art. I want to see your layer of apple of different colors.

  2. Lance, the whip and tongue is really easy. I think the interlocking aspect might make the grafts take better, and more cambium contact. It takes a little more cutting skill, but I can do it an I am not a fine craftsman. The main thing is to have a very sharp knife, so it doesn't catch in the wood and slip, causing a major cut on the grafter. It helped a lot to practice on prunings, until I knew how the wood responds to the knife. I don't know how to explain it but I steady my hands while cutting. I sharpen the blade between each cut. I am gradual making the cut, and try to be safe.

    I don't know yet how I feel about Parafilm. It's cleaner than the asphalt emulsion, and probably fewer carcinogens. Maybe my Parafilm tape was too wide. I found it difficult to stretch and hold the graft together at the same time. Polyethylene feels easier in my hands, more stretchy, and stretches more uniformly. I have a roll of each, now, so it will give me a chance to see what happens. The important thing in the end is, do the grafts take?

    Congrats on your grafts taking! The varieties sound interesting. It's sobering to eat something that Thomas Jefferson grew. He also liked Lattarula fig, another name for White Marseilles.

    I had a graft of Esopus Spitzenberg that grew like crazy, then died last winter. I don't know what killed it, maybe voles. I planted a multigraft apple in its place last week or 2 weeks ago. Probably better, more disease resistant varieties.