The Joy of Grafting

Take a sharp knife and cut the stem of the scion wood sharply at a diagonal.

Take a sharp knife and cut the stem of the scion wood sharply at a diagonal. Then cut the stem of the rootstock at the same diagonal to create a matching cut. Place the two cuts together and tape them together. You now have a graft.

It seems so easy. At least, it seemed easy when Dan Bussey and Lindsay Lee, grafting workshop instructors at the Seed Savers Exchange, demonstrated. The Decorah, Iowa, non profit is most famous for saving heritage vegetable seeds. Less well known is their 700-variety apple orchard, the largest, most diverse public orchard of its kind.

During their two days of hour-long workshops, the orchardists introduced 120 novice grafters to the art. Band-aids were available for those of us more attuned to grafting our fingers than the branches of small trees.

However, when all was said and done, I had three grafted seedlings. Once I had them home, they went into the refrigerator to begin the healing process. About a month later, I planted them in my garden. A month after that, the truth was at hand as they began budding out.

My cuts may not have been the smoothest or the angles as close to 45 degrees as they could have been, but two out of three grafts caught. I have now added two new apple varieties to my orchard. Of course, it will be years before the first apple appears. In the meantime, I have the satisfaction that those grafts were mine.

For more on grafting workshops, visit Seed Savers Exchange. Consider attending apple bud grafting and vegetable grafting workshops at the annual Conference and Campout July 16 – 18.

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