Graft is good!

Graft is good! Of course, I’m not talking about corruption, so all you politicians can settle back down again. I’m talking about grafting plants!

On Sunday, I attended the Advanced Grafting Workshop at Andrew’s Urban Farm, which, is connected to Joe’s Connected Garden via the owner, Andrew Thompson, who has been a big part of JCG for years. What Andrew doesn’t know about plants and horticulture probably isn’t worth knowing, just don’t start him talking if you have to leave in a hurry!

We had an intensive day of practical, hands on, safety and grafting instruction and training. The sessions taught us all about grafting knives and several kinds of grafts like the enticingly named ‘whip and tongue’ or the side and crown grafts, all suited to different situations and needs. We also had access to a lot of scions (that’s the name for the bit you graft onto the other bit) for many different types of trees. I brought home scions of a couple of varieties for each of our main fruit trees – Plum, Pear, Almond and Apple.

Once we get a couple of rain free days, I’ll give grafting a go!

My idea for Ligaya Garden is to reduce the size of the fruit trees, which were grown large in order to shade the house. Their size can be brought down to a more manageable 2.5 to 3 metres now because we have mastered the skill of growing a succession of food growing vines along the sunny side of the house in the hot weather.

A few months ago, I roughly pruned in order to reduce the size and another prune is due in Summer. I need to leave a lot of wood on the trees for now because some of them fruit on wood that is two or more years old, meaning that I have to gradually remove the old branches and let this year’s new wood mature. Then I can remove more next year, finally reducing the trees to a convenient size.

Reducing the size of the trees means that we will be able to reach more fruit, reducing waste and losses to pests. It will also be easier to net the fruit, reducing losses even further. Grafting new varieties onto the existing trees, should the grafts take, will give us a wider variety of ripe fruit over a bigger slice of the year, reducing the big gluts that we get now. This too will reduce waste.

Shrinking the size of the crowns of the trees will mean that we can get more light to the ground growing plants lower down and increase their health and vigour. I’ve even planted some berry bushes and many more edible flowers to brighten the place up. I’m hoping that having flowers throughout more of the year will feed the garden critters more effectively too. Everybody wins (except for the rats)!

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