Jun 9, 2011

Fruit Geek

Went to a grafting clinic on Saturday which was amazing! It was put together by the local chapter of the "California Rare Fruit Growers Society" and was hosted at a member's house outside of Sebastopol. About 30 people were there, mostly old farmers, and I was in heaven.

The host gave a talk and demonstrated a few different grafting techniques, and everyone introduced themselves - all either small farmers/growers and home gardeners - all seriously crazed fruit geeks. The host provided apple root stock and I had brought my own
root stock too, plus
my scions (fruit wood branches for grafting) that I had gotten at the previous month's scion exchange .

So I grafted everything and now have 6 apple, 2 pear, 1 peach, and I have more peach & pear scions so I need to get more stock for them. I plan to group them together in the same hole - this is a technique for people with a small amount of space - so it will sort of seem like 1 tree but with multiple trunks. They don't compete with each other too much if they're all on the same rootstock. I'll have fruit coming in throughout the year with the different varieties I've grafted. I was going to try doing multi-grafts onto one stock but didn't realize that I can't really do it that way with the stock that I bought online - when it arrived it has only one trunk so I can only make one graft per stock. But, if any of them don't make it I can always just put more scions on the branches of whatever tree survives and that way still end up with many varieties.
This is just a start - I have space for more trees so I'm thinking about cherries, kaffir lime, currant, weeping santa rosa plum (santa rosa plums are a staple for this area), and then we'll see what space I have left for more. In between the trees I plan to put in strawberries and maybe blueberries, if I can find good varieties that do well in this climate.

Anyhow, I walked the host's property with him as he went around cutting off scions from his trees,
so I've got some very special and rare varieties that are hard to find. I love this group of old farmers - they told some great stories about their fathers and grandfathers, about how they came to the land they have now, and what they've done with it. Farmers are geeks at heart!
This one old guy had been a machinist but now he's retired and a total fruit geek. He brought grafting knives he had made from applewood and machinist blades, etc. He made labels from cutting up soda cans, he was giving these out to everybody. All the old farmers were like this - wanting to show you how to graft and insisting that you take their
doodads and root stock for free.

I love old farmers.

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