Apple Grafting

Apple trees. Rootstalk. Scion. The art of grafting.

We had the opportunity to learn this skillful art led by Nikki from Athol Orchards. Class started with everyone handing in their grafting knives so that Erreck could sharpen each one to make sure there was a sharp edge for cuts. Nikki guided us through the beginnings of grafting as she talked about her hero: Johnny Appleseed. The discussion progressed from the types of rootstalk and scions; and how scion—not apple seeds—determines the exact variety of apple that will be produced.

Our knives were handed back to us—along with a cutting block of wood branded black with their logo—as our session continued along with discussing the types of grafting and the equipment needed for this age old skill. The graft we were taught: Whip and Tongue. The concept is simple: cut rootstalk and scion to wed them together. Simple. Through trial and error, I learned how not-so-simple it is. As Nikki demonstrated through skilled hands that have practiced this craft over and over, I was finally able to get the cuts and grafts correct.

From properly grafting the two living pieces of tree together, to wrapping and gluing, I learned the importance of this ancient art.

Finished and outside to roam the orchard and see the different types of apple trees that reside and grow. As class closed, I was invited to feed alfalfa cubes to Loo—their Highland cow—and her calf: Miss Fancy.

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