Grafting Apples

My gardening adventures have taken on a whole new path with our long summer absence.  I leave my husband here and the kids and I spend a good chunk of the summer with family on the St. Lawrence River. My husband isn't an enthusiastic gardener, so I try to leave him with minimal care.  I plan my garden differently, putting in more that will ripen before we leave, less varieties that ripen during our absence and a bunch that will ripen upon our return. I'm also doing more long term plantings rather than just annuals.  Plus, mulch, mulch, mulch. There is certainly a learning curve, but my yield, although different if we're here all summer, is steadily increasing. 

My orchard is at 17 trees strong.  I think there are 4 from 2013 (there were 5, I lost one plum), 7 from 2015, 1 I transplanted in 2016 or 17 and 5 from 2022. 4 are pits, 13 are pomes.  With the cost of some store bought bagged apples over $1 per apple and me having alllll this field I'm itching to plant, I figured apples are a sure way I could expand.  It would be great to someday have plenty to share with friends, malus domestica for all!  

So, what goes into apple grafting? That I'm learning.  I bought scion wood to add gala (girls' fave), baldwin (winter ripening) and freedom (disease resistant) apples, but am also planning on saving some scion as I prune this month. I bought 10 rootstock I plan to graft it onto.  Plus I have five apple trees on this property that are full sized and healthy, but the apples are not good.  I plan to graft both rootstock and established trees this spring. I'll pot up the rootstock apple trees for a few weeks before getting them into the ground. Haven't decided if I'll plant in my garden for a year to strengthen and make sure they are watered or plant directly in their forever location. I also have plans to do a soil test. Apples need slightly acidic and I really want to work to maximize the soil to have the best product I can. It's a lot of work now, but hopefully 4-5 years from now I will be glad I put in the effort.  Someday when all is producing, I will have late summer apples, fall apples and winter apples (which will be stored in the basement for winter ripening/use). 

Thankful for the confidence I gained in giving this a whirl from my Master Gardener Volunteer coursework and my dad for giving me birthday money to buy all things grafting.

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