MOFGA scionwood exchange, this Sunday noon-4 in Unity

This Sunday at the fairground in Unity, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners are putting on a free swap event – folks will bring scions to share, and Fedco will be selling rootstock etc. I’ll be heading up to share some scions I cut off the orchard (mostly cider varieties, which I figure will be in short supply), and to get some Antonovka rootstock.

I learned how to do grafting at a MOFGA workshop last April, and it’s really magical – a little knowledge and a few simple materials almost gets you something for nothing. Scion is just a fancy word for the scraps of one-year-old growth that you trim off apple trees in the March pruning. Instead of throwing them on the compost pile, you put them in ziplocs with wet paper towel, and stick them in the fridge. Then, to make another apple tree, you just take a scion of the desired variety, make two simple cuts on the end, and splice it to a rootstock with the particular character you want – whether that’s robustness, dwarfing effect, etc. The rootstock gets the same two cuts, and they fit together as a ‘whip-and-tongue’ (google images knows what it looks like), with a bit of plastic tape around to keep the moisture in and hold them together. You only need one bud on the scion (or two to be safe) so it’s possible to make several new trees from a scion the size of a pencil. One important aspect is that the scionwood should be more dormant (e.g. because you kept it in the fridge) than the rootstock (which has been in a warmer place, enjoying the coming spring), so the rootstock has a chance to begin to heal the union before the scion wakes up and starts demanding resources from the roots.


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