Grafting Apples
at awkward times

On your Leicestershire Heritage Apple project page you were asking for information about preserving graft wood taken in late summer or autumn. The following is from my own experience.

One day in mid-September about 20 years ago I noticed an interesting looking apple growing in a hedge. The apples themselves were ripe, or nearly so, and the tree was in full leaf. I cut off a piece of current year's wood complete with leaves, and took it back to my car. There I had a litre bottle of water just over half full. The cutting was inserted, cut end first, so that damage to the leaves was kept to a minimum, the bottle lid replaced, and thus I got it home.

I did not have the opportunity to do anything with it for a day or two and the cutting remained in the bottle with the top screwed on. I then cut the bottom off the bottle and thus got the cutting out without further damage to it. The bottom leaves were then removed and the cutting inserted into a pot of gritty garden soil. A couple of bits of stick a little longer than the cutting were also inserted to act as support for a clear plastic bag which went over the whole thing. The pot was then put into a saucer of water and that placed in the north facing window of an unheated room. Apart from making sure the pot remained well watered, nothing more was done till the beginning of November. By this time the leaves had abscissed and fallen off. The cutting was then carefully removed from the pot in the faint hope that it might have formed roots - of course it hadn't. I then cut the cutting in half - it was about 9 inches long - and the two pieces were rolled up in a square of wet - sodden - newspaper. This in turn was then rolled up in a small plastic bag and the end folded over so that it was more or less airtight. It was then tied with string so that it had no chance of coming undone, and placed in the salad drawer of our fridge. There, looking like an abandoned cigar, it remained undisturbed till the following March.

The two scions were then grafted on to suitable root stocks. I can't remember if they both took, but one certainly did for I have the resultant tree to this day. It is of no particular merit!

I hope this story may be of assistance to you.

Jim Streeton

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