Yep, we're growing that many different types of apples. It's an incredible collection of classic heirloom and wonderful connoisseur varieties. And almost none are what you'll find filling the bins of most grocery stores. Read more
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Grafting means attaching part of one apple tree to another to create more trees of a certain variety. This is the only way to get an exact copy.
If we planted an apple seed, we wouldn’t get an identical copy of the tree that produced the apple, just like human babies aren’t exact copies of their mothers. Genetics are more complicated than that. So we graft.
To graft, we attach a bud from the variety we want to the stem of a piece of rootstock. Ifthe graft bonds successfully, then the bud will grow into a tree of our chosen variety.
We choose the variety of apple (the type of bud we use) and rootstock, which influences the size of the tree, how many years it will take to start producing fruit and other important characteristics like disease resistance.
How we Graft
We use two different grafting methods:
1.The old-style method is to insert a carefully whittled stick of our chosen variety into the cut end of the rootstock. This is a ‘cleft’ graft. An improved variation is called a ‘whip and tongue’ graft, the method used most on Salt Spring.
2.Our preferred method is to cut out a single bud of the variety and insert it into a small opening cut into the bark of the rootstock. This is called ‘chip bud’ grafting.
The Secret to Grafting Success
Regardless of the grafting method, the secret is to make sure the thin green layer between the bark and the wood – called the ‘cambium’ layer – of the variety is in contact with the same layer of the rootstock. If they are in contact when the tree is growing and things don’t dry out, then they will bond and become one… Voila! Grafting success!
Apple Tree Development
In its first year after being grafted, an apple tree sprouts from the bud, growing as a single stem (called a ‘one year whip’) that’ll reach anywhere from six inches to six feet tall.
Before it starts growing in its second year, if this stem is tall enough, we prune off the tip to encourage side branches, where most of the fruit will be.
We train our trees to be fairly tall (8 feet) and narrow (4 feet), with minimal pruning and maximum training of branches so they grow sideways and are loaded with fruit! Our main fertilizer is a mulch of composted manure.
A Happy Orchard is a Healthy Orchard
By grafting the right varieties and then caring for our trees in ways that respect the soil and Mother Nature, we’re creating an orchard that produces delicious and healthy heritage and connoisseur apples sustainably.
From the moment we graft through to when the tree is in full production, our choices affect how bountiful – and how healthy – our harvest will be for years to come.