2014 Grafting Adventures of CrazyED


5 year old buck +
Well folks I am on the home stretch here. I have 2 more trees to graft as of today 4/27. Assuming Lee decides to put down his box call and climb out of his turkey blind and mail me the Keepsake scions I can finally shut it down for the time being.

Yesterday I attended Weston Antique Apple's grafting class. It's the second time i've attended this particular course. I didn't go as much to learn how to graft, but more to mingle with other apple gurus and pickup some scionwood. I also shared a few of the ideas that I found helpful when grafting. Just like last year the class was taught by apple expert Dan Bussey from the SeedSavers Exchange in Decorah Iowa. They're the folks that publish the Fruit, Berry & Nut Inventory. The class was packed with over 30 people attending, quite the turnout. I also hung out with Sagittarius as he was in attendance too.

As my grafting for the year winds down, yesterday I did my first top work grafting job which I will be posting pictures and some notes on soon. I also did another (11) W&T grafts with some of the new wood I picked up at the class. Here's the new stuff I finished up last night. Weston's sells all these apples in the fall so in most cases i've been lucky enough to sample some of these and some of them are some fine eaters!

Russian Raspberry
Calville Blanc d'Hiver
Scarlett Surprise
Scarlett Surprise
Sops of Wine
King David
King David (M.7)
Prairie Spy
Prairie Spy
Dutchess of Oldenburg
Dutchess of Oldenburg
Autumn Berry

2014 Grafting Stats
  • 122 trees grafted on the year.
  • 54 Varieties, 34 New for me Varieties
  • I tried to put a big focus on adding more disease resistant varieties, but also continued to diversify, especially with crab apples.
  • Many many many THANKS to all the kind people that traded or sent me scionwood this year, it is truly appreciated! My exploration of different apples would not be possible without the generosity of many others. If I can ever return the favor don't be shy let me know!
Adirondack crab - 2
Airport Apple - 3
Anaros Crab - 3
Arkansas Black - 2
Autumn Berry - 1
Black Oxford - 5
Black Twig - 1
Bonkers NY - 2
Calville Blanc d'Hiver - 1
Centennial Crab - 4
Centurion Crab - 2
Cherry Bomb Crab - 2
Chestnut Crab - 2
Court Pendu Plat - 2
Dolgo Crab - 1
Dutchess of Oldenburg - 2
Enterprise - 3
Fireside - 3
Florina Querina - 4
Freedom - 2
Frostbite - 3
Galarina - 5
Golden Hornet Crab - 4
Goldrush - 1
Harvest Gold Crabapple - 1
Honeygold - 2
Hudson's Gold Gem - 2
Jonathan - 2
Keepsake - 2
Keiffer Pear - 1
Kerr - 2
King David - 2
Liberty - 5
Northwest Greening - 4
Olympic Pear - 1
Prairie Spy - 2
Pristine - 3
Red Critter Crab - 1
Roxybury Russett - 1
Russian Raspberry - 1
Scarlett Ohara - 2
Scarlett Surprise - 2
Sherry - 2
Snowsweet - 2
Sops of Wine - 1
Spartan - 2
State Fair - 2
Sweet 16 - 3
Westfield Seek No Further - 2
Williams Pride - 2
Winter Wildlife Crab - 4
Wolf River - 4
Yates - 1
Zestar - 1

For whatever reason the Golden Hornet Crabapple seems to be the only trees from the early batch that I grafted that aren't really moving around much yet. No real green on them but I will be patient and give them time. I do have one variety already putting on some pink blossoms and another one with white blossoms. The tallest growth I have on any tree so far is probably 3" of nice green growth. Good to see!

Yesterday my father came over to til my garden up which will be my tree nursery. I added (5) 5 gallon buckets of sand that I had and purchased another 7 bags of play sand from menards. I also had a ton of very well composted leaves that we put in as well. We tilled it up all nice so it should hopefully treat my baby trees well over the next year or two.

Stay tuned I will be posting some new pics soon.
Ed – What was your survival rate last year for your grafts?
Ed – What was your survival rate last year for your grafts?

Last year in my first ever attempts at grafting, I whip & tongue grafted 19 trees in May. 11 of those survived. In late august I t-budded 5 of the failed W&T grafts. One of those t-buds grew 12" last year, the other 4 did not do much growing. However I checked them yesterday and those other 4 all had huge green buds on them and they should grow into nice big trees this year. So if you want to get technical, 16/19 or 84%.
So last year at my folks house we discovered a seedling apple tree growing on top of an old flowering crab or plum that they have in their yard. We noticed this thing had some 2" yellow apples hanging from it in fall. I tasted one, it was awful. I told my dad we could try grafting another tree on top of it. This tree had a lot of trunks to work with, but i told my dad I would take a shot at it, and if these grafts survive we can cut down the flowering crab or plum.

Here's what I started with. You can see all the different trunks from the seedling apple. The bigger trunk in the middle is the flowering crab or plum. If the grafts take that old one will be removed.

I made a nice clean cut with my silky zubat saw. And opened up the cambium with my felco grafting knife and popped in a couple scions.


Once the scions were in I wrapped it up with some teflon tape, the same stuff I use when bench grafting. Just to try and keep the scions in there nice and snug.
I ended up grafting to 3 of the 5-6 trunks. I figured it was good practice, and they can have a Frankenstein tree or just select whatever they like best and cut down the rest. I gave them a nice selection of mostly disease resistant varieties.

Liberty, Galarina, Goldrush and Pristine. Early/Mid/Late maturity.

Here are some of my bench grafts, these were done probably 4 weeks ago now and have been resting in my basement (56 degrees, cool and dark). I think this pink one might be an Adirondack crab from Greyphase.

Here's another one, hard to tell but it's got some white blooms coming. I don't recall what variety this one is. As you can see in the background of my pictures, lots and lots of nice growth on many of these.

Here's my vegetable garden turned fruit tree nursery. Last year everything was grown in roottrapper bags, this year everything is going in the ground. Typically our area is very heavy clay. We moved into this house 5 years ago and ever since I have been adding manure and leaf / compost to the garden to try and loosen things up. Before my mix-a-thon we had a good 8-10" of heavy black stuff, and below that is pretty much dense tan clay. So what did I do. Well i got out the shovel and tried to remove all the better stuff on the top. Piled it to the side and tried to work up the bottom a bit more. This picture is not great but I removed probably 8" of soil in this area, just piled it on a tarp.


Here's the stuff I removed. As you can see it's still very heavy, a good amount of clay. This is 100000x different than the sand we have on our farm.


Once all that stuff was out, I had a bunch of this sand available, it had some tiny rocks but we just dumped it in the bottom and took the rototiller and roto'd the heck out of it. Just under (5) 5 gallon buckets full. I also had 4 more bags of store bought play sand (Sand box type stuff) that we put in.


Once we had the base level tilled up with the sand added, I shoveled all the black dirt / clay in that was removed earlier. Chunk by chunk we tossed and shoveled it back in, tilling it up. 3 more bags of sand too, in my best attempt to get this location more loamy. Once all the dirt was in, next we put in some composted leaves. These i raked up last fall and just kept them in the same garden.

When we were all said and done I think I have a pretty good area to work with. Here's what it essentially looks like throughout, the sand did help a lot and it's much more loamy. It could still benefit from more sand which will probably get added in the future but for now I'm going with this. Hopefully start moving some of my grafts out next weekend if it ever warms up around here. The garden is fenced with 48" high welded wire.

Lots of hard work there, Ed!

keep us posted and keep up the pictures.
Here's some images from the May 2013 W&T grafts that failed, I t-budded them in August of 2013. Here's a picture from August at the time of t-budding. Whenever you bench graft you should always let one bud on your rootstock take off, that way if your graft fails you still have a tree that is actively growing. Pictured below you see my "B118" trunk growing to the right, and my failed w&t graft on the left under the blue tape. Then below you can see I t-budded a zestar! bud onto the B.118 tree.

August 11, 2013

December 2013, you can basically see I have a bunch of B.118 "Whips". it's difficult to see in these pictures but I t-budded them all to Zestar!. Zestar! is probably my favorite apple to eat.

March 15, 2014 I removed my grafting (teflon) tape. On the same day I cut off the B.118 tree right above my Zestar! bud. I don't have pictures of that, but I made a nice angled cut so water will run off the tree.
Here's what 2 of them look like today

April 27, 2014

Now you can see on this one, the red bud on the left is actually the rootstock budding out again, that will need to be pinched off and the green bud on the right pictured will become my tree, or there is another green Zestar! bud on the backside that is not visible in this picture. I will probably let them both grow and later decide to keep the most vigorous of the 2.
Some very interesting stuff Ed.
Can't wait to see the pics! That's an impressively diverse list.

2 Prairie Spy's were completed so hopefully I can get you that other one you asked for :)
:DEd-I'm going to be picking the three great minds about this t-budding
MES-Maya,Ed, and Stu=MES
:DEd-I'm going to be picking the three great minds about this t-budding
MES-Maya,Ed, and Stu=MES
art t-budding is way easier than bench grafting (w&t, cleft, etc). most commercial operations bud their trees.
Stu explained the basics to me on the way back from the grafting class.
Yeah I mean basically when the bark slips in August make a t-shaped cut. take a bud from a tree you want to clone, it should be from the current years growth. trim the leaves if needed, flip the tiny piece off the back. insert into t-cut, tape up, done. it's really that easy. I was 10 for 10 last year.
Johnny Appleseed couldn't hold you a light to go by Ed! Just awesome!
Here is Penn State's video on t-budding:

I had posted previously that I bark grafted 6, two year old "Midwest Crabapples". Basically making them into root stocks. I cut them off about 4" above the ground, and then grafted them. As of today 5 out of 6 of my scions are showing life!:) Looks like the one not showing life could be due to a poor seal on union. I also began the process of acclimating some of my benchgrafts to the outdoors yesterday, I have had them in a refrigerator. Hopefully I will get them planted in a couple of days. A few of are already showing life.