Thursday, August 1, 2013

Topworking or, The Royal Society For Putting Things On Top Of Other Things

This year, is going to be a great year, for the royal society for putting things, on top of other things (Please see here for further explanation). I'm doing my bit for this illustrious society in the form of topworking. Topworking is an arborcultural process commonly employed in orchards where new varieties are grafted onto mature trees. The aim is to preserve all the time and effort that has gone into growing the existing tree while diverting its efforts toward a new crop. Two of my front yard fruit trees fall firmly into this category. A 'Story' Apricot and Plumcot, planted in the same hole have grown well but fruited poorly. The Story, known also as an Early Moorpark, grows like a rocket but produces a small crop for its size. The plumcot is a slower grower and last year produced its first ever fruit, singular. Long story short, I'm impatient and I don't have years to sit around waiting for a tree to produce just ONE fruit (although I actually do and probably will). My intention is to use these two trees as an experimental platform to test new grafting techniques I haven't tried before and to try some of the multitude of plum and apricot varieties available to kinds of people who sit up late at night looking at fruit on the internet. The grafting techniques best suited to topworking are the Cleft and the Bark Inlay. Both these are suited to joining stock and scion materials with dissimilar sizing. Choosing between the two may be merely a matter of preference and success rate, but I've also found that the Cleft graft is better suited to smaller stocks and Bark Inlay comes in to play with the thinker, older branches. Below are two Cleft grafts onto the Apricot. They vary only in the material used to seal the cleft as I decided tape would most likely provide the better seal. The first variety is a Green Gage from my next door neighbor. Like green lollies on a stick they are the sweetest plums I've ever tasted. The second is an unknown plum also next door. With a wide variety of unknown scion wood incoming its going to be fun detective work trying to find out what they all are. Coming up in the next post, my first attempt at a Bark Inlay graft.

The Plum and Apricot Experimental Grafting Platform or PAEGP, take that NASA.

Cutting the cleft and coddling it while the scion wood is prepared. The cut requires restraint and a hammer.

 Tile spacing wedges! My innovative contribution to Cleft grafting. They force open the gap and keep it open while you whittle away.

The first graft sealed with sticky purple grafting wax. I reckon when I'm an old man I'll still be using the same tub of this stuff.

I am particularly proud of the alignment of the wood on the right. I mean I'm my own harshest critic but, I think its master craftsmanship.

The tape sealed second graft.

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