At our Hard Graft / Made Easy workshops you’ll learn to perfect the not-so-dark-art of fruit tree grafting. All while preserving lost, local and heritage varieties from some of the best kept orchards around Greater Manchester.
What is Top Grafting:
Earlier this year many of the fruit trees in Platt Fields had a jolly good prune after years of neglect. Some of the trees were in really bad shape or we identified as having potential for being revived. In essence top grafting brings literal new life to a dying or older tree. A large cut is made right through a limb of the tree, sometime taking the tree back to stump. Around the edges of this large cut scions are then wedged and held in place. These then grow on to form new branches. There is also the opportunity to get creative and graft more than one variety to the same tree. A process often referred to as making a ‘family tree’.
Led by expert trainer Mark Simmonds (Coop Culture) and assisted by Helping Britain Blossom Project Manager Dan Hasler together they have over a decade of grafting experience and knowledge. And you’ll be able to return in the years to come to see if your top grafts have taken.
Paid for ticket holders will receive a grafting tool to keep as part of their ticket price.
GRAFTING TERMS EXPLAINED
These are bred for their vigour, they have funny names like M9, M25 and MM106, this all refers to their known potential from the final size of tree. An M9 would typically be used in a commercial orchard and grow to the size of about 2m or 7ft. Our preferred rootstocks for home and community orchard settings tend to me MM106, which are more versatile and grow to about 3-4m in height.
This is cut from an existing fruit tree, usually when the tree is still dormant. So January is a good time to harvest scions. This carries the genetic material of the variety that you want to grow. So you might want A Cox Orange Pippin in your orchard, great! You need to start by finding a healthy, disease free Cox Orange Pippin tree, that has some new growth. This scion can be cut, trimmed to approx 6-7 buds in length. Cut ends can be wrapped in damp paper and then stored in a plastic bag. Preferably somewhere cold, the salad draw of a fridge is perfect for this.
Don’t be fooled if you tried planting your lovely Cox Orange Pippin pip you’d grow a variant or long distant cousin, it’d likely taste horrible too. Such is the mystery and beauty of fruit tree grafting. That’s not to say it would definetly taste horrible. Most varieties with ‘seedling’ or ‘pippin’ in their name likely grew from a pip. It’s a one in a million (or thereabouts) that you might be sat on the next Jazz, Pink Lady or Granny Smith.
For those paying for course you’ll receive a grafting tool to take away. That way you can have a go at home and perhaps try some bud or chip grafting during the summer. These will be explained on the day.
A very sharp, small knife. You can use disposable craft or Stanley knives for grafting although we swear by a trusty Opinel No.6. You wont find a better grafting knife and should last years if kept sharp.