Over the weekend the Pennsylvania Backyard Fruit Growers hosted their annual fruit tree grafting workshop at the Landis Valley Museum near Lancaster, PA. There was a great turnout of regular members, as well as new faces in the crowd lining up to obtain rootstocks and select their favorite scion wood from several long rows of tables loaded with options.
My intention was to swing by, drop off some kiwi scion wood, say hello to a few friends, and return home before noon. Well it didn’t work out the way that I planned, first they had a lot more scion wood dropped off by the members than anticipated and were running behind with the setup; so I was drafted to help out by labeling and organizing some of the apples and pears.
A Quick Lesson on Grafting, Training and Managing Kiwi Vines
Soon after the workshop officially opened I ran into Les, the club’s resident kiwi expert, and a question raised related to grafting kiwis turned into an impromptu workshop with a few of us gathered around to learn the the details on everything from grafting and training kiwi vines, to the best ways of propagating them from cuttings. My plan is to eventually have a single kiwi vine consisting of seven or eight different varieties of kiwi, including sections of male plants spliced in to provide the necessary cross-pollination.
This strategy will save space, help keep the vigorous vines under control, and produce a wide variety of kiwi fruit flavors. Going in, I had been unsure about the cleft grafting style that had been recommended, but left the conversation with Les confident that it will be super easy to make the successful grafts onto my vines. It’s one thing to read about a technique or see a picture but having someone step through the process makes a big difference.
Making Room in the Landscape for More Antique Apple Varieties
I didn’t intend to increase the size of my apple tree collection this year, but after walking around and checking out all the great apple varieties it was difficult to resist, and I wound up with a couple dwarfing rootstocks and nearly a dozen pieces of scion wood. The space for fruiting trees in my landscape is limited but that won’t stop me from coming up with creative ways to expand the number of varieties that I am growing.
In this case I will graft two new trees onto dwarfing rootstock and raise them in containers to join the citrus and fig trees that spend their summers on the patio. Then I will graft the remaining scion wood onto the branches of existing apple trees that are planted out in the side yard. The new varieties that I added include; York Imperial, Goof, Ashmeads Kernel, Caville Blanc d’Hiver, Hudson’s Golden Gem, and Cox’s Orange Pippen
Rewards of Membership with the Backyard Fruit Growers
By now it was already past the time that I had expected to return home when I heard Bass from Trees of Joy mention that a friend of his had come along and donated some pomegranate cuttings. Of course that led to another long conversation and cuttings from a couple new pomegranate varieties that were added to my bag of loot.
That brought my cache to two apple rootstocks, about a dozen varieties of scion wood, two cuttings of new pomegranates, and a piece of Dumbarton Oaks kiwi scion to graft onto my kiwi vine. The Backyard Fruit Growers Group is a great resource for anyone in the area who wants to grow more fruit and pick up new tips and ideas from other members who offer a wealth of knowledge and experience!
An Anxious Ride Home after the Grafting Workshop
After making another lap around the room I noticed groups gathered together to receive assistance and work on grafting their new trees in the hope that they will one day yield fruit in their own gardens and orchards. My last stop was to grab a bundle of the cardboard tubes containing dormant orchard mason bees before heading home.
After debating where to stow the bees I decided to risk it and let them ride up front in the passenger seat. It was a chilly ride home as I cracked the windows and turned the heat off for fear that otherwise I would have bees waking up, hatching out, and flying around the car by the time I arrived home.
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