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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Notes on Grafting

Introduction

Grafting and budding are horticultural techniques used to join parts from two or more plants so that they appear to grow as a single plant. In grafting, the upper part (scion) of one plant grows on the root system (rootstock) of another plant. In the budding process, a bud is taken from one plant and grown on another.

Although budding is considered a modern art and science, grafting is not new. The practice of grafting can be traced back 4,000 years to ancient China and Mesopotamia. As early as 2,000 years ago, people recognized the incompatibility problems that may occur when grafting olives and other fruiting trees.

Since grafting and budding are asexual or vegetative methods of propagation, the new plant that grows from the scion or bud will be exactly like the plant it came from. These methods of plant reproduction are usually chosen because cuttings from the desired plant root poorly (or not at all). Also, these methods give the plant a certain characteristic of the rootstock - for example, hardiness, drought tolerance, or disease resistance. Since both methods require extensive knowledge of nursery crop species and their compatibility, grafting and budding are two techniques that are usually practiced only by more experienced nursery operators.

Most woody nursery plants can be grafted or budded, but both processes are labor intensive and require a great deal of skill. For these reasons they can be expensive and come with no guarantee of success. The nurseryman must therefore see in them a marked advantage over more convenient propagation techniques to justify the time and cost.

Clones or varieties within a species can usually be grafted or budded interchangeably. For example, Pink Sachet dogwood can be budded or grafted onto White Flowering dogwood rootstock and vice versa. Bradford pear can be grafted or budded onto Callery pear rootstock and vice versa. However, Pink Sachet dogwood cannot be grafted or budded onto Callery pear.

Grafting and budding can be performed only at very specific times when weather conditions and the physiological stage of plant growth are both optimum. The timing depends on the species and the technique used. For example, conditions are usually satisfactory in June for budding peaches, but August and early September are the best months to bud dogwoods. Conversely, flowering pears can be grafted while they are dormant (in December and January) or budded during July and August.

Reasons for Grafting and Budding

Budding and grafting may increase the productivity of certain horticultural crops because they make it possible to do the following things:

Change varieties or cultivars. An older established orchard of fruiting trees may become obsolete as newer varieties or cultivars are developed. The newer varieties may offer improved insect or disease resistance, better drought tolerance, or higher yields. As long as the scion is compatible with the rootstock, the older orchard may be top worked using the improved variety or cultivar.
Optimize cross-pollination and pollination. Certain fruit trees are not self-pollinating; they require pollination by a second fruit tree, usually of another variety. This process is known as cross-pollination. Portions of a tree or entire trees may be pollinated with the second variety to ensure fruit set. For example, some hollies are dioecious, meaning that a given plant has either male or female flowers but not both. To ensure good fruit set on the female (pistillate) plant, a male (staminate) plant must be growing nearby. Where this is not possible, the chances that cross-pollination will occur can be increased by grafting a scion from a male plant onto the female plant.

Take advantage of particular rootstocks. Compared to the selected scion, certain rootstocks have superior growth habits, disease and insect resistance, and drought tolerance. For example, when used as rootstock for commercial apple varieties, the French crabapple (Malus sylvestris, Mill.) can increase resistance to crown gall and hairy root. Malling VIII and Malling IX are used as dwarfing rootstocks for apple trees when full-sized trees are not desired, such as in the home garden.

Benefit from interstocks. An interstock can be particularly valuable when the scion and rootstock are incompatible. In such cases, an interstock that is compatible with both rootstock and scion is used. An interstock could increase the disease resistance or cold hardiness of the scion. Plants also may be double worked to impart dwarfness or influence flowering and fruiting of a scion.

Perpetuate clones. Clones of numerous species of conifers cannot be economically reproduced from vegetative cuttings because the percentage of cuttings that root successfully is low. Many can be grafted, however, onto seedling rootstocks. Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens, Engelm), Koster blue spruce (Picea pungens var. Kosteriana, Henry), and Moerheim spruce (Picea pungens var. Moerheimii, Rujis) are commonly grafted onto Norway spruce (Picea abies, Karst.) or Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis, Carr.) rootstock to perpetuate desirable clones. Numerous clones of Japanese maple (Acer palmatum, Thunb.) that either root poorly or lack an extensive root system are grafted onto seedling Acer palmatum rootstock.

Produce certain plant forms. Numerous horticultural plants owe their beauty to the fact that they are grafted or budded onto a standard, especially those that have a weeping or cascading form. Examples include weeping hemlock (Tsuga canadensi.3, Carr. var. pendula, Beissn.), which is grafted onto seedling hemlock rootstock (Tsuga canadensis, Carr.); weeping flowering cherry (Prunus subhietella var. pendula, Tanaka), which is grafted onto Mazzard cherry rootstock (Prunus avium, L.); and weeping dogwood (Cornus florida, L. var. pendula, Dipp.), which is grafted onto flowering dogwood rootstock (Cornus florida, L.). In most cases, multiple scions are grafted or budded 3 feet or higher on the main stem of the rootstock. When used this way, the rootstock is referred to as a standard. It may require staking for several years until the standard is large enough to support the cascading or weeping top.
Repair damaged plants. Large trees or specimen plants can be damaged easily at or slightly above the soil line. The damage may be caused by maintenance equipment (such as lawn mowers, trenchers, or construction equipment), or by disease, rodents, or winter storms. The damage can often be repaired by planting several seedlings of the same species around the injured tree and grafting them above the injury. This procedure is referred to as inarching, approach grafting, or bridge grafting.

Increase the growth rate of seedlings. The seedling progeny of many fruit and nut breeding programs, if left to develop naturally, may require 8 to 12 years to become fruitful. However, if these progeny are grafted onto established plants, the time required for them to flower and fruit is reduced dramatically. Another way to increase the growth rate of seedlings is to graft more than one seedling onto a mature plant. Using this procedure as a breeding tool saves time, space, and money.
Index viruses. Many plants carry viruses, although the symptoms may not always be obvious or even visible. The presence or absence of the virus in the suspect plant can be confirmed by grafting scions from the plant onto another plant that is highly susceptible and will display prominent symptoms

When to Graft

Unlike budding, which can be performed before or during the growing season, most grafting is done during winter and early spring while both scion and rootstock are still dormant. Containerized plants may be moved indoors during the actual grafting process; after grafting, these plants are placed in protected areas or in unheated overwintering houses. Field-grown stock, of course, must be grafted in place. Some deciduous trees are commonly grafted as bare rootstock during the winter and stored until spring planting. Indoor winter grafting is often referred to as bench grafting because it is accomplished at a bench.

Selecting and Handling Scion Wood

The best quality scion wood usually comes from shoots grown the previous season. Scions should be severed with sharp, clean shears or knives and placed immediately in moistened burlap or plastic bags. It is good practice during the harvesting of scions and the making of grafts to clean the cutting tools regularly. This may be done by flaming or immersing them in a sterilizing solution. Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol also works well as a sterilant, although it evaporates quite readily. An alternative sterilizing solution may be prepared by mixing one part household bleach with nine parts water (by volume). However, this bleach solution can be highly corrosive to certain metals.

For best results, harvest only as much scion wood as can be used for grafting during the same day. Select only healthy scion wood that is free from insect, disease, or winter damage. Be sure the stock plants are of good quality, healthy, and true to type. Scion wood that is frozen at harvest often knits more slowly and in lower percentage. If large quantities of scion wood must be harvested at one time, follow these steps:

Cut all scions to a uniform length, keep their basal ends together, and tie them in bundles of known quantity (for example, 50 scions per bundle).

Label them, recording the cultivar, date of harvest, and location of the stock plant.

Wrap the base of the bundles in moistened burlap or sphagnum, place them in polyethylene or waterproof paper bags, and seal the bags.

Store the bundles for short periods, if necessary, either iced down in insulated coolers or in a commercial storage unit at 32° to 34°F.

Never store scions in refrigerated units where fruits or vegetables are currently kept or have been stored recently. Stored fruits and vegetables release ethylene gas, which can cause woody plant buds to abort, making the scions useless.

Keep the scions from freezing during storage.

NOTE: In grafting, as well as budding, the vascular cambium of the scion or bud must be aligned with the vascular cambium of rootstock. In woody plants the cambium is a very thin ribbon of actively dividing cells located just below the bark. The cambium produces conductive tissue for the actively growing plant. This vascular cambium initiates callus tissue at the graft and bud unions in addition to stimulating tissue growth on the basal ends of many vegetative cuttings before they have rooted.

Types of Grafts
Nurserymen can choose from a number of different types of grafts. This section describes only those basic types of grafts used on nursery crop plants.

Cleft Graft
One of the simplest and most popular forms of grafting, cleft grafting, is a method for top working both flowering and fruiting trees (apples, cherries, pears, and peaches) in order to change varieties. Cleft grafting is also used to propagate varieties of camellias that are difficult to root. This type of grafting is usually done during the winter and early spring while both scion and rootstock are still dormant. Cleft grafting may be performed on main stems or on lateral or scaffold branches.

The rootstock used for cleft grafting should range from 1 to 4 inches in diameter and should be straight grained. The scion should be about 1⁄4-inch in diameter, straight, and long enough to have at least three buds. Scions that are between 6 and 8 inches long are usually the easiest to use.

Preparing the Rootstock. The stock should be sawed off with a clean, smooth cut perpendicular to the main axis of the stem to be grafted. Using a clefting tool wedge and a mallet, make a split or "cleft" through the center of the stock and down 2 to 3 inches. Remove the clefting tool wedge and drive the pick end of the tool into the center of the newly made cleft so that the stock can be held open while inserting the scion.

Preparing the Scion. In cleft grafting, one scion is usually inserted at each end of the cleft, so prepare two scions for each graft. Select scions that have three or four good buds. Using a sharp, clean grafting knife, start near the base of the lowest bud and make two opposing smooth-tapered cuts 1 to 2 inches long toward the basal end of the scion. Cut the side with the lowest bud slightly thicker than the opposite side. Be sure the basal end of the scion gradually tapers off along both sides.

Inserting the Scion. Insert a scion on each end of the cleft, with the wider side of the wedge facing outward. The cambium of each scion should contact the cambium of the rootstock.

Securing the Graft. Remove the clefting tool from the cleft so that the rootstock can close. Pressure from the rootstock will hold the scions in place. Thoroughly seal all cut surfaces with grafting wax or grafting paint to keep out water and prevent drying. If both scions in the cleft "take," one will usually grow more rapidly than the other. After the first growing season, choose the stronger scion and prune out the weaker.

NOTE: The temperature of grafting wax is critical. It must be hot enough to flow but not so hot as to kill plant tissue. Recently, paint-like sealants have replaced wax in many areas because they are easier to use and require no heating.

Bark Graft

Bark grafting is used primarily to top work flowering and fruiting trees. In contrast to cleft grafting, this technique can be applied to rootstock of larger diameter (4 to 12 inches) and is done during early spring when the bark slips easily from the wood but before major sap flow. The rootstock is severed with a sharp saw, leaving a clean cut as with cleft grafting.

Preparing the Stock. Start at the cut surface of the rootstock and make a vertical slit through the bark where each scion can be inserted (2 inches long and spaced 1 inch apart).
Preparing the Scion. Since multiple scions are usually inserted around the cut surface of the rootstock, prepare several scions for each graft. Cut the base of each scion to a 11⁄2- to 2-inch tapered wedge on one side only.

Inserting the Scion. Loosen the bark slightly and insert the scion so that the wedge-shaped tapered surface of the scion is against the exposed wood under the flap of bark. Push the scion firmly down into place behind the flap of bark, replace the bark flap, and nail the scion in place by driving one or two wire brads through the bark and scion into the rootstock. Insert a scion every 3 to 4 inches around the cut perimeter of the rootstock.

Securing the Graft. Seal all exposed surfaces with grafting wax or grafting paint. Once the scions have begun to grow, leave only the most vigorous one on each stub; prune out all the others. Bark grafts tend to form weak unions and therefore usually require staking or support during the first few years.

Side-Veneer Graft

At one time the side-veneer graft was a popular technique for grafting varieties of camellias and rhododendrons that are difficult to root. Currently, it is the most popular way to graft conifers, especially those having a compact or dwarf form. Side-veneer grafting is usually done on potted rootstock.

Preparing the Stock. Rootstock is grown in pots the season before grafting, allowed to go dormant, and then stored as with other container nursery stock. After exposure to cold weather for at least six weeks, the rootstock is brought into a cool greenhouse for a few days before grafting takes place to encourage renewed root growth. The plant should not be watered at this time.

Make a shallow downward cut about 3⁄4-inch to 1 inch long at the base of the stem on the potted rootstock to expose a flap of bark with some wood still attached. Make an inward cut at the base so that the flap of bark and wood can be removed from the rootstock.

Preparing the Scion

Choose a scion with a diameter the same as or slightly smaller than the rootstock. Make a sloping cut 3⁄4-inch to 1 inch long at the base of the scion. (Use the bark grafting technique shown in.
Inserting the Scion. Insert the cut surface of the scion against the cut surface of the rootstock. Be certain that the cambia contact each other.

Securing the Graft. Hold the scion in place using a rubber grafting strip, tape, or grafting twine. Seal the entire graft area with warm grafting wax or grafting paint. Remove the rubber or twine shortly after the union has healed. Never allow the binding material to girdle the stem.

Splice Graft

Splice grafting is used to join a scion onto the stem of a rootstock or onto an intact rootpiece. This simple method is usually applied to herbaceous materials that callus or "knit" easily, or it is used on plants with a stem diameter of 1⁄2-inch or less. In splice grafting, both the stock and scion must be of the same diameter.

Preparing the Stock and Scion. Cut off the rootstock using a diagonal cut 3⁄4-inch to 1 inch long. Make the same type of cut at the base of the scion.

Inserting the Scion. Fit the scion to the stock. Wrap this junction securely with a rubber grafting strip or twine.

Securing the Graft. Seal the junction with grafting wax or grafting paint. Water rootstock sparingly until the graft knits. Over watering may cause sap to "drown" the scion. Be sure to remove the twine or strip as soon as the graft has healed.

Whip and Tongue Graft

The whip and tongue technique is most commonly used to graft nursery crops or woody ornamentals. Both the rootstock and scion should be of equal size and preferably no more than 1⁄2-inch in diameter. The technique is similar to splice grafting except that the whip on the rootstock holds the tongue of the scion in place (and vice versa). This leaves both hands free to wrap the joint.

For the whip and tongue graft, make similar cuts on both the stock and scion. These cuts should be made with a single draw of the knife and should have a smooth surface so that the two can develop a good graft union. Up to this point, rootstock and scion are cut the same as for a splice graft.

Preparing the Stock and Scion. Cut off the stock using a diagonal cut. The cut should be four to five times longer than the diameter of the stock to be grafted. Make the same kind of cut at the base of the scion.

Next, place the blade of the knife across the cut end of the stock, halfway between the bark and pith (on the upper part of the cut surface). Use a single knife stroke to draw the blade down at an angle through the wood and pith. Stop at the base of the initial diagonal cut. This second cut must not follow the grain of the wood but should run parallel to the first cut.

Inserting the Scion. Prepare the scion in the same way. Fit the scion into the rootstock so that they interlock whip and tongue. Be certain that the cambia are aligned.

Securing the Graft. Wrap the junction with a grafting strip or twine, and seal it with grafting wax or grafting paint. Never allow the binding material to girdle the stem.

Saddle Graft

Saddle grafting is a relatively easy technique to learn and once mastered can be performed quite rapidly. The stock may be either field-grown or potted. Both rootstock and scion should be the same diameter. For best results, use saddle grafting on dormant stock in mid- to late winter. Stock should not be more than 1 inch in diameter.

Preparing the Stock. Using two opposing upward strokes of the grafting knife, sever the top from the rootstock. The resulting cut should resemble an inverted V, with the surface of the cuts ranging from 1⁄2-inch to 1 inch long.

Preparing the Scion. Now reverse the technique to prepare the base of the scion. These cuts on the rootstock and scion must be the same length and have the same slope so that a maximum amount of cambial tissue will make contact when the two halves are joined.

Inserting the Scion. Place the V-notched scion onto the saddle of the rootstock. If rootstock and scion are the same diameter, cambial alignment is easier; otherwise adjust as needed.

Securing the Graft. Wrap the graft with a grafting twine, tape, or strip, then seal it with grafting wax or grafting paint.

All of the preceding techniques are used to top work horticultural crops for a particular purpose. Occasionally, however, grafting is used to repair injured or diseased plants. Two common techniques available for this purpose are bridge grafting and inarch grafting.

Bridge Graft

Bridge grafting is used to "bridge" a diseased or damaged area of a plant, usually at or near the base of the trunk. Such damage commonly results from contact with grading or lawn maintenance equipment, or it may be caused by rodents, cold temperatures, or disease organisms. The bridge graft provides support as well as a pipeline that allows water and nutrients to move across the damaged area.

Bridge grafts are usually done in early spring just before active plant growth begins. They may be performed any time the bark on the injured plant "slips."

Preparing the Scion. Select scions that are straight and about twice as long as the damaged area to be bridged. Make a 11⁄2- to 2-inch-long tapered cut on the same plane at each end of the scion.

Preparing the Stock. Remove any damaged tissue so the graft is on healthy stems. Cut a flap in the bark on the rootstock the same width as the scion and below the injury to be repaired. Gently fold the flap away from the stock, being careful not to tear the bark flap.

Inserting the Scion. First, insert and secure the scion below the injury; push the scion under the flap with the cut portion of the scion against the wood of the injured stem or trunk. Then go back and insert and secure the scion above the injury following these same steps. Push the scion firmly into place. Pull the flap over the scion and tack it into place as described for bark grafting.
When grafting with young stems that may waver in the wind, insert the scions so that they bow outward slightly. Bridge grafts should be spaced about 3 to 4 inches apart across the damaged area.

Securing the Graft. Secure all graft areas with warm grafting wax or grafting paint. During and after the healing period, remove any buds or shoots that develop on the scions.

Inarch Graft

Inarching, like bridge grafting, is used to bypass or support a damaged or weakened area of a plant stem. Unlike bridge grafting, the scion can be an existing shoot, sucker, or watersprout that is already growing below and extending above the injury. The scion may also be a shoot of the same species as the injured plant growing on its own root system next to the main trunk of the damaged tree. With the inarching technique, the tip of the scion is grafted in above the injury using the same method as for bark or bridge grafting.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A First Graft





Grafting is probably considered the most “mystical” of arts in that area known as “horticulture” as practiced by the gardening public. It is not mystical any more than sunrise and sunset is, but if you don't know the basics, it can be forbidding. Know the rules and it's just as common as a sunrise, don't learn the rules and you are lost.

Soon, I'll write out the story of how I came to be totally in awe of grafters and the event that changed my approach to garden science. In this small intro, I will introduce the basics of grafting as simply and straight forward as I can. 



The absolute first thing to say about grafting is that you are working with really, really sharp knives.  Your first priority must be safety - afterall, you will be using YOUR fingers and these knives are sharp.  Have bandaids - at minimum, if not a well stocked first aid kit. ALL grafters I know, except those that ride motorcycles really (REALLY) fast, have at least some kind of first aid material in the same bag as their knives. Pay attention.  Ask those around you to not talk to you while you are grafting.  Do not graft while on the phone.  Do not graft while driving.  Give that knife and where it is pointed your full attention - all the time that blade is exposed. If it's sharp enough to graft, it's sharp enough to cut into you all the way to the bone.  I've done it. It doesn't hurt until it hits the bone and then it hurts for a very long time. Never point the sharp end of the blade towards any part of your body - especially your left thumb - that's the one that gets nailed the most.  Please! And thank you!



These are grafting knives;  the bottom wood handled knife is a Tina bench grafting knife - it doesn't fold and cannot
carried with ease in a pocket, the next knife up is a Swiss Army in my favorite blade style (identical blade to the one above it), the next knife is usually considered best for budding.  The one on farthest right is just another grafting blade. The knife at
the top is my favorite - "new old stock" from eBay. I love the feel of this knife and use it for most of my work. It is resting on a roll of half inch Parafilm.

You need;
A very sharp knife
Two pieces of wood (described below)
And something to hold them together

Your sharp knife does not have to be a grafting knife, although if you intend to graft as an ongoing project, you will find a grafting knife increases your chances of a good graft. Some grafters simply use those utility box cutters and break off the old blades instead of having to sharpen the blades. I found that a difficult tool to handle – but then again, I am pleased with my grafting knives and enjoy using different ones on different days, but that's me and my obsessive/compulsive personality.

But your knife must be SHARP. Even to the point of stopping every several cuts and honing it a little more.

The “Something to hold them together” has really improved in the last few years. In the past grafters have used plastic bags, electrical tape, duct tape (omigaud!) and tar. Today we have “Parafilm” and without it, I would not be a very good grafter. This stuff (can be found on eBay and Amazon as well as other sites – I even have a few rolls to sell pretty much all the time as I buy in bulk for my class). It is not expensive. As you pull on it, to wrap your graft, the Parafilm becomes more pliable and will actually begin to seal to itself with just a little pressure. When firmly wrapped, in all but the most difficult of grafts, Parafilm will hold your graft together. Certainly as a beginner, you would not normally be undertaking grafts that were above the cohesion of Parafilm to hold it together.

The “two pieces of wood” is what makes this all interesting. If this is your first shot at grafting, I would strongly urge you to graft apples – the apple tree wood is easy to work with and the chance of success is strong. Citrus is one of the worst as it is really hard wood and difficult to shape. Get some miles under your knife and then tackle citrus.



This shot, while of a rose, shows the ring around the stem that is called the Cambium. It is the living tissue of woody plants  and this tissue on your rootstock must be touching the scion's cambium. That is the thrust of grafting.

One piece of wood is a “scion” while the other piece of wood is “rootstock.” The scion possesses the fruit you want to grow on the rootstock. The rootstock is the rest of the tree that is not this scion. You can graft five apples to one tree. All the pieces you graft to the tree are 'scions.' That which holds them from falling to the ground is the 'rootstock.' In the case of the apples, the scion is collected because we want that apple's taste or usability; an eating apple or a cider apple, one that bears in late Spring and another the blooms in late Summer – whatever characteristics you feel you want in an apple.

The rootstock can be an existing tree on your property or you can order rootstock from some regional nurseries – they are not expensive. One chooses rootstock on it's qualities – some rootstocks withstand disease or wind or drought or dwarf your tree by a given percent. In Southern California most experienced apple growers would choose M111. I order my rootstock (sometimes referred to as “wood” in a generic way) from Raintree Nursery. They have always been reliable and prompt.

Now we get to make our cuts. The scion wood should be about the diameter of a pencil and the part of the rootstock you are going to attach the scion to should be about the same diameter – it need not be exact, but the closer it is the better.

This shot, while of a rose, shows the ring around the stem that is called the Cambium. It is the living tissue of woody plants that is alive and this tissue on your rootstock must be touching to the scion. That is the thrust of grafting.

Patience my be called a 'virtue' for most of mankind, but for a grafter it is essential.” The quote originally said “gardeners” but it is more than applicable to grafters. It's my quote, I can do with it what I please.

Before I let my students actually graft a plant in class, we find some wood from an apple tree and we work on it, making straight cuts – which are useful, if not essential – for eventual grafting. You will want to be able to control the knife in making a clean, straight and even cut. It must be straight up and down, no bows or bumps, and straight across, no twists or turns, and it must be the correct length in total.

Once you have found a piece of apple wood – or other deciduous fruit, but I use apple because I have it and it is probably the easiest and your knife is sharp, its time to begin your practice. We are going to work with a simple Cleft graft. The down end of the scion is cut to a “V” shape and the rootstock is simply slit down the middle. I actually prefer to switch these roles where the rootstock holds the “V” shape and the scion is split down the middle. The feeling I have is that the “V” on the bottom might collect moisture and rot at some point down the road, but there are many enthusiasts that will say “that's never happened to me!” So which is what, can be a matter of preference. If “simple” is your only criteria, then the “V” should be on the scion.

Cutting the “V” is important and presently you will see how many ways it can be screwed up. You would like to make it with as few strokes of the knife as possible – two strokes is perfect – but three is not uncommon. You want to avoid the “whittling” of the wood if at all possible. Once you have sliced off one portion, a lot of what has been written above will make more tangible sense that it did before.

You want a piece of wood that has a very fine point on it with both sides cut straight – no dips and/or turns in the blade as it goes through. This is harder than it sounds. Resist the urge – you will feel it – to turn the scion around, using the thumb on your right hand to brace the knife cutting the wood! I know the knife appears stuck, but when it comes unstuck, it will slice right through the wood and on into your thumb. Keep the knife blade pointed away from yourself and gently rock it back and forth. Presently it will become unstuck and you can finish the cut bloodlessly.

Practice this cut as many times as needed to build confidence with your ability to handle the knife. It is normal to have to sharpen your knife mid-project as needed. You will want the “V” to be a very sharp angle. Making the slice in the opposite piece to this equation, is very straight forward: as near to the center, simply rock your knife to make a straight cut about as long as your “V” on the other piece of wood.

Before you begin to put them together, begin to wrap the rootstock with the Parafilm. Pull the Parafilm tight as you wrap, stretching it out and binding it to itself until you reach the beginning of the nascent graft. Place the the two wood pieces together. Inspect for cambium to cambium connection – this is the essential part of the graft. Wherever the cambium of these two pieces meet is the beginning of your new tree. If they don't meet, you have wasted your time and the tree's resources. Once you are certain you have the most cambium meeting you can, hold that graft very tightly while you finish wrapping the Parafilm over the graft. You can simply pull hard on the Parafilm and it will break where you end.

If the tip of your scion was cut, you should also wrap that in Parafilm. Remember, loss of water and cambium not matching are the two major causes of graft failure. Parafilm is relatively cheap, so use more than less!

Your graft, if done properly, will show signs of taking in 3 to 4 weeks, sometimes more, occasionally less. The weather has a lot to do with it. If you failed, don't worry. You've just joined the very large majority of grafters that have failed once or twice. Or more. Mostly “or more.” Whether or not your graft takes, make sure you examine the whole process and evaluate how well you were prepared and what parts of your technique needs refinement and work with yourself to improve your chances.

And know that every year, you must revisit these skills anew. I usually set aside a couple of one hour slots for a few weeks before grafting to get my skills into top shape.

Remember to remind yourself that grafting, while a science, is also an art. Some are gifted grafters, while the rest of us must work at it. But practice does make perfect.

This is your first graft to learn – there are more. I'll be doing an informal series on grafting over the next few months. Stay tuned and if you don't understand something – ask questions! I'll answer them for everyone's benefit.

david

NB. Look for this to be updated in a few days with photographs to make it more clear.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Lecture 1 Notes



1
Lecture: Introduction – roll, Extension policy, meeting time and place, attendance and tardiness, tools etc. Tour Garden. Tool selection, care and safety. Sexual and asexual propagation defined. Introduction to the different propagation. Botany as applied to propagation. Planting mediums.
Demonstration: Cutting scions for the exchange
Practical: Harvesting scionwood.


  1. Roll call -
  2. Extension re. Interlopers
  3. SAFETY
  4. Food/drink
  5. Attendance/tardiness
  6. Blog site: http://lagardennotes.blogspot.com/
  7. Books/Assigned reading (Bryant; Home Orchard & Garner)
  8. Tools and tool selection
  9. Waltz thru the syllabus (most of this is answered in the syllabus)

Some Notes on Sexual and Asexual Propagation

Sexual propagation involves the use of seeds. Pollination and methods of pollination.

Asexual propagation is any other way you can get ‘baby’ plants. Under this broad generalization, we include: dividing bulbs, cuttings, air layering, and division.
To do these things, you need a spade (with a sharp edge), some knives, pruners, potting mix, a watering device, and, preferably some kind of root stimulant.

By DIVISION

Most herbaceous perennials are easy to propagate by some form of division. Some common ones we can try in the Garden include:
Artichokes
Rhubarb
All chrysanthemums (including Shasta Daisy)
Cacti and succulents

You may divide or attempt to propagate almost any plant in the Garden AFTER CHECKING WITH ME. If you divide an artichoke, rhubarb or any of the succulents, I want to be with you.
  1. Planting mediums
  2. Botany

The two vascular plant systems are:
Xylem
Phloem (Cambium)  

Xylem may be characterized as wood and mostly dead cells – they perform their function in the plant when they are dead.

We can generally describe the function of xylem as moving nutrients and water UP from the roots. In other words, we can simplify xylem as being a kind of plumbing system with dead cells amalgamated together becoming pipes for an upward flow from the roots.

Phloem on the other hand is living tissue distributing the products of photosynthesis throughout the plant - much more than a simple "down" movement.

Cuttings:
asexual propagation
cuttings
Laser in on Cuttings: (Bryant, 92-100 – caution: he gets a little too noodgy and thinks everyone has access to greenhouses and misting systems)
Ideal wood for cutting
Pencil thick
semi-ripe wood – cover three different grades of wood – soft, semi-ripe and ripe

FOR CLASS:
  1. Syllabus and copies
  2. Checklist and copies

  3. Books: The Home Orchard; The Grafter's Handbook; Plant Propagation A to Z; and The Home Orchard
  4. Pruners and knives
  5. Ideal semi-ripe cutting
  6. Pot of stuck cuttings

david


Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Grater's Handbook

I've just learned that one of our required books is, in fact, out of print.  Therefore, it is absolutely acceptable to purchase the edition before the one I have. 

This is the blue cover from the 2003 edition. 

I have found many used copies of this edition under $40.  The page numbers are almost identical and I used the blue one for many years.  

I am not familiar with the edition below, it was the edition (1993) before the blue one - I'm sure it has good stuff in it, just not sure of the order and and if it has all the good stuff I want.




There are several copies of this edition at eBay for reasonable amounts.   I will accept your use of either of these and no more assigned reading will come from this book if students cannot get it!


Sorry for the hassle.

david

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Plant Propagation Syllabus Winter 2018

COURSE SYLLABUS

Please note that this syllabus may be changed as the quarter progresses.  We are working with live plants and we have to adapt to them to achieve our goals. Thank you for understanding and your patience.

Instructor: David King
Email: greenteach@gmail.com
Phone: 310.722.3656

There are no prerequisites for this course, although some knowledge of basic botany is extremely helpful. We meet on Sundays from January 11 through March 29 for 10 meetings, nine on Sunday and one Saturday field trip.
In our field trip we will attend the WLA chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers meeting on February 11th, from 10:00 to noon. This is the day of their annual ‘Scion Exchange’ and is not to be missed if you can help it. There is no other forum in Los Angeles that offers a better introduction to grafting!
All other meetings are on Sunday 1:30 to 4:30 PM to The Learning Garden, at the Venice High School campus. This site is close to the ocean and because we meet outside or in a poorly heated classroom, please dress appropriate to the weather, which is invariably colder than one would imagine. We will do what we can to mitigate the cold and rain, should it come, but the material of the class is best covered with live plant material in the garden – which, of course, is outside.
We will also be working with potting soils and cut plant material in almost every single class, gloves will probably be desired. Dress so that you can comfortably get dirty and still stay dry. Dressing in layers is probably the best idea when it comes to being outdoors at The Learning Garden.

Course Purpose

This course is an introduction to the principles and practice of plant propagation, both sexual and asexual, and the science and art of grafting and budding.

Course Objectives

  1. Understand the care and safe use of tools in plant propagation.
  2. Understand the biology of sexual and asexual propagation of plants.
  3. Understand and use the different styles of propagation of plants.
  4. Be able to create or craft and use a plant propagation system.
  5. Demonstrate an understanding of the above by propagating different species of plants.
  6. Understand the physiology of plants sufficiently to be able to successfully bud and graft a variety of plants.

Application

The materials presented in this course will enable the student to start plants from seeds and cuttings, in an amateur or professional setting and graft woody plants with a working understanding of the scientific underpinnings of the process. While we are working mostly with food plants, these techniques cross easily to ornamental plants.

Texts for this course

Plant Propagation A to Z – Bryant; Firefly Books, 2003 It is readily available online. This is onlyl one of many texts that are useful references for all kinds of plants. You may choose a different reference that suits you, they are all about the same.
The Grafter's Handbook – Garner; Chelsea Green Publishing, 2013, is the current edition. It has been and still is the most authoritative book on propagation in or out of print. This book is a wonderful reference book for someone involved in grafting. Unlike the modern books that only show a few grafts, this one shows grafts for all kinds of plant work and as such, is essential for one who wishes to make this work a part of a skill set.
The Home Orchard – UC Press, Agriculture and Natural Resources Publication 3485, 2007 – While primarily a growing guide to deciduous fruit and nut trees, pages 101 to 122 cover budding and grafting. It does not go deep but the photos and hand drawings are excellent (as they are throughout the book) and this is a clear introduction to the art. If you intend to have a home orchard, this is the book for Californians.
There will be additional handouts from the instructor. There will be assigned reading.
All material for in class will be available online at http://lagardennotes.blogspot.com/. Additionally, I invite all of you to join the group, Greener Gardens, on Facebook. Handouts are put there as well, and students use the group to contact one another – I also post other items of interest for you. I try to not have handouts in class to avoid wasting paper printing handouts you may not care to keep and I will occasionally link to internet site allowing the use of videos (especially of grafting) you may find helpful.

Class Meetings

To each class meeting, in addition to any note-taking tools you deem necessary (paper, camera, tape recorder etc), each student should bring propagation tools that will be described in our first class meeting; please don't purchase a lot of stuff until then. You will need pruners, a grafting knife, a regular pocket knife (or one knife with two blades for different purposes), a black, permanent Sharpie, a sharp pencil and a sturdy pair of gloves – leather preferred. If you are unsure of what to buy, buy NOTHING until after the first class meeting – we will not be using most of these items until later.

Grading

Your grade in this class is based on a checklist you will keep and one or two short exams. You need to be able to perform each of the tasks on the log with sufficient skill and understanding of the process in order to receive a passing grade in this course. The completed checklist must be turned in the last day of class unless other arrangements have been made before hand with the instructor. I reserve the right to administer quizzes throughout the course to insure comprehension. They will count in your participation score.

Instructor’s Office Hours

Please avail yourself of my willingness to meet with you at any time to discuss your progress in the course or to clarify instructional material or to answer any difficulties you are having. My preference is to meet with you at my office at The Learning Garden where we can cover material without distraction but I am willing to meet with students anytime, anywhere to assist you in learning; after all, that is the point your taking the class and my teaching it. It is my wish that all students learn and are profited by their enrollment in this course. Do not struggle; I am here to help.

At The Learning Garden:

THE FIRST AID KIT IS LOCATED DIRECTLY ON THE LEFT OF THE FRONT DOOR AS YOU ENTER my office

Remember its location.
I’m very serious... So far only three students have had to have emergency medical treatment. I don't like adding to that number. It's hard enough to get students without killing them off.

A garden is filled with uneven surfaces, rocks, plants with thorns and other armaments and an infinity of possibilities for injury; most of the time in this course we will be using very sharp tools which deserve your utmost attention at all times, please give due attention and consideration of this. Remain on pathways and do not walk into planted beds unless it is absolutely necessary. Do not pick anything without permission.

Food and drink are allowed, but the removal of any trash or waste is entirely incumbent on the eator and/or drinkor. I will hold you responsible.

We will probably have hot tea and coffee to mitigate the cool weather we anticipate needing to endure. Bring your own cup or mug and any eating utensils you feel you need. I drink it black – if you want sugar or cream, it's on you.

Appropriate clothing is essential. Remember, Venice can be hot and cold by turns. Layering is suggested; a jacket or sweater close at hand is essential, pay attention to the forecast, but remember, this close to the ocean, we are usually 10ยบ cooler. We will meet regardless of weather. If it is a light rain/mist, we will continue work. If it is a gully-washer (as though we get those in Southern California), we will meet in the classroom and carry on.

Point Assignment

For Credit Students. It is more important to me that you learn the material above all other considerations. I will endeavor through point assignment, lecture and demonstration to teach you in a way that will facilitate learning the material. If you aren’t understanding, please allow me to help you. Tools You Will Need
Each student should provide:

Pair of pruners – secateur type, like Felco #2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12 or 13. No anvil pruners allowed EXCEPT for those students with hand pain or arthritis that must use the ratcheting type of pruners. Felcos can be bought on the internet (eBay) for much less than most local sources; I am also a Felco distributor and carry several models at a very competitive price. Coronas and other secateur pruners are OK, although if you have ever used Felcos, you can appreciate why I am so fond of them.

Pruning knife – only used for plants. It is suggested that everyone also have a second knife for all the other needs in a garden. If one does not plan on doing a great deal of propagation needing a sharp knife, an inexpensive knife with break-away blades available from many local stores may be used. Grafting knives and horticultural knives are also found for reasonable amounts on eBay and other internet connections; I also have a selection of inexpensive pruning knives from Swiss Army. No one should feel pressured to buy my items – I only have them because they can be hard to find locally and often all you can find are the really expensive Felcos which you don't need.

A utility knife – for all other cutting needs.

Pair of gloves – leather is preferred, some folks like to have more than one.

Sharpie – fine point, only black will not wash off

Pencil sharp, wooden (the Learning Garden does have a sharpener)

You will need to take notes, so paper is necessary – may I suggest you take notes in pencil because it won’t run if it gets wet and a pencil is a small dibber in a pinch.

The Garden (or instructor) will provide as needed:
Cactus mix and potting soils
Watering devices
Pots
Root stimulating gel
Other tools and supplies as needed
Oil, sharpening devices, cleaners and rags for pruner and knife maintenance
Alcohol wipes, Listerine and hand soap.
Plant material/seeds
First aid kit
Plant markers


PLEASE NOTE:  TWO DATES IN FEBRUARY WERE INCORRECT IN MY ORIGINAL SYLLABUS - 
they are changed here....
Date
Mtg.
TOPIC
01/21/18
1
Lecture: Introduction – roll, Extension policy, meeting time and place, attendance and tardiness, tools etc. Tour Garden. Tool selection, care and safety. Sexual and asexual propagation defined. Introduction to the different arts of propagation. Botany as applied to propagation.
Demonstration: Cutting scions for the exchange
Practical: Harvesting scionwood
01/28/18
2
Lecture: Meristematic tissue and the principles of propagation by cuttings; Pages 92-113; soil mixes for propagation; knives and tools, care of etc
Demonstration: Different kinds of cuttings
Practical: Making cuttings - Lycium chinensis
02/04/18
3
Lecture: General Propagation Methods and Application; Pages 47-91; pests and diseases and methodology to deal.
Demonstration: Division of perennials
Practical: Dividing perennial plants
TEST: Primarily on Cuttings and Safety *
02/10/18
4
Field Trip to California Rare Fruit Growers
>>> NOT TO BE MISSED <<< your Valentine will forgive you....
02/11/18
5
Lecture: Seeds, structure, germination and viability, collection, storage. Propagation, pages 47-74; seed starting problems and their solution.
Demonstration: Scarification/Seed sowing
Practical: Sowing seeds of different sizes
02/18/18
6
Lecture: Grafting
Demonstration: Grafting
Practical: Practice Grafting
02/25/18
7
Lecture: Budding
Demonstration: Budding
Practical: Grafting
03/04/18
8
Lecture: California Native Propagation
Demonstration: Fire scarification of a California native
Practical: Transplanting seedlings
03/11/18
9
Lecture: Propagating ornamentals; Katarina Ericksen
Demonstration: Ornamental propagation
Practical: Propagating something unusual.
03/18/18
10
Lecture: Uses and Varieties of Grafting
Demonstration: Air Layering
Practical: Air Layering
TEST: Grafting Principles and Seeds
03/25/18
11
Field Trip: TBD

Our Class Meeting Locations


The Learning Garden

13000 Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066
310.722.3656 (my cell)
The Garden is located on the south east corner of Walgrove Avenue and Venice Blvd. It is the first gate on Walgrove south of Venice – there is a small amount of parking inside the gate, there is no other secured parking, other than those few spaces, you are on the street and on your own. DO NOT PARK ON THE CAMPUS PROPER. If parking on the street is onerous for you (i.e. you have a cane etc) see me.

California Rare Fruit Growers, West Los Angeles Chapter

Scion Exchange meeting on February 11 10:00 AM, Veteran's Community Building, Overland Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232

Tool Suppliers: Search online at eBay and other buying services, but the following companies, in addition to myself, reliably have the tools you need and prices that are competitive.
A.M. Leonard (AKA The Gardeners Edge) www.gardenersedge.com They have everything and they make good house brands of knives and pruners. Frost Proof Garden Supply www.frostproof.com A good source for many common garden tools including pruners and grafting knives and associated supplies. Peaceful Valley Farm Supply www.groworganic.com Felco and Corona pruners, inexpensive Swiss Army grafting knives. A good choice.
Scoring For Grading in This Class Grading is as follows:

Class Participation
30.00%

A
100-90
In class exams
20.00%
B
90-80
Checklist
50.00%
C
80 and <80 p="">
TOTAL
100.00%



If you forget your pruners or knife, I do have a few of each, and while I do have gloves, a pair that fits your hand is preferred (and a pair of gloves are somewhat personal too). I can sharpen your pruners and knives and we will learn how in this course.

* Please note: ALL students take any test or quiz even the not-for-credit students, I want to gauge your learning/my effectiveness in teaching this material. The same is true of pop-quizzes when given.
Contents of this site, text and photography, are copyrighted 2009 through 2017 by David King - permission to use must be requested and given in writing.