Second attempt at apple grafting

The prospect of grafting one apple variety onto another is appealing for a number of reasons.First, if you’re successful you can get multiple apple varieties from one tree, which in and of itself is pretty cool, second by virtue of the first you have the advantage of saving space. You don’t need to plant as many trees. Just graft away to your hearts content and have as many varieties of apples as you want.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’d barely consider myself and amateur grafter. My first attempt about 2 years ago wasn’t successful.

While I had done some research, I was just too anxious to do something and in doing so made some rookie mistakes. Here they are.

  • Don’t graft in the winter. Grafting should really take place during the spring when the tree is growing.
  • Shorten up the scion (grafting wood), you really only need to have a couple of buds on the scion (grafting wood) for it to work. The longer the scion the more chance there is for it to dry out.
  • Make sure the surfaces of the graft are flush and the graft is wrapped tight and sealed. I used the whip and tongue grafting method pictured below because it seemed the easiest to me.
  • It’s best to work with trees that have a similar blossoming time, although in my case I did not.

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There are lots of places where you can exchange or get different kinds of scion wood. I got mine from someone on the growingfruit.org site. I won’t bore you with the details, you can find tons of information out there. A great source besides growingfruit.org is Steven Edholm’s site, skillcult.com. Steven is a master at grafting and has numerous videos on the subject.

I grafted about 5 pieces of Roxbury onto to my various trees (3/15). Here are a few pictures of the final result. My grafts are wrapped with electrical tape and then sealed up with Tanglefoot pruning sealer. Word of advice, if you use this stuff wear gloves.IMG_20170323_173002946-4008x2255-4008x2255.jpg

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I’m not expecting all of the grafts to make it. If it’s only one or two I’ll be thrilled. At this point the grafts have been in place for about 2 weeks and (knock wood) don’t show any signs of drying out. Let’s hope the trend continues.

Happy gardening!

 

 

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I’ve got apples – Dorsett Golden

This is pretty exciting. I’m feeling confident that we might actually get some apples this year from the Dorsett Golden. It’s the oldest apple tree in my “orchard”, kind of by default because none of the others survived. Checked my notes and I’ve lost at least 4 or 5 other trees over the course of the last two years.

Anyway, it’s just a healthy vigorous tree with lots of new growth and fuit (hopefully the squirrels won’t notice). You can see the shape of the tiny apples in the second picture. The Dorsett will fruit without a pollinator, but it does better with one. Unfortunately, none of my other trees are flowering at this time. The result is usually a lower yield and the fruit will kind of be an oblong shape, but that won’t affect the flavor. I’ll probably wind up thinning these out to just a couple per cluster so the fruit will get larger, but I’m still deciding. Will post up more pictures as the fruit continues to grow..

Happy gardening!

 

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Spring is here and so are the bees

Time for an update..I’ve been away for a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy around the yard. Since spring is here and stuff is busting out all over, I’ll be posting up pictures of some of the changes I’ve made to the home orchard..Had a few failures, added some new trees and even tried my hand again at grafting.

Got a new phone that takes much better pictures was able to get some nice close ups of the bees at work. I’ve noticed a lot more bee activity than in previous years, so I’m taking that as a good sign.

Anyway, for the two or three of you who follow this blog hopefully you’ll enjoy the return of my gardening adventures. Thanks for reading!

 

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Bee on Meyer lemon blossom

It’s summer and I’m taking a break

I’ve been on a pretty long hiatus. Between a cruise to Alaska and very shortly another trip to Colorado, there hasn’t been a lot of time to do much gardening. Which leads me to the main topic of this post. Travelling and gardening don’t go well together, especially in the summer. Even with irrigation being away for anything more than a couple of days can lead to trouble. Say there’s a problem with your irrigation system, or you have an issue with pests that unexpectedly pops up. There’s no virtual gardener, at least not that I’m aware that will step in to help. Hmm, maybe I just hit on a new business idea.

Anyway, I’m leaving the garden “fallow”  for the time being and will look to replant closer to fall when the weather cools off a bit, focusing my efforts on plants that I’ve previously had luck with.

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On another note, I’m happy to report that most of the fruit trees are doing well. Will put some pictures up in another post. Didn’t get any apples this year and something happened with the pears only one blossomed, but overall they look good. One lesson I’ve learned is that over-watering can be worse than not getting enough water. Can’t remember the last time I watered the trees, probably a couple of weeks. Now we have had rain but not that much, but I’m going to continue to hold off on the supplemental irrigation unless they completely dry out. My theory is the roots will have to work harder to look for water and that will make them more drought tolerant. I have no scientific evidence to back it up, only my observations.

That’s all for now.

Stay cool and happy gardening.

The amazing ladybug

I’ve always liked ladybugs, with their shiny red shells and the way they’ll land on your hand and crawl around. Also seem to remember something about them being good luck (I’m pretty superstitious) and when it comes to gardening I’ll take all the luck I can get.

Their scientific name is Coccinellidae, based on the Latin word for scarlet, makes sense since they red. Originally known in Britain the lady bird, or lady beetle they held some sort of religious symbology related to the Virgin Mary. In very early paintings she’s pictured wearing a red cloak.

Around the world, ladybugs are very much a useful insect. If you notice them in your garden or in any of your trees its a safe bet they have a food source, and more than likely its an agricultural pest such as aphids. In the wild they can live up to 2 to 3 years and will lay their eggs in the colonies of aphids and when they hatch they immediately begin to feed. It’s a good thing too because aphids can quickly cover a tree.

The ladybugs below were spotted in one of my Anna apple trees shortly after I noticed the aphid infestation. First there were two, then I noticed a total of 4, feasting away on the aphids and laying more eggs. Within a span of about 2 weeks they had nearly cleaned out all of the aphids. They’re a pretty voracious critter.

 

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Moral of the story, not all insects are harmful to your plants and nature has a way of taking care of itself. Even if I used some type of insecticide which I like to avoid, these little guys did all the work without the chemicals and they work for free. Can’t beat that.

Happy gardening.

Fruit on the pear tree

These fruit buds popped out a couple of weeks ago on one of my pear trees. Honestly, I’m not sure which tree it is. Could be the Kieffer, but who knows. The pear trees have been in the ground for almost two years and this is first time I’ve seen fruit even though this one had blossomed last year. Haven’t done anything special, other than a little fertilizer and no supplemental watering unless they get really dry.

There are about 1/2 dozen of these tiny pears. Will be curious to see if they make it.

Happy gardening.

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All the fruit trees are growing

Got a little ahead of myself in that last post. While spring had sprung, it was still only in the very early stages. That all changed in the last week or two and now everything is coming to life.

As a result, I’m happy to report that all of the fruit trees (knock wood) are alive and well.

If you haven’t had the joy of smelling a citrus tree in full bloom, you don’t know what you’re missing. Here is the Meyer lemon, with tons of blossoms. Should get a decent crop this year.

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Next is the Valencia orange, no blossoms yet, but lots of new growth.

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Apple blossoms on the Dorsett Golden

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Buds breaking through on one of the pear trees. It’s really cool checking the buds every day and watching them push out little by little.

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Last, here is one of the potted peach/nectarine seedlings from last year. The ones in the ground haven’t sprouted yet, but this guy has some new growth on him..

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Every year mother nature throws us curve balls with the weather, so you never know what’s going to bloom or when, and you’ll drive yourself crazy if you try to follow the calendar. In the immortal words of Axl Rose, “all we need is just a little patience…” That’s all for now. Happy gardening.

Spring has Sprung

Yes, I’ve been a terrible blogger, and while I haven’t posted in a while (ok, 4 months), that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. The winter pretty much put a damper on things. Tried to do a few things with the garden, and only had luck with lettuce. How boring.

I’m going to redouble my efforts this year and try to do a bit more by focusing on some crops that will grow well in this climate. Thinking more along the lines of sweet potatoes,  and maybe one or two other things. There is a really good book out called Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening, written by a gentleman by the name of David the Good who happens to be an expert on the topic, and he’s not just one of those armchair authors. Everything he writes about has been put into practice at his own home.

Now that I have fruit trees, spring has become one of my favorite times of the year. In Florida that transition between winter and summer is brief, we really don’t get a proper spring, but there are at least a couple of months where you can go out and look at the same shrub or tree every day and watch it change, almost in front of your eyes. Right now everything is coming out of hibernation. Some of the blueberry bushes already have blossoms on them and the fruit trees are beginning to push new growth.

Here are a couple of pictures of the bud swell on a pear and an apple tree.

 

Pear bud
Pear bud
Apple bud
Apple bud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of the trees seemed to winter over without any trouble. We had some cold night and a few freezes, but I’m happy to report they all look good. As mild as the winter was, I’m not sure whether the fruit tree met the chill requirements, so it will be interesting to watch what happens over the next several weeks. Hopefully they’ll put on a lot of growth this summer and maybe we’ll see some fruit.

Happy gardening.

 

No small potatoes..

 

Back from a long hiatus with a brief update..A couple weeks ago I decided it was time to dig up the sweet potatoes. The plants had been growing for a while and I wasn’t sure how much longer to let them go. Anyway here is the result…Needless to say, I won’t be making any sweet potato pie out of these, heck there is barely enough for a jar of baby food.

These little guys are about a couple inches long each. Essentially they look like mini sweet potatoes. Maybe it was the fact that I tried to grow from a store bought potato, or they didn’t have enough nutrients or light. Either way, I plan to give them a try again next year.

With Thanksgiving coming up, maybe I could use them to make a really small sweet potato casserole. Now there’s an idea.

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy gardening and Happy Thanksgiving.