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How to get (nearly) free fruit trees

ScionwoodDo you want lots of fruit trees, but don't have much cash?  As long as you're willing to experiment with grafting (you'll pick it up fast), all you need is rootstock and scionwood.  Rootstock is pretty cheap (usually $2 to $4, plus shipping), and you can also make your own by stooling (something I'm experimenting with this year --- more on that in a later post).  Meanwhile, scionwood is often free if you find someone willing to swap with you.

Last year, I pointed you toward (and used) the Northern Nut Growers' Association Scionwood Swap (and also did some swapping here on the blog).  But this year I found an even better resource and wanted to make sure you all were aware of it --- The North American Scion Exchange yahoo group.  I think you have to join the group to see anything, then you go here and look through each member's list, trying to find someone who has what you want and wants what you have.  I already tracked down a source for my three wished-for apple varieties of the year --- Kidd's Orange Red, King David, and Chestnut Crab.

Bench graftThere are also various in-person scionwood swaps scattered across the country, but I don't think there are any near us.  And some extension agents (like ours) offer grafting workshops every year where you pay a small fee for your rootstock and are given a wide range of scionwood to choose from.

The downside of all of these ways of getting nearly-free fruit trees is that you have to wait about two extra years for fruit.  But, especially once your first trees are bearing, it starts to feel like a good deal to get ten new fruit trees for the price of one.

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How timely - just this weekend I tried grafting a meyer lemon onto my patio lime tree. I also grafted a bud of the meyer lemon onto my kaffier lime. My first adventure into grafting.
Comment by Africnaussie Sun Nov 3 19:46:01 2013