How to get (nearly) free fruit trees
Do 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.
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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.
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.