The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Frameworking followup

Healing graft

Topworked pearThere's nothing like failing the first time around to make your ultimate success that much sweeter.  That's right --- the grafts on my frameworked pears are healing up well, and the growth from the scionwood is really taking off.  I've been ripping off new shoots below the graft union as I pass the trees by for the past couple of weeks, ensuring all energy in each grafted twig goes into the new wood, and now it seems to be time to take off the parafilm before the twigs burst free of their wrappings.

The Seckel scionwood I grafted onto our Keiffer pear is doing an excellent job, with nine out of ten grafts having taken.  The other pear --- with an unknown variety and Comice replacing the Orient twigs --- isn't as perfect, but enough grafts have taken there to make the variety changeover. 

Failed graft

Grafting onto a watersproutI'm not quite sure what the big difference is between the two trees, but I've got some guesses.  The most obvious factor that determined the success or failure of a graft was the orientation of the twig I grafted onto --- vertical watersprouts resulted in fast and prolific growth from the scionwood (photo to the left) while horizontal twigs (photo above) often failed to take or started growing late.  All of the twigs I used for the Seckel pear were waterpsprouts, while a lot more of the other tree's twigs were horizontal.

I also forgot to dab a bit of grafting wax on the ends of the scionwood on the non-Seckel tree, so those twigs might have dried out (although they don't look like it).  And it's also quite possible the Orient pear just isn't as amenable of a rootstock --- several of the grafts that did take on that tree have yellowing leaves on the scionwood and haven't put out much new wood, while the Seckel scionwood has shoots that are often nearly a foot long.  (This isn't a crazy idea --- some varieties are incompatible with each other and will simply die if grafted together.)

The tricky part will be keeping track of which twigs are the new variety and which belong to the rootstock, so I can slowly let the former take over the latter.  For now, the graft unions are very visible, but I suspect they'll disappear into the wood before long.  And maybe all this vigorous growth means we'll enjoy pears of the new varieties by 2015?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Colored zip ties, very loosely fastened near your grafted rootstock could help you keep track of things. With the help of a spreadsheet, which we all know you are already fond of, it would be pretty simple, i think!

Try to use darker colored ties-the reds, yellows and oranges can be hard to tell apart after a few seasons in the elements. I've found the green, blue, and black hold their colors better. For added insurance of identification, you could trim the ends of the ties in a fashion that is specific to the type of graft.

Comment by kevin Wed May 22 11:36:47 2013
I got an idea from to order custom dog tags online for labeling my fruit trees. They are $1-$4 each depending on the website you use, and are rustproof, often with the typical chain attached. They work perfectly.
Comment by jen g Fri May 24 18:47:40 2013

I cut open and flatten out an aluminum can, then cut out strips or ovals with a regular scissors. Lay the cut aluminum on an old magazine, and with an old ballpoint pen write the variety, or other information you want on it. Then punch a hole in one end and attach it to a branch with a loose twist of wire. It never fades, rusts, or changes really. You can do the same thing with PET plastic for a clear version, but that will degrade over time.

Comment by Eric in Japan Mon May 27 10:33:04 2013

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