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

Preparing a pear tree to be topworked

Cutting the top off a pear tree for topworking

A previous post about topworking explained that my four year old pears are small enough to graft all in one go.  However, I've also read that it can be tough for a tree of any size to suddenly lose all of its branches, so some orchardists leave a few in place to shade the scionwood a bit so it's not exposed to blazing sun while trying to get established.  As a result, I decided to cut into the main trunk just above the first pair of limbs.

Notching the bark so it won't stripThe other factor to consider when preparing your tree to be grafted onto is ensuring you make a very clean cut.  The success of a graft depends on the cambium, which is the thin layer of living tissue just under the bark.  So, if you cut a tree and it tears half the bark off one side in the process, your grafts are going to be less successful.

I worked around this potential problem by cutting about halfway through the tree, then coming around to the other side and cutting through the bark there.  When I finished my cut, the top fell off the tree without damaging the bark at all.  (By the way, these sharp little saws are awesome for making precise cuts like this.)

Topless pear

Trim irregularities from woodTimber!

The final step in preparing the tree to be grafted onto is to trim any irregularities from the wood.  One of my cuts came out perfect, and the other needed just a tad of whittling with my sharp knife.  Now the tree was ready to accept scionwood and to be turned into a new variety.

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This post is part of our Grafting Experiment lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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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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I love my 12" none-folding saw. I can cut down a tree up to 6" across with no problems. I have been pruning big limbs off of the pine trees around the property for my hugelkultur piles. It has the teeth of a paranah.

I, also, carry a 6" Fiskars in my BOB in the trunk of my car.

I can not say enough good about these blades.

Comment by Mona Wed Mar 7 14:41:29 2012
I know! Those saws are so awesome!! I used to think I hated to saw by hand until we got one.
Comment by anna Wed Mar 7 16:52:19 2012

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