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

Three ways to get more apples

New perennials

GraftingWhen I placed my perennial order last fall, I hadn't planned on attending a grafting workshop.  So, in addition to a couple of second-generation hybrid hazels, another hardy kiwi, and a blueberry gift for Kayla, I ordered five pear rootstocks and eight apple rootstocks for the two of us to split.

You'd think those rootstocks would be going begging with ten newly grafted plants in a nursery bed, but I still had five pieces of carefully collected scionwood waiting to be put to the knife.  I remind myself that these apples will be going onto M7 instead of MM111 rootstock, so they can be planted a few feet closer together --- surely I'll be able to find them a home at this time next year when they're ready to leave the nursery bed?

Calloused scionwood

Calloused scionwood closeupOne of the apple varieties I wanted to try this year is the chestnut crab, which I think might make the sweet, tiny apples I used to pick from a street tree when I was a kid.  A reader sent me some extra scionwood, and when I pulled the twigs out of their protective wrapping, I discovered that the bases had callused.  This enlarged white area is what often happens when a cutting is starting to root, so I figured I'd take the extra pieces and stick them in a pot of soil in my propagation area to see what will happen.  My understanding is that most crabapples don't get much bigger than an apple grafted onto semi-dwarf rootstock, and since crabapples can also be used as rootstocks for other apples, if these two cuttings root, I'm sure they'll have a use on the homestead.  (Yes, I am incapable of turning away from anything perennial that shows potential for rooting.)

Apple seedling

Sprouting apple seedsOn a final appley note, I pulled my Arkansas Black seeds out of the fridge a week or so ago and noticed there was ice on the damp rag I'd put in their container.  So I let the whole thing sit out for a few days and soon noticed little roots pushing their way out of the dark seed coats!  I carefully transplanted each sprouted seed into a depression in a pot of stump dirt and now the baby apples are opening up their leaves.  Yet another fun fruiting experiment in the making!

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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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Have the seeds been in the refrigerator since your December 6th post (linked to in this post)? Just curious to know how long the cold stratification has been.
Comment by Charity Thu Apr 10 10:59:39 2014
Charity --- Yep, they'd been in the fridge all that time. I'm not sure a lot of the time counted, though, since the container seems to have frozen up even though it wasn't in the freezer. (When plants measure cold weather, they usually don't count frozen time, just the not-quite-frozen chill on either end.) But whatever was counted, it worked --- nearly all the seeds germinated!
Comment by anna Thu Apr 10 11:36:49 2014

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