Post #73

Apples and pears

16th December 2003, lunch time | Comments (11)

A cartoon of a tree with different fruit on each half

I found out the other day that the old apple tree at the bottom of our garden produces two different kinds of apple. How? Well apparently it’s not one tree, but two stuck together… what you do is:

  1. Cut off a little branch from Apple Tree ‘A’;
  2. Make a little cut in Apple Tree ‘B’;
  3. Stick the little branch in the little cut;
  4. Slap some goo in and tape it all up;
  5. Wait a while for the little branch to become a big branch and bud…

And there you have it, a tree that'll produce two kinds of apple. (You can even do it with apples and pears, or practically any kind of similar fruit.)

The process is called ‘grafting’, and can either be used to produce a single tree with two different fruit bearing sections (as in our case), or to combine a super root system from one tree with a super trunk, branch and fruit bearing system of another tree.

I didn’t realise how often, or how easily, this was done:

…an ancient skill with all kinds of modern applications. Almost any fruit tree you buy in the nursery has been grafted with a disease-resistant rootstock to produce a hardier tree … if you can’t decide which apple or peach to graft, you can graft several different varieties onto the same tree.

Most fruit trees and decorative trees you buy from a nursery are grafted. How else could the nursery be sure you were getting a young tree with the characteristics you were promised?

Grafting, like cloning, ensures that the new tree is exactly like the parent tree … the only way to guarantee that any apple tree will propagate true to the parent.

… all MacIntosh trees presently grown have been vegetatively reproduced from the original MacIntosh discovered in 1729 in Dunelda, Ontario. This guarantees that all MacIntosh fruit today is the same as it was in 1729.

There’s a remarkably thorough explanation of the whole process on the University of Minnesota’s Extension Service web site.

I also thought that you could easily grow fruit trees from pips, but apparently that’s not even true:

Gardeners know that planting the seeds of a peach or apple will not culminate in a tree that has the same delicious fruit. Instead, the seeds produce wild progeny, usually with only marginally edible fruit. To get the fruit you crave, grafting is the answer.

I’m amazed I never knew this.

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Comments (11)

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  1. Scrivs:

    For some reason I found this fascinating, yet I have no interest in "gardening". Must learn to control the geek within I guess.

    Posted 48 minutes after the fact
  2. Colin D. Devroe:

    I've tried this with my Cat/Dog. No luck.

    Posted 5 hours, 28 minutes after the fact
  3. David House:

    Wierd. You and Jon Hicks both posted something about Gardening recently!

    (okay, so it's not that amazing.)

    Posted 5 hours, 59 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  4. Tom Dellaringa:

    D' my boyo, had you just read your Bible, you would have seen how old this technique is :)

    "Rom 11:17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed [old english for 'grafted'] in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; "

    It's 'grafted' in newer translations (such as the NKJV).

    The Bible has all the answers you need buddy :)


    Posted 6 hours, 18 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dris, ↓ Dunstan
  5. Christopher Holland:

    While in Napa a couple of years ago, I was told that nearly all of the grape vines there are grafted onto hardier root stock. The root stock is usually Muscadine vine from the southern US because it is quite resistant to just about anything (disease, drought, pests).

    I know that Mondavi said that they acquire their stock from Mississippi State University ( ), which has an enology (wine making) lab ( ).

    Just some more useless trivia to add to the conversation.

    Posted 6 hours, 29 minutes after the fact
  6. Dris:

    Wow! Who'da thunk?

    Posted 8 hours, 44 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Tom Dellaringa
  7. Dunstan:

    David: Oh yes, what a coincidence!

    Posted 10 hours, 11 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ David House
  8. Dunstan:

    Tom, everything seems to be in the Bible, it's like an oddly spelt version of the Encyclopedia Britannica ;o)

    Thanks for the info!

    Posted 10 hours, 13 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Tom Dellaringa
  9. Jon Hicks:

    Hey Dunstan - do you fancy doing Gardeners Question Time with me this weekend? :)

    Posted 20 hours, 55 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  10. Dunstan:

    We could certainly give Bob Flowerdew a run for his money ;o)

    "I'm afraid that this week the panel will only be taking questions on grafting garlic to other bits of garlic..."

    For those who don't know:

    Posted 21 hours, 6 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Jon Hicks
  11. Grafting Avocados:

    Instead of waiting 9 years for an Avocado you can choose a grafted variety and get fruit within 3 years. If you live in the city and want a smaller tree you graft with a tree with smaller characteristics and walla the same size fruit but a fruit tree that fits in a pot called Dwarf Fruit Trees ( ) Yes the bible always uses themes such as fruit to portray a spiritual message. Isn't it great that we are grafted into the promise of eternal life. There are a great deal of grafted fruit trees Online here.(

    Posted 1 year, 7 months after the fact

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