On Sunday 13th March OTAGS hosted a grafting workshop. This is how new fruit trees are made. You use 'rootstock' supplied from a specialist grower (so its disease free), with the rootstock chosen based on how small or large you want the tree to be. Then join material pruned from the tree you want to reproduce on to that rootstock - with a graft.
Peter Nichol from the Northern Fruit Group came to show us how and a very productive time was had by all. After spending an hour or so practising how to join the two pieces together, we set about the task of making trees for the orchard. By 3 pm we had grafted 40 trees.
It will take a few months before we will know if all of these have taken, but Peter re-assured us by saying that if any don't work he will show us how to bud - using the same rootstock.
For our orchard it was important to learn how to do this. Buying local heritage trees is expensive, and often they are not available. The idea is that a group of us will be able to continue to practice this skill, pass it on to others and make more trees for the orchard and to sell during our events, raising money to develop the allotment site.
We grafted: Allington Pippen, Ashmeads Kernel, Bee Bench, Bossom, Burr Knot, Crispin, D'Arcy Spice, Downton Pippin, Eccleston Pippen, Lemon Pippin, Laxton's Superb, Lord Derby, Lord Lambourne. Lord Suffield, Minshull Crab, Queen Cox, Stripped Beefing, Tydeman's Early Worcester, Withington Welter and Yorkshire Cockpit. All of these are apples which we grafted on to MM106 rootstock.
We also grafted some unknown apple and unknown plums, damsons and greengages varieties growing on our site. Later in the year we will host an apple identification workshop, where some of these varieties can be identified.