Peter Nichol from the Northern Fruit group came to show us how to propagate fruit trees using budding. A small group of us gathered to learn how to do this. We began by practising on some prunings from trees on the site - to try our hand at the technique.
Some say budding is easier than grafting (which Peter has also done with us). Only one of our number really got the hang of this technique. It involves making a horizontal cut in the bark (through to the cambium layer), called the top of the T, and then cutting down from the middle of that down the tree. Then comes the fiddly bit. You then very carefully open up the T section you've made in the tree (rootstock) to expose the green wood beneath. Budding knives have a special area on their blade which is supposed to make this easier, but it was tricky!
|Pete making his T section cut on the rootstock|
Once you've taken your bud off your branch you then tease out the core of the bud - as you want the two trees to join - and doing this helps with the joining.
Once that has been done you then slide the bud into the T section you've created, slice off any spare wood at the top, bind it up with grafting tape and wait. Watering well is essential to give the process the best chance of success.
Once we'd practiced we went and did some budding on some trees in pots and then went over to the orchard to bud some more of the rootstock. Sadly, the plum rootstock was too dry, so it wasn't feasible to try budding onto these.
We will have to see if these bud grafts take - time will tell.