I managed to persuade the head gardener here at Walcot to show me how to graft fruit trees. After a crash course this week I was let loose on a row of MM 106 apple rootstocks to practice field grafting using whip and tongue technique. For those of you experts out there, please don't flinch at my beginner's technique. I am acutely aware there is a long way to go with this, but I must admit I'm already hooked and spend most of the afternoon out in a bitter wind on a raw February day working away to improve and only the hens with me to pass judgement.
I gathered scions from a Russet and Winter Gem in my garden as material to graft on. This is what I began with in the top pictures, then taking a razor sharp "Tina" knife I cut the 2 sections, one on each piece to marry up the Cambium layer as best I could - here you see I've got to do a bit more practice! I made the "tongue" incision to correspond on the opposing sides, then wedged the 2 parts together, leaving the characteristic "church window" arch exposed above the rootstock.
The last stage was binding up the grafted sections, and onto the next one till I had just about completed a row and they stood like like plastic bristles in the meadow. Now it's just patience to wait and see which have "taken".
Then home as dusk came, not much darker than at noon today. And later thoughts of supper, Roasted Pout and River Cobbler with a spiced tomato sauce...