Top Grafting An Old Apple Tree
Let’s see an old variety of apple tree called ‘Bess Pool’ that originated in Nottinghamshire in the 1700s. It’s a healthy seven-year-old tree, but produces very little fruit because it blossoms late in the season when all the other trees have finished flowering. In order to get fruit, I need another variety that flowers at the same time to act as a pollinator. If you haven’t room for more trees so you can top graft different varieties on to the existing tree to create a family tree. The process of top grafting is fairly easy and is done in spring just as the trees are starting to show signs of growth.
When top grafting an established tree the first thing to do is cut back some of the branches to a framework. It is on the pruned branches that the new varieties will be grafted.
The graft wood, or scion, is cut from last season’s shoots from the variety that you want to grow. Ideally, cut these a couple of weeks before grafting as they need to be dormant. Store them in a cool place or fridge until needed. Some specialist fruit nurseries will sell graft wood via the post if you can’t find any locally.
Trim the scions to around 10-15cm (4-6m) long and using a very sharp knife cut the base to create a tapered wedge. Then use the knife to cut a slit in the bark on the top of a pruned branch and wiggle the knife to open it up. Push the scion down into the slit so that the cambium layers are in contact. You can insert two or three scions around a thick branch.
Lastly, seal the wound. Electric insulation tape is well used after which dab the cuts to prevent moisture getting in with grafting wax. After in spring and label the varieties the top buds on the graft should start to grow and form a fresh branch that you simply train to form a fresh tree.
Pollinate Peach Blossom
Peaches are one of the earliest flowering fruit trees and if the weather is cool, the lack of pollinating insects can result in a poor crop. To help pollination you can use a soft paint brush or rabbit’s tail to gently brush over the flowers when fully open to move pollen from one flower to another. It’s also a good idea to drape some fleece over the tree on frosty nights to protect the blossom.
Established strawberry plants growing exterior have been dormant but will shortly start to wake up. Before they make a flush of new leaf, give the plants a good tidy up to remove any fallen leaves that have collected around the plants and additionally any dead or yellow leaf. Once you’ve tidied up them, sprinkle a small amount of general fertiliser around the plants to give them a boost.
If you need more information about growing strawberries try here.
Top Tip: If you have time before the really season of sowing, you can, oh no, you have to sit down in advance in warm, dry house and to think about your veg plot, and then to write some labels for it.