Locals learn grafting & cutting at community orchard workshop
April 6, 2023 CARING | COMMUNITY | Community Orchard | Education | Friends of the Farm | Workshops

What a beautiful afternoon we enjoyed, an enthusiastic group, gathered under the shade of the feijoa trees. Some locals, and some from further afield, joined Friends of the Farm keen to learn about cuttings and grafting.

Richard, our plant expert showed us how to take cuttings. Doing this replicates the original plant exactly and is an easy way to share plants between friends. (See below for detailed instructions on how to take and grow cuttings.)

Next we moved onto grafting. This enables gardeners to grow a scion from a similar plant onto an existing plant or onto root stock, thus allowing us to share our successful fruiting trees. We practiced cutting ‘whip and tongue’ and ‘wedge’ shapes using nearby coprosma branches. It wasn’t as easy as it looked as we lacked Richard’s years of experience. Richard noted this time of year was perfect for bud grafting, so the peach and plum branches brought from our home gardens were put to good use. Leftover branches were cut up and distributed for people to take home and either graft onto existing trees or to grow as cuttings.

Caroline, from Friends of the Farm, said “Each time I go to one of these workshops, I learn something new or I am reminded of something I had forgotten. Taking part in a workshop is a great way to meet and share knowledge with people with similar interests”

Golden Queen peaches are an ideal rootstock for almost all stonefruit so Richard encouraged everyone to eat as many Golden Queen peaches as possible then store the cleaned stones in the fridge for about six weeks. These could then be planted into the community orchard, to grow up into rootstock for future grafting workshops.

Save the date! The next Friends of the Farm working bee at the community orchard will be on Saturday 15 April 2023 2-4pm. No need to register, just turn up and bring secateurs and gloves if possible. We will have another grafting workshop later in the year – keep a look out.

Taking cuttings

Using the soft new growth and sharp secateurs cut just below a leaf node to create a 5-10cm length of stem. Remove most of the lower leaf growth and cut the remaining leaves in half. Dip the base in honey water (literally a spoonful of honey dissolved in water) or rooting hormone to encourage the cuttings to develop roots. Use a sandy soil or cutting mixture to provide an ideal base for the cuttings as they begin to grow. A plastic bag secured over the top makes an ideal ‘greenhouse’ and maintains high humidity. Peppermint geranium, lavender, rosemary and pineapple sage are great plants to start with. Cuttings must be kept moist to prevent water loss until they have grown their own roots.

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