Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Pomological Procreation

The MM106 rootstock I ordered in December has finally arrived, neatly bundled and wrapped for safe transit by the nice people at Blackmoor Nurseries.

This was my first order from Blackmoor, and I must say I've been very pleased with the service from start to finish. The price of £1.80/stock seems reasonable to me, and I've received regular e-mails charting the progress of the order. As a bonus, the rootstock has arrived just in time for the grafting course I'm attending at Stowe Landscape Gardens this weekend.

MM106 rootstock, if left to grow on it's own, will eventually produce a medium sized tree bearing a crop of fairly respectable cooking apples. But it's not for cooking apples that I've bought these trees, it's for their roots (hence the rootstock moniker), and perhaps a few inches of slender stem. Future branches, buds, and fruit-bearing are all surplus to requirements.

This might seem cruel, hacking a tree down well before it's had a chance to grow and blossom, but there's a very good reason for this hard pruning. Allowing an apple tree to grow on it's own roots will often lead to a very large 'standard' sized tree, difficult to control in a garden setting, and often just as difficult to harvest the fruit from. By grafting a small piece of wood (the scion) from the variety of apple tree we want to grow, onto the stem of our MM106 rootstock, we can control it's vigour and produce a semi-dwarfing or half-standard tree suitable for most medium-sized gardens.

In addition to the rootstock, we now have a bountiful supply of 'scion' wood ready to graft onto it. The fridge has been temporarily converted into a mini wood store, with all the good prunings from our cider apple trees nestling in the salad tray, waiting to go under the knife. As well as the Tremlett's, Dabinett, Yarlington Mill and Harry Masters', we also have two precious scions of Golden Harvey, a variety I've been keen to acquire since I spotted a tree at Lyveden New Bield orchard last January. Also known as the Brandy apple, and renowned as a good juicing and cider apple, this variety will take pride of place at the bottom of the garden where we hope it will one day provide shade, and a bumper crop of juicy sweet apples. My thanks to Ny of the Marches Cyder Circle for sending me this wood all the way from deepest Herefordshire.

I'll only be using a tiny amount of this collected wood. The surplus will be going to the First National Scion Wood Exchange, an exciting new initiative organised by the Midshires Orchard Group at Buckingham Garden Centre on the 7th & 8th of February.

No comments: