I've become very interested in learning how to bench graft mainly apples - can anyone forward over some resources on how to learn this craft? I'm fairly versed in starting seedlings of all types but have not ventured into grafting yet. How do you learn this craft? Trial and error or from a mentor or some other way?
Grafting is like a lot of other outdoor/homestead/traditional skills. Some learn from their parents, some from a club (Home ORchard Society in my case), some learn from friends, some learn from books or the internet. If you are learning to graft and want some advice, the HOS forum is a great, free place to ask questions, and the leader of the HOS is not anti-grafting.
That is a pretty clear video. I would say you learn it just like you learn most skills -- from practicing. My first grafts were actually successful. I attribute that to a careful and patient instructor and slow and meticulous implementation of the instruction.
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I took a class from an experienced grafter 2 years ago and it was very informative. However, I have since done well over 100 grafts with a very high success rate and while I'm still learning the best teacher was experience. Just get out there and do it. Apples are notoriously easy. Take some scionwood from an apple tree in early to midwinter, put it in a ziploc in the fridge, then try grafting it back onto the same tree or a different one in the spring (about mid-April for me in zone 5, though I've had successful takes as late as late June). Soon you may have several Frankentrees with many dozens of varieties, a budding orchard and spend your late winters trading fruit scions like baseball cards. Its not a terribly complicated skill it just takes diligence and care.
I learned to graft apples from Seed Savers Exchange. The video you linked to is a good overview of the apple grafting school they hold in that big red barn each Spring. If you can travel to Decorah Iowa I would highly recommend it. You get more detail than the video gave and some hands on practice with the experts right there to answer any questions. I know that sounds like a commercial. But I don't have any connection to seed savers beyond bring a satisfied customer.
And the orchard is really impressive too. About 600 different heirloom cultivars. Sadly it's not a permaculture planting.
I myself got interested in apple tree grafting this year. A lot of what I have learned has been by video and reading from the extension offices in different states as well as my own. I finally found an older gentleman that would teach me grafting. After doing all the research and video watching on the internet I pretty much knew everything that he was showing me except for a few pointers. Copenhaven farms for rootstock. The Scion or top Branch I am acquiring from Orchards willing to sell around me or family. Trying to buy Scion off the internet I have learned is very expensive and costly. I also have learned it is cheaper to do a hundred trees then what it is to do 20 or 30. The containers that I am going to plant them in I found off Craigslist for $0.10 a piece 3 gallon containers. Instead of buying soil in bags I also found it was cheaper to find some local business that can blend your own mix. $60 a yard around here in NC and 3 yards needed for 100 3 gallon containers. Being this is my first year of grafting I am not sure of the success rate of the graphs. I have heard anywhere between 15% and 90% success rate. Now whatever is successful I will get my trees out that I am looking for and then probably sell the rest to recoup all the money that I have invested. If I can help you with anything else feel free to ask. As I stated this is what I found out I am still a newbie at this myself and have not even started grafting but I hope that any of this information can help you.
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