North Branch Farm: Grafting Tutorial

photographs and text by North Branch Farm

Someday, when I create a farm calendar, the months will be: January, February, March, Apple, May, etc…and happily, as of today, bench grafting of apples (and some minor amounts of other fruit trees) is complete.  Below you will find Elsie’s photo tutorial of how to make a whip-and-tongue graft.  First, you practice by making hundreds of slices to hundreds of scrap twigs until you can produce the perfectly angled, oriented, and flattened cut with a single-bevel grafting knife.


Then you make these cuts on two identical thickness pieces of wood: one side is the rootstock, which is a baby tree that you’ve lopped off about eight inches tall, and the other is the scion wood, a two-inch section of a young branch from a desirable variety.  That’s the “whip” part.


Then you cut matching slits into each piece of wood, slits that go parallel to length of the scion and rootstock.  You push them together, with their “tongues” interlocked.  I guess you could say they’re French-kissing.


Then you bind them together with parafilm grafting tape, and hope for the best!

Our greenhouse is rocking out, and getting ready to have another similar-sized one constructed right next door.  The spinach I was hoping to would supply our needs turned out to be a little too copious, and we’ve been selling it off the farm to much acclaim.  You may have seen it if you’ve been shopping or eating at the Belfast Co-op, Fresh off the Farm, the Natural Living Center, or Shepherd’s Pie.



Newly seeded alliums

Newly seeded alliums.

Alliums are up!

Alliums are up!

Fresh wood

Fresh new wood on the barn, now covered up with typar, awaiting new windows, trim, and cedar shingling.