One of the interesting things we do here at the farm is grow fruit trees from scratch, as well as teaching other people how to do it, which is lots of fun.
Some trees are grown from cuttings (e.g., plums) and some are grown from seed. We usually grow our own peach, plum, pear and quince rootstocks this way.
These days we look after the Growing Abundance juice press (which in turn is on long-term loan from the generous folk at The Little Red Apple in Harcourt), which means that Ant can use it to juice his apple and pear seconds at the end of the season.
It’s a great press, and being able to juice fruit from apples grown here on the farm (in those years when there’s a good enough apple harvest) yields enough delicious organic apple juice to share around, as well as plenty for Ant to turn into cider.
But it also means we can easily save the seed to grow organic apple rootstocks. We’ve grown all the apple trees we’ve planted here on the farm that way, a tradition which is now being continued by Carr’s Organic Fruit Tree Nursery.
Regardless of whether you’re growing trees from cutting or seed, they don’t grow “true to type”. They grow trees called rootstocks, which are used as a base to graft known fruit varieties onto.
Growing your own trees is a year-round process, with different small jobs to do at different times of year – just like all gardening really! We provide a full grafting calendar in our Grow Your Own Fruit Trees for Free course.
This is the right time of year to be:
- Gathering scion wood from varieties you want to use for grafting in spring, and storing it correctly to keep it in good condition.
- Gathering plum cuttings and storing them in damp sand over winter.
- Gathering seed from apples and pears, extracting the seeds and storing them in damp sand.
- If you’re planning a tree nursery, preparing the soil.
Does it sound complicated? It’s really not.
Grafting is an ancient method of preserving heritage fruit varieties that has been practised for hundreds of years, and continues to be passed from fruitgrower to fruitgrower today.
We think teaching people how to grow their own fruit trees from scratch is one of the most important skills we teach (through our grafting courses) because that’s where true fruit security starts.