Since this spring will be my first time grafting trees, I figured I’d better get some practice in. I’ve been practicing the cuts on twigs, but the only way to tell for sure if I’m lining things up right is to try it live. I have a long-suffering lemon tree that I’ve grown from seed that is due for some pruning. So I figured why not graft some buds/twigs to itself on branches that I will probably remove anyway. Better to make mistakes here than on my apples, pears, eyc. Posting here to keep myself honest and track progress, but any comments or critique are welcome. I’ll also include my novice observations.
Tools and materials:
sheepsfoot pocket knife
First up is a chip bud. Taking the bud off was easy, but I ended up cutting clean through the branch on my initial destination, as well as the second choice. Lesson learned: small twigs are tricky for this method. Once I selected a slightly thicker twig, I was able to cut a spot that matched very well with very little effort. I lined it up, then tilted it very slightly (per fruitmentor youtube recommendation). The accidentally removed twigs were used in the next two attempts.
Next, is a so-so cleft graft. I was unable to achieve as full insertion depth, even after making my cleft a little deeper. I think the top of my cuts were either curved or too steep. I lined up the cambium on one side as best as I could, then gave it a slight tilt to increase odds of contact.
Lastly, a quite poor attempt at a whip and tongue. The joining surfaces ended up offset from each other, and the union was pretty wobbly and hard to wrap with parafilm. I have the least confidence in this graft of the three. Clearly, I don’t understand this graft as well as I thought, and I’ll have to hit the books and the practice twigs some more if I want to use it.
Out of the three attempts, I liked the chip bud the best. I think this method makes the most sense to me and that I understand it best. It’s also the one I’ve practiced the most, so it’s not so surprising that it went the most smoothly. Cleft graft I liked OK, but I definitely need more practice. As I mentioned before, I really need to revise my understanding of the whip and tongue graft. I predict that the chip bud is most likely to succeed and the whip and tongue is least likely. We’ll see what actually happens.
My other observations are:
- a sharp knife is helpful (duh)
- 1/2" parafilm covers territory faster than I thought it would when I saw it on the roll
- lemon twigs require a lighter touch than the oak I’ve been practicing on
- I can see how a single bevel knife could be helpful, but it doesn’t strike me as necessary
- wrapping the top of a twig after grafting seems dicey. I understand now why others here recommend wrapping or waxing it before grafting