Looking at some of the threads where members of this forum have described orders they’ve received or where they’ve noted what they’re buying, I was a little surprised to see that people with seemingly well established orchards that have been growing fruit for several years and who are experienced at grafting seem to still be buying substantial numbers of trees and mostly non-patented varieties that one could probably get scion wood for easily enough. It seems some people are more eager to get to larger and bearing trees, and they’re willing to pay to get there sooner.
Personally, I’m still very interested in trying and adding new species and varieties (and adding more of some varieties I already have), but I feel like I have enough things going now that I can take the slow path with additional things. For example, I already have three pecan varieties of purchased trees, and there are three or four more varieties I’d like to grow, but I’m planning to use seedlings (that I started a couple years ago from nuts) for rootstock once they’re growing more vigorously, which I expect means it will probably be another two or three or more years before I graft them, if I’m even able to find sources for scionwood of the varieties I want when the rootstocks seem ready. My purchased trees are still far from yielding, so I’m not inclined to spend more money when I have yet to see if late frosts or disease or birds or whatever are going to take all my nuts every year anyway. But I was inclined to spend a fair amount of money at first, just to get a good basic assortment of things going.
At this point, I’m as interested as much in propagating things as I am in having them. It seems to me it’s more satisfying to grow a seedling and graft it (or whatever method of propagation applies), with all the learning and challenges and optimization that comes with growing, than it is to buy a tree, just as homegrown fruit can be more satisfying than purchased fruit that’s just as tasty (and even just as organic, etc.) And I appreciate the value of a tree that I can multiply, replace, give to friends, etc. for basically just the cost of time spent doing something I enjoy, so those are skills I want to develop and fine tune.
I suppose part of the differences between my approach and others may have to do with age and how settled different people are and how much space they have. I’m middle-aged with no plans of ever moving and a pretty generous amount of space (a small farm) for growing most things, so I have hope of harvesting things that won’t bear for another 20 or even 30 years, and I hope my son (and his children that haven’t even been born yet – my son is only 8) will take over and enjoy the things I plant after me, so I even have thoughts of starting things like shagbark hickories from seed that even if I graft mature wood onto them may not bear before I’m dead or too toothless to eat nuts. I can see how I might look at things very differently if I didn’t think I’d be here much longer and I expected the next owner just to cut everything down for ease of management.
Are there others on the forum that have reached a stage where they’re content to take the slow path with most additional things they want to grow (start it from seed, graft it themselves, etc.)? I’m sure some people just aren’t interested in propagation at all or maybe just as a means to acquire varieties that can’t easily be bought. How do you all decide whether to buy things or take the slow path?