|practice graft in the polytunnel using a grafting block|
Once I'd got the hang of the intricacies of the cuts, the practice grafts were relatively easy as they're done at bench height using offcuts from apple trees pushed into a grafting block to simulate the rootstock. It is quite a delicate operation though because the most natural way of holding each 'twig' while you're cutting it always seem to be with your non-cutting hand in direct firing line of the blade should it slip...
And later it was time for the assessment, where we had to complete 3 grafts onto planted rootstock in 20 minutes. Being at ground level is a bit more difficult than bench level - you can either bend right over to work close to the ground (not great once you're over 35, to be honest) or kneel on a grafting block (a bit tough on the knees but bearable for 5 mins at a time). We each had a line of 3 rootstocks and a choice of scion - I decided on Blenheim Orange. I finished my grafts well within the 20 minutes, fully labelled and trimmed to an appropriate height. Suburban Orchard here we come!
|My three grafts in line, front to back.|