This old dog at 58 is learning a new trick, and if 58 is the new 48, perhaps I’m still a pup. I’m feeling more inspired about my future after learning that my associate, Bruce Van Dyke, is thirty years my senior (89 is the new 79) and continues to teach his specialty, grafting. Bruce and I became Certified Arborists in 1987, both motivated by our mutual friend, former Santa Barbara City Arborist, Dan Condon. Grafting is a fascinating practice in the art and science of trees. The desirable qualities of a plant (visual, smell, and taste) that are genetically embedded in a bud or cut twig are implanted into the vascular system of a favorable rootstock.My arboriculture class and I had the honor of an engaging and educational experience with Bruce. That dude is amazing. One Saturday, he shared his extensive experience and skill in the world of grafting trees. He boasts of his 250 grafts per day record when grafting compound was a buck a gallon (now $18 per gallon). Wow, grafting as full time job- I’ve never considered that!
More importantly, Bruce imparted his knowledge and experiences to twenty-five of my students, young adults to not-so-young adults, plus myself, one passionate instructor. He related his scientific knowledge about tree biology to the practice of whip, cleft and bark grafting (the latter being his preferred technique). he remarked about the simplicity of the process but emphasized to pay attention to the concepts of grafting, including how to avoid cutting off your hands.
Don’t miss an opportunity to see Bruce at La Sumida Nursery in Santa Barbara each winter at one of his fruit tree pruning or grafting workshops. You can also check out these alternative links (below) for videos and an excellent publication by ANR, Orchards and Deciduous Fruit Trees. [Note: citrus, avocados, roses, and many other trees are commonly grafted]. So, this old dog is learning a new trick. Now, I just have to practice for the rest of my career and see if I can turn it into a skill. Grafting trees offers opportunities to:
- grow multiple fruit varieties in a limited space by grafting them onto one rootstock
- conserve a high quality variety on a declining tree by grafting it to a healthy rootstock
- spread out your harvest period by grafting different varieties that ripen at different times on the same rootstock
- insure that you have a cross pollinator for specific species
- boast among your friends
The practice of grafting is a cool craft. And if you’re an old dog like me, take charge of your yard, read up, sharpen your knife and wear gloves. How can I help you with your trees? Treemendously Yours, Bill SpiewakLinks: