Green Thumb: Grafting

Written by Kirstie Hibbard on January 20, 2016 in General

Graft (verb): to insert a stem or piece of plant tissue (graft/scion) into an established plant (the stock), which supports and nourishes it.

For those of us who aren’t aiming to get the greatest yield from our fruit trees, grafting may be a mysterious phenomenon. You most likely know about grafting because of a fruit tree or rose bush that supports multiple varieties which is trendy but also tactful and efficient.

Why Graft?

Grafting allows the utilization of one single root system—a system that is best adapted to soil or climate–to produce multiple varieties on one tree. Some of our favorite grocery store fruit varieties are completely unattainable from seed and only cultivated through grafting.

What can be grafted?

We’re going to reach back to our junior high science class for a moment (Kings play chess on fine glass squares, anyone?). Most varieties of the same species can be grafted. Plants of the same genus and species can usually be grafted even if they are a different variety. The key is a strong, established root system that is suited to the growing environment.
Plant With Purpose partnering farmers are cultivating the art of grafting through trial and error with different varieties, genus, and species. Haitian farmers are experiencing great success employing new agricultural methods like grafting. Wilner, one of the first farmers to partner with Plant With Purpose in Haiti, adopted new techniques with much enthusiasm. Wilner is now one of Plant With Purpose’s agricultural technicians teaching his neighbors new tools to improve their own farms.

“I empower people to care for the environment,” says Wilner.

Grafting is providing resilience and variety in the field and at the grocery store.

If you live in Southern California and want to learn more about tree care and grafting, check out this upcoming workshop (taught by my dad) at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano.

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