Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH 03887
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Apple Tree Grafting Workshop Attracts Loads of Apple Lovers
The recent first-ever Apple Tree Grafting Workshop offered by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) was record-breaking in its popularity. With hands-on participants capped at twenty, the registration list filled up a month early, and another forty were on a waiting list hoping to come and learn to graft their own tree, ten of whom decided to attend just the introductory slide presentations on pruning and grafting. The class was hosted and co-sponsored by Branch Hill Farm and taught by Jared Kane, owner of Jug Hill Orchards in Milton Mills.
Kane, who grows cider specific apples and has won national awards for his hard cider, is knowledgeable about all things related to apple trees and apples. Jill Vendituoli, a workshop participant from West Newfield, ME and an apple cider enthusiast, and was thrilled to attend and learn from Kane. An experienced orchardist herself with 35 apple trees, she thought Kane provided lots of good information about how to bring back an old neglected orchard. After the workshop, she fluently summed up the basic principles of pruning. “The whole idea is to let light into the trees and keep air flowing. Jared told us an old saying as a rule of thumb, ‘You want to be able to throw a cat through the branches.’ So don’t be afraid to prune, but don’t take off more than 30% at a time.”
Vendituoli was particularly interested in getting a refresher on grafting, the focus of the second half of the workshop. Participants were given a root stock of a variety of Russian apple tree, which is very hardy and can withstand the cold NH climate, and were offered a scion (a branch that gets grafted onto the rootstock) taken from an old local heirloom apple. Most people learned the tongue and whip technique of grafting, done on scions of the same diameter branch as the root stock stem, matching up the cambium along one edge.
Mikel O’Brien of Union, NH learned to graft her own small tree, which is now in her basement. Although grafted trees may become sturdier and more disease resistant than native trees, newly-grafted trees are quite fragile for about a year. O’Brien recited the care her new tree will take. After 2 weeks of ‘nursery time’ in the basement, she’ll put it in a semi-shady spot and keep it watered, buy a crabapple tree to pollinate it, and plant them both next fall, being sure to protect them from nibbling creatures over the winter. She quipped, “I feel like I’m having a baby! Right now it just look like a stick wrapped with tape in a pot. But I’m optimistic that it’ll become a real tree. And the workshop was fun! I’d like to have a reunion next year to see how everyone’s trees are doing.”
MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren was equally enthusiastic. “The workshop was phenomenal and we’re delighted there’s so much local interest in apple trees. MMRG supports local agriculture so given the popularity of this workshop, a repeat next year sounds like an excellent idea.”
MMRG, a non-profit land trust, works to conserve and connect important water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitats, and recreational land. For more information and a calendar of upcoming events, visit www.mmrg.info. Branch Hill Farm/the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust works to protect open space and working forests and to educate the public about sound forestry, conservation and agricultural practices; see www.branchillfarm.org.