The world of grafting enthusiasts is diverse and energetic. As part of the UCLA Plant Propagation class, taught by David King, we took a field trip on Feb. 6th to the Rare Fruit Growers monthly meeting. We were instructed to bring scion from our fruit trees, and I took some Apricot and Santa Rosa Plum scion. The scion, wrapped in moist paper towels in plastic bags and carefully labeled, was lined up alphabetically on tables along the front of the room.
Three demonstrations of grafting made this a great learning experience for me. Seeing it in person is so much better than reading about it in a book, or watching it on Youtube. We listened to Dan Bayer tell stories of learning when a young boy how to graft grapes from his father in Egypt. He was entertaining and eager to teach us his skills and the rationale of his techniques.
He also brought Persian mulberry to share, which I am attempted to root. After Dan spoke, we saw how to graft using a chisel and more machine-like techniques. Somehow the grafting knife seems most appropriate after the stories connected to Dan’s artisan techniques. One on side of me in the front row sat a man who had almost cut his pointer finger off while grafting. How appropriate that he talked about safety, especially when grating in the tree! He wore an orange apron designed to hold all the important tools: knives, tape, scion.
On the other side of me sat a man who told me he is a member of several rare fruit grower groups, including one in Orange County, and that he goes to meetings almost every weekend to learn as much as he can.Clearly he is an enthusiast!
The information gained from this meeting was eye-opening, but the sense of community was even more meaningful. There were several visitors, our UCLA class, and the regular club members. Everyone seemed sincerely interested in trees and sharing their plants and their vast knowledge. At the end of the meeting, club members and then visitors were allowed to collect scion to take home and graft onto their own trees.
Have I grafted yet? Yes, I attempted to graft a White Genoa Fig from the Learning Garden onto our Black Mission Fig. Only time will tell if I’ve been successful.