This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In the spring of 1881, I practiced with much success a method of grafting, which I submit for trial to the readers of the Gardener's Monthly interested in the subject.
I cut the scions with shears into pieces of one, two or three buds, with from one to two inches of wood below the lowest bud, but prefer scions with only one bud. I then seat myself at a table, upon which a soft piece of pine used with smooth surface has been fastened, and with thumb and finger of the left hand take hold of the scion at the top bud, and rest its lower end on the board, holding the scion nearly perpendicularly, while with a thin, sharp knife, I make a downward oblique cut in a straight line five or six-eighths of an inch long, to and through the centre of the lower end of the scion, thus making one side a wedge.
This done, I turn the scion over, lay the cut side flat down upon the board and shave off its other side in like manner, but about one quarter of one inch less in length than the side first cut, making a sharp wedge, say six-eighths of an inch long on one side, and four-eighths of an inch on the other side. I use a budding knife, and scions can thus be prepared with much rapidity and uniformity.
I generally prepare about thirty scions in this way at a time, and put them in a dish with water, to keep them fresh until set, and then immediately proceed to set them.
If the limb or stock is an inch and a-half thick or more, and sufficiently firm, I take a thick, sharp chisel a quarter to three eighths of an inch wide, and with a hammer and the longest or straight side of the chisel inside, next the stock, make a cut obliquely downward into the stock, towards its centre, through the bark and into the hard wood, deep enough to receive the whole of the wedge part of the scion. Then with the hammer I drive the scion lightly down into the cut, with the longest side of the wedge inside next the stock, so that when done the scion will stand off from the stock, at an angle of about forty-five degrees, or about the angle that young limbs usually make with the stock from which they grow, and so that the cut bark on the shoulder of the longest side of the wedge will rest firmly against the cut partof the bark of the stock where the chisel first entered it. Or, with a thin, sharp knife blade and the hammer, I make a broad cut downward in the same direction, and of the same depth, into the hard wood, and set in this cut two scions diverging like the sides of the letter V.
It is safer not to drive the scion down quite to the shoulder, than to drive it at all past that point; for if driven too far, no part of the cut bark of stock and scion will touch each other, and the operation will fail, while if not driven quite to the shoulder the cut bark on each side of the slope on the scion will cross and touch the cut bark on the stock, and will almost always thus form a union.
If the scions are to be set in limb or stock too small to stand firm under the hammer and chisel, then with a thin,sharp knife-blade I make a straight oblique cut down and towards the centre of the limb or stock into the hard wood, deep enough to receive the wedge part of the scion, and then set the scion in this cut precisely as in the cut made with the chisel.
SIDE CLEFT GRAFTING.
1. Graft set in and tied with worsted.
2. The same covered with wax.
3. The same when one year old.
Stocks and scions of nearly the same size can be grafted in this way with great rapidity and success. But of course, the smaller the stock, the more nearly perpendicular will be the cut in it to receive the scion, and when set the scion will, in many cases, be nearly parallel with the stock. And when the scion and stock are of nearly the same size, I fit one side at least of the scion with one side of the stock.
When the scion is set, if the stock is too small to close upon and firmly hold it, I tie the stock and scion as in other processes ; but in all large limbs and stocks, if the operation is fairly well done, the stock will hold the scion firmly without any ligature.
The scion being thus set, if not tied, I next with a quarter or half-inch wide flat sash paint brush, fill every part of the cut about the scion with melted, but not hot, grafting wax, or with cold, liquid grafting wax, and if the graft has been tied, I cover all exposed cut parts, and then bandage with the wax.
In root-grafting young stock, I always tie with woolen yarn and wax all the yarn in above manner, except a line on the bark of the stock or root, which I leave exposed to the ground and weather to rot off as growth proceeds.
In all cases I leave the end of the stock an inch or so longer than the end of the scion, so that buds on the stock may draw the sap up to and above the point of intended union, and this greatly aids the success of the operation.
When the scion starts to grow, I rub off the sprouting buds on the stock, and in time cut the stock off just above the graft, in all cases where the scion is set at or intended to grow from the end of the stock.
3ut in re-topping large trees, and in grafting limbs, I frequently put in a scion near the end of the limb by this process, as in the end by other methods, and then set other scions along the limb in its sides whenever new branches are desired, even in a limb or trunk six inches or more in diameter.
With care and good judgment, a tree can thus be made symmetrical, and long, bare limbs can be covered with a new growth of branches. But of course, the scions that are nearest the end of the limb, will push the most vigorously, and the strength of the growth of all will depend largely upon the extent to which the tree is headed in or cut back.
To sum up some of the advantages of this method as they impress me, I submit:
1st. That scions can be set far more rapidly than by any other process.
2nd. That the operation is more uniformly successful.
3rd. That in most cases all tying and untying as growth proceeds, and re-tying to prevent blowing out, are dispensed with, and the scion stands firmly in the hard wood from its first insertion, and is able to take care of itself against ordinary winds.
4th. That limbs can be thus provided whenever taste or utility may suggest.
In all other methods of side grafting, I believe the union is attempted to be made only in and under the bark, and such grafts are apt to be blown out, unless time and care are bestowed on them while growing.
Let me add, that in all processes of grafting, there are great advantages in using short scions - one bud or joint is enough - because there is less surface for evaporation, which is a frequent cause of scions failing to unite with the stock.
They are also less liable to be knocked loose by birds perching on them, or by other means ; and the nearer the new growth starts from the stock, the less is the leverage for the winds to act upon, and the less the danger of the graft being blown out.
As an additional guard against evaporation, I always, when waxing the grafts, cover the cut top of the scion with grafting wax.
During the past winter I have collar-grafted by this method some twenty-five hundred pear and plum stocks, and shall set them out this spring, with hopes of much success.
I have also in mind some variations of the process which may be improvements, and will be tested this spring and coming summer.
In cases where the stock or limb to be grafted is more than three quarters of an inch thick, it will be best to set scions in the end of it, by ordinary cleft grafting, or by crown grafting under the bark, and at the same time put in scions in the sides of the limb or stock as wanted. These grafts in the end of such large stocks or limbs will be needed to grow over and heal the stump properly.
[We regard this as one of the best contributions we have received for a long time. The mode is so simple that the only wonder is that it has not been in practice long ago. Perhaps it has, for generally there are plenty of people who know things after other people have told all about them. One thing is certain, this simple plan has never been published. - Ed. G. M].