In order to produce fruit, apple trees need a nearby “pollenizer”, another variety of apple that blooms at the same time. In orchards, the different trees varieties can provide the necessary diversity. Since I only have the one tree, I’m forced to graft on different varieties in order to get any fruit.
My base tree is a Northern Spy variety, which is an old variety from New York state. I really wanted Pound Sweet, Pitmaston Pineapple, and Smokehouse varieties to graft on. Pound Sweet is a huge, almost melon-like dessert apple. Pitmaston Pineapple is a tiny, tart apple with well… pineapple notes. Smokehouse is a nice versatile apple. Sadly, all of the places I was looking to order scionwood from did not have Pitmaston Pineapple this year.
The other apple tree grafting consideration I needed to take into account was the bloom times for these various varieties. Based on the Apple Bloom Periods ebook from the Home Orchard Society, I got the following blooming periods:
- Northern Spy – C (Mid-Late)
- Pound Sweet – B (Mid-Early)
- Smokehouse – A (Early) or C (Mid-Late) [Two varieties same name]
- Pitmaston Pineapple – C (Mid-Late) [Couldn’t Get]
The problem with this is that I might have a bloomer in each of the A, B, and C blocks, but possibly no overlap, meaning no apples. To get around this, I looked though the Maple Valley Orchards and FedCo Trees catalogs for suitable varieties. I ended up selecting Shamrock (B) and Sweet Sixteen (C) to make sure that I at least had the B and C blocks covered. If my Smokehouse is the A block, I might still get some apples from early B period blooms, but at least my Pound Sweet and Northern Spy would produce.
I ended up ordering from Maple Valley because I missed the FedCo ordering window. The scions came well-wrapped and moist in a padded box on Friday. I kept them cool and today (Sunday), I went out and did the apple tree grafting. I used a Saddle Graft instead of a Whip-and-Tongue graft like last year. I also used Parafilm tape instead of Grafting Wax (which may be the stickiest substance on Earth).
I also cut off some excess branches and a bunch of extraneous, tiny “sucker” branches that formed after last year’s failed grafting. I sealed all the cuts with Tanglefoot Sealer.
The large branch pointing away from you in this photo is Northern Spy. Since it’s the main variety, I wanted to make sure it remained well-established without giving it too much of a headstart.
Now, we wait with fingers crossed.