Sunday, March 16, 2008

Bridge graft

In the three years we've had our house, I've attempted to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables. Most have died in short order. As a result, I've become very attached to the plants that remain. These include three apple trees we planted two years ago.

I put compost and mulch around them, maintain the fencing to protect them from deer, prune them and put spreaders on their branches. Although our yard is shady and full of tree roots competing for nutrients, the trees have grown a little every year, and it means a lot to me that they seem to respond to my care.

My heart just sunk last fall when I saw that one tree had been girdled: some woodsy creature had eaten the bark in a six-inch-tall swath all around the tree. Worse, my apple tree book had warned about this, and instructed me to put wire mesh around the tree in the fall to protect it against just such an occurrence. I had known my tree was at risk, not acted, and now my neglect might have killed it.

Spring is coming here, and soon the trees will come out of dormancy. It seems like a good time to attempt to put the tree in a position to heal itself. Armed with instructions from Five Acres And Independence by M.G. Kains, a few long twigs from pruning the trees, and wax from a wax toilet ring, today I attempted to bridge graft the girdled area. I felt bad for the tree cutting long sections of its bark wide open to stick the twigs into, and I'm not sure about my skill in shaping the twig ends.

I'll be ecstatic if the tree leafs out and looks healthy this spring. Last year, the apple trees leafed out at the end of April. So here's to some hopeful watching and waiting.

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