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The Mast-Head: Trying Again

Thu, 05/23/2024 - 12:18

Among the plant-related projects that I have gotten into, none is as challenging as grafting apples. Now, in the second year, I have one survivor out of a dozen attempts, a scion cut from a Quail Hill tree.

It was sentimentality that prompted me to try grafting. YouTube made it look easy, as it does all kinds of things — you, too, can build a suspension bridge!

Quail Hill was a big part of growing up, not just for me but for lots of Amagansett kids. The section along Old Stone Highway was where we went sledding, roaring down on steel-runner sleds and out-of-control plastic saucers. When there wasn’t snow, my friend Mike and I could run around there out of sight of adults.

The orchard at the far end of the property was a no-man’s land between us and the rest of the world. In late summer and fall, we could grab an apple from a low branch and not get kicked out of our private Eden, even if we deserved to be some of the time. You could get up to no good in there, too, and at night, when we were older, we did. In retrospect, mistakes were made; we survived.

I believe that I left the first batch of scion wood too long in a refrigerator and it dried out. One did eventually leaf out and in its second year is more than a foot tall and actually looks like a tree.

I can’t tell yet if I timed the process better this year, but I cut the scions later and handled them with more care. Some may be stirring to life now that they have been fitted to their rootstocks and left in a cool and shaded place to start to grow from two into one.

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