This year we created almost 1,000 new fruit trees by grafting. Grafting is perhaps the most magical means of plant propagation. The basic idea is to use the strong, established roots of a native tree to grow a desirable tree that would not otherwise grow as well. We use the roots of the manzanillo tree. Manzanillos are small fruits that kind of (by a stretch) taste like apples. They grow like crazy here - in the forest, along the roads, etc. Onto manzanillo rootstock we are able to graft pear and quince fruits trees. The method we use is known as cleft grafting, and is also one of the easier forms of grafting. You can read about other forms of grafting on wikipedia.

Here’s what we do:

  1. First, find a manzanillo tree.
  2. Chop it down.

  3. Slice it down the center, vertically, about two inches.

  4. 1.Insert two scions, or stems, of either pear or quince tree. You can also try one of each! There are cases where grafted trees contain many different types of fruits: plums, apricots, peaches, etc. It really is magical.

  5. 1.Place a grafting medium over the exposed portion of the manzanillo tree. We use a type of wax that we buy from a hardware store, and it seems to work pretty well. For those in Mexico, it is called cera de campeche. For those in other parts of the world, ask around at a nursery or plant store.

  6. Wait!

One of the great things about this type of plant propagation is that after you’re done, the rootstock takes care of the rest of the work. The energy of the once large tree goes straight into those small pieces of quince or pear stems, and without water or work from you, the tree grows heartily. We graft in January and February, which gives the plant plenty of time to recover and start to grow before the rains come in June. In February of 2008, we grafted about 200 trees with about an 80% success rate. This year, over 900. So, in three years or so, expect to have loads of quince and pears to eat while you visit the Bosque!


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