Last summer we rented a cottage in France, and our host gave us some of his homegrown tomatoes. They were proper lush! Luscious-liscious as my daughter and her friends would say. (See, I am down with the kids.)
Naturally, this led to many conversations about how best to grow them, and our host introduced me to grafting.
But first, the varieties. Everyone one in the family loved the tomatoes he gave us, and plates of fresh tomatoes became a staple. Except, that is, for the hardened tomato-phobe who wasn’t budging.
The varieties all had exotic names, and many had strange colours. There were purple ones, and one that had a suggestion of pineapple. Interestingly, a lot of the varieties had Russian or Ukrainian names: noir de Crimée was popular in the supermarkets.
I sought out interesting sounding seeds, some heritage, some not, when my thoughts turned to gardening after the winter, and here they are:
- Estima (root-stock)
- Prudens purple (kindly given me by our host in France)
- Black Russian
- Black Opal
Armed with a razor blade, I set to work! Mwah-hah-hah.
Yikes! This took nerves of steel. Decapitating your lovingly nurtured root-stock plants is hard. You have to brace yourself. Remind yourself you are not doing it for you, but for the plant.
Off it came. I then had to do something equally as brutal, and chop off the top of the scion, strip it of leaves, and make a wedge shape at the bottom.
After my razor-wielding butchery, this is all that was left:
Scary. The reason is that you want to reduce water loss in the plant until the graft union (surgery wounds!) have healed.
Now slit the top of the root-stock vertically, insert wedge-shaped scion, and put a clip on to hold it in place.
Finally, a tray of Frankenplants! No lightning needed, but deranged manic laughter did seem to help!
Off they went in a bin-bag tent into the cupboard under the stairs for a few days to recover in a cool, dark, humid environment. The surgical recovery ward!
I will of course, be posting updates as events warrant. And just in case, I still have a lot of un-grafted plants. In fact, I’m going to plant grafted next to un-grafted in the same planter in the greenhouse to do a comparison.