Grafts, hot­houses, spring spuds


When grow­ing grafted plants, it is easy to for­get that vig­or­ous root stocks can sprout and grow branches of their own. This de­prives the scion, or fo­liage above the graft, of sus­te­nance, and it fades and dies.

So, check grafted plants, in­clud­ing citrus and high health roses, for any un­wanted growths be­low the scion, and re­move them.

The root stock is part of a plant, usu­ally an un­der­ground part, from which dif­fer­ent above-ground growth can be pro­duced. It will have an es­tab­lished, healthy root sys­tem onto which a cut­ting or a bud from another plant is grafted.

This grafted part is usu­ally called the scion. It has de­sir­able above-ground prop­er­ties for pho­to­syn­thetic ac­tiv­ity, fruit­ing or dec­o­ra­tive pur­poses.

The root stock is se­lected for its in­ter­ac­tion with the soil, pro­vid­ing the roots and the stem to sup­port the new plant, ob­tain­ing nec­es­sary soil wa­ter and min­er­als along with pest, dis­ease and drought re­sis­tance.

Af­ter a few weeks the tis­sues of the two parts will have grown to­gether, even­tu­ally form­ing a sin­gle plant. Af­ter some years it may be dif­fi­cult to de­tect the site of the graft al­though the plant al­ways con­tains the com­po­nents of two ge­net­i­cally dif­fer­ent plants.

The root stock may be a dif­fer­ent species from the scion, but as a rule it should be closely re­lated. For ex­am­ple, many com­mer­cial pears are grown on quince root stock.

Se­rial graft­ing of several scions may also be used to pro­duce a tree that bears a num­ber of dif­fer­ent fruit cul­ti­vars, with the same root stock tak­ing up and dis­tribut­ing wa­ter and min­er­als to the whole sys­tem. Those with more than three va­ri­eties are known as fam­ily trees.

This month’s prepa­ra­tions for spring in­clude tidy­ing up gar­dens and glasshouses.

If your glasshouse is clear of plants, burn some sul­phur pow­der to kill all the pests that are wait­ing for warmer days. Treat the soil with Ter­racin Soil Pathogen Sup­pres­sor, and three weeks later with My­cor­rcin.

To beat the potato psyl­lid, get in an early potato crop be­fore the pests start for the sea­son.

In a deep trench place a small hand­ful of sheep pel­lets, a ta­ble spoon of gyp­sum, a tea­spoon of BioPhos and a sprin­kling of Neem Tree Pow­der, and cover with a lit­tle soil be­fore plac­ing the seed potato – shoots point­ing up­wards – on this ‘‘bed’’.

Cover so shoots are un­der about 10mm soil.

Check reg­u­larly and when the shoots poke through, cover with another 10mm soil. This pro­tects them from any frosts.

Keep do­ing this un­til the trench is full, then start mound­ing up. Pota­toes should form all the way up mak­ing for a heavy crop. Pro­tect the fo­liage from any late frosts with a spray of Va­por­gard, or use frost cloth or sack­ing.

Early pota­toes planted now will be ready be­fore Labour Week­end and should be free of psyl­lid dam­age. Ei­ther har­vest the lot then, or cut the tops off so the pests can’t dam­age the crop.

Prob­lems, ring me at 0800 466464 (Palmer­ston North 357 0606) Email wal­lyjr@gar­de­ Web site www.gar­de­


An ap­ple tree stem show­ing where the fo­liage and fruit bear­ing scion is grafted to the root stock. It is im­por­tant to keep the root stock free of any un­wanted way­ward sprout­ings.

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