Farming at Pietree is special for so many reasons. The beauty here is definetly one of them. These shots were taken this week by Patrick McDonald, our Orchardist's Assistant. Take a peak at what he gets to do and see everyday!
Grafting is a technique used to change the variety of an apple tree by inserting a section of an apple (budding limb) limb into the stock of another tree. The insert, or scion, then begins producing and the lower portion, or host, serves as it’s root system. This way we are able to use the root systems of undesirable varieties (sorry Red Delicious fans). This allows us to try some new, old or exciting apple varieties at the Orchard and determine those that are worth planting on a larger scale.
This process starts in February or March while the trees are still dormant. Our Orchardist braves the weather and heads out into the orchard to scout the trees for the perfect scion specimens. The scions are gathered and stored until late spring.
Once the bark on the apple trees starts slipping, typically mid-late spring, it is time to start grafting. We typically use two grafting techniques- the whip and tongue method and the bark graft method.
We use the whip & tongue method when the wood is a year old and about the diameter of a pencil. We match the diameter of the host tree to the diameter of the scion. A tongue cut is made allowing the scion and the host to lock together.
We use the bark graft when the wood is older than a year or the diameter is larger than 3/8-1/2 of an inch. A portion or branch of the host is cut back and the scions are then placed snuggly inside the cut. Within 2-3 years the scions will begin producing apples with the host tree serving as it’s root system.
Grafting has allowed us to add 20 different varieties of apples onto trees that were once Red Delicious. Some of these are Heirloom varieties such as the Cox Orange Pippen, Esopus Spitzenburg and Reinette Simirenko. Others are newer, even experimental, such as the ME-8256. The ME 8256 was developed by Russell Bailey at the University of Maine in the ‘50s and offered to growers to try in their orchards. Our scions came from the orchards set out originally by Charley Fillibrown in Waterford. The ME 8256 doesn't have a name yet. We are looking forward to naming the ME 8256 here this Maine Apple Sunday, September 13, 2015!
This Sunday, December 21st is the Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice is the day with the longest night. On the very next day we begin to see an increase in light, which is why many cultures celebrate the returning of the sun on the night of the solstice.
The Winter Solstice is the perfect time to relax, reflect, and be with family. Something about the cold and dark makes you want to be inside with your loved ones near. The time together can be spent reflecting on the blessings of life and remembering that the sun is returning more and more with each day.
Meet our orchardist and event coordinator at the farmstand on December 21st at 3pm for a guided Sunset Solstice Stroll thru the orchard- just in enough time to take in amazing sunset views and get back home to enjoy the longest night of the year with loved ones!
The sunsets here at Pietree are always beautiful and we are often lucky enough to see natural phenomenon such as sundogs from the top of our hill. Enjoy hot mulled cider and learn about orchard traditions and folklore associated with December such as Wassailing!
This is a FREE family event with limited space. Please call 207-647-4124 to reserve space or for more information. Dress warm with sturdy foot wear, bring a walking or hiking pole and don't forget the camera!