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Has anyone tried growing grafted vegetable stock or even better, tried doing it yourself?

Posted Monday, December 24, 2012, at 2:53 PM

Some of you might be like me, I heard about grafting of fruit trees for many, many years, but vegetables? But this year, expect to see grafted vegetable plants starting to show up in your mainline seed catalogs.

You might want to learn more about the why's and how's so here are two links that might begin to answer your questions.

http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/sfn/su...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHnOYcI6B...

The method recommends certain seed stock for the base but have you ever noticed how the overwintered, self-sown vegetable seeds that become weeds in your garden are so strong and healthy? If they could be used, would they be better than store bought?

Here is a great project for you (and me). If you collected some seeds from plants you grew last year, consider committing a few to this experiment. I would start a few saved seed as normal and at the same time start a new variety so they would be similar in size when you go to graft.

I would also try some winter sown. Base plant seeds and your new variety.


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I have never heard or thought of grafting vegetables....wonder if some heirloom varieties are massed produced for the trend of them we have had over the last few years, grafting pea vines or them butternut squash i love so much...hmmm....vary interesting I have my curiosity up now...think i will check it out...Thanks Steve

-- Posted by chefgrape on Tue, Dec 25, 2012, at 10:33 PM

wow...by grafting they are finding the grow season longer and resistance to soil disease, high production and the need for genetics for heartiness unnecessary... i am all for not eating GMOs

-- Posted by chefgrape on Tue, Dec 25, 2012, at 10:39 PM

I understand how a rootstock can help with more resistance to soil-borne issues, but if it increases production, and performance above the graft, does it change the resulting seed produced by the new plant?

Some growers like it because they get more out of heirlooms. Does it improve the heirloom's seeds?

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Dec 26, 2012, at 6:19 AM

I noticed something else in the readings. They instruct to get rid of any roots that come from the joint or above. In essence, don't let the desirable cutting on top have any access to nutrients except through the base.

This makes sense but brings up a contradiction to planting tomatoes that has long been an accepted method and that is burying the plant deep to allow for roots to be formed along the base.

I have not found an exact statement about planting yet, but it would seem that you have to plant in a way to make sure the graft never gets below the soil line. Trust in the base stock to grown sufficient roots.

This would also mean you need to keep an eye out for "air" roots coming from the graft or above and keep them trimmed. Maybe a collar at the base of the plant would help?

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Dec 26, 2012, at 7:22 AM

It does make sense remember most the grafting that has been done was hydroponic,which to me is high maintenance anyhow and those I've seen only had the roots below the graft,like those in tomorrow land at Epcot best I remember and some in an Ag. class in college I suppose after awhile the seeds would also become possibly resistant to things like soil diseases but not sure at all about flavor, while heirlooms and sun ripened tomatoes have better flavor unless you allowed real sun and good water along with rich soil(hard to find without adding nutrients and minerals to the soil)would and should along with high maintenance get the right flavor or a more intense one anyhow....I know when it does come to tomatoes hot house and hydroponics these days are mealy and flavorless....then again I have not had a good rich flavorful farm grown in good soil tomato slice slapped between two pieces of white bread with some mayo since like 1975ish...those were the days!

I would think if you had the time and could deal with maintaining grafted vegetable crops they would yield a higher quality...I wonder if some of the heirloom seeds you would get from like Park's or Stark's or a specialty vendor would be just that exactly, justifying the heirloom by generational grafting!

-- Posted by chefgrape on Wed, Dec 26, 2012, at 11:43 AM

Just like we were told when we were young, "You are what you eat", for good or bad.

So plants are what they absorb, and I believe you are right about hydroponic and greenhouse tomatoes. The plant often gets synthetic nutrients so why are folks surprised when the tomato tastes synthetic? They are bred to hold well in shipment so why be surprised when they never seem to ripen?

Some say Vidalia onions don't taste the same when grown elsewhere, peppers don't have the same heat intensity as remembered from their origin, potatoes don't have the same flavor as those grown up North, etc.

In some cases, they may taste better, just different but not too many rave about the flavor of synthetic. Wow, that was a good plastic tomato! :-)

Somewhere, someone has probably experimented with adding certain things to influence flavor. Anyone aware of such experiments?

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Dec 26, 2012, at 1:02 PM

I was watching PBS yesterday and the Hippie/New Age (please forgive any stereotype) guy they had on was sitting in the dirt talking about nutrients and soil, I was listening when he said that any animals he had, that had died, he took generational soil and stuffed in there bodies before burial, then after natural disintegration he took surrounding soil and the carcass soil and used it in his patch of earth for full natural and rhythmic harmony (I was intently listening to this guy)promoting better growth and full flavor. This guy was great for mountain patch, back woods wisdom. Anyhow besides needing a good hot shower (can't get past it sorry) he was also grinding old stems and vines and burning any thing else he cleared from his patch for ash, and using it as surround mulch and added soil around his plants....In today's world with the carcinogens and hormones and added chemicals we feed our families and animals,if we did that out back in the yard, we would probably have generational carcinogenic vegetables, but he had the right idea I think I may could even get a great tomato from that guy and would eat his vegetables for flavor alone...later in the show they took you to a rose greenhouse where they were grafting roses for better and different and new varieties and it was all above the root stock. In older grown plants you could see the graft area and any immediate growth it was trimmed and the soil was only covering the roots below...I would think vegetables grafted and treated like that method and with the addition of some mountain man soil we might have something there, especially flavor!

-- Posted by chefgrape on Fri, Dec 28, 2012, at 7:59 AM

Since it was Thursday night and WNPT I am going to guess it was the "Volunteer Garden" and from that guess the "Hippie/New Age" guy was Jeff Poppen, otherwise known as the "Barefoot Farmer".

It has been about 20 years since I talked to Jeff personally but I keep tabs on him through the show. All I can say is that he walks the talk and what you see is the true Jeff Poppen. I am sure any of his customers will attest to the quality and great flavor of his crops.

We both used to be members of an organic movement in Tennessee that certified organic farms before the government took over. He used to be one end of the spectrum and I was probably the other with a lot of other folks in between.

He had some problems with his neighbor this past year that (because of his strong commitment to bio-dynamic growing) caused him to make some major adjustments. http://www.barefootfarmer.com/

-- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Dec 28, 2012, at 2:31 PM

yes...that's him....vary knowledgeable...thanks for the link...great website!

-- Posted by chefgrape on Sat, Dec 29, 2012, at 11:33 AM

I saw the recent episode of Volunteer Gardener and it was interesting to see him graft the rose bush plants. If you haven't seen it, you can watch it on YouTube here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrJDaAiP5...

And thank you for the link. We watch Volunteer Gardener every time it comes on and have learned a lot from watching him. We try and grow a very healthy garden without the use of chemicals, for our family.

-- Posted by -Beth- on Tue, Jan 1, 2013, at 8:09 AM

Good for you Beth! One of the often unspoken benefits of growing your own food is that you know what is on and in it.

It also brings an awareness of what could be on your food coming from unknown sources. I have been eating a lot of grapes recently and many are coming from Peru. That's great, but I really know very little about what they use to make their grapes look so good.

I may get up on my organic stump a little more often this year. While our society has become more aware of healthy growing and therefore healthy eating, there is still much to be done.

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Jan 1, 2013, at 10:50 AM


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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter and live on a farm outside of Bell Buckle. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.