Today I went to the annual scion exchange of the California Rare Fruit Growers Golden Gate Chapter. Unbelievable! For anyone interested in growing fruit, a scion exchange is like a glimpse of the promised land--so many possibilities, so much potential.
This was my first time at a scion exchange and for anyone who's never been to one, here's how it works: Members of the CRFG bring scions (generally, 6-12" cuttings) from their dormant fruit or nut trees. The scions are piled in labeled ziploc bags on tables, grouped by fuit type, and for a small admittance fee anyone can take one or two scions of as many varieties as they like to bring home and graft onto their own trees. Grafting allows you to get more variety from one tree and can also provide cross-pollinators--both of which are big bonuses if you have a limited space in your garden.
In addition to all the goodies you get to bring home--and perhaps even more importantly--you get access to people who have a wealth of information and years of experience growing fruit and grafting. At the Golden Gate Chapter's scion exchange, Idell Weydemeyer performed some quick demos that made the whole process seem quite easy and absolutely doable. Clearly, Idell is not timid with a grafting knife--one of her apple trees has over 40 grafts on it.
So what did I come home with for my $3 entrance fee and $2 raffle ticket (guaranteed to win something)? Four kinds of cherry scions (Black Tartian, Van, Black Republican, and Lapins); Granny Smith apple scions for a classmate; Fuji and Early Fuji apple scions for me and two apple rootstocks to graft them onto; and a Mission fig cutting to root. I also purchased a couple dollars' worth of Parafilm to wrap the grafts in. I could have brought home a lot more, but why be greedy? There's always next year's exchange.
The scions are now safely stored in the vegetable bin of my refrigerator, wrapped in damp paper towels and sealed in in ziploc bags, waiting for the right time for grafting. A few more weeks, I think, and surgery can begin.