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Old January 18, 2017   #1
BigVanVader
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Default 2017 Grafting thread: Open to all

I mentioned starting a thread on grafting as several members will be grafting this and many for the first time, so this should be a thread where we all learn and hopefully improve our situations.

I started my first seeds last night:
15 ISPL
15 Sweet Ozark Orange
15 Wes
15 Prudens Purple.

I plan to start more every 2 days and start my rootstock seeds (RST-04-106-T) after one more sowing of scions then continue staggering them until I'm out of rootstock. I plan to try some 3 variety grafts as well with the scions I dont use.

I used the varieties listed because 1. I have 100s of seeds and 2. They are some of my favs. I hope some other members jump in.
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Old January 18, 2017   #2
jtjmartin
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Thanks for starting the thread. I broke down and ordered the same root stock. I'm a few weeks behind you in VA.

I have a much smaller garden than you but I'm going to stagger my sowing of tomato seeds and germinate different batches of rootstock along the way. Hopefully I can match root with scion better that way.

Jeff
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Old January 18, 2017   #3
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I'm a complete newb with grafting. I started my 2nd round of seeds this past weekend. I just finished one practice round with some texas wild cherry and brandywine seeds I had started in early December. It failed miserably. Not one of them took.

This next round I've got Supernatural and Sungold as rootstocks and a Black Krim and some others for scions. I'm hoping to be able to control the growth of one or the other by regulating the amount of light and/or temperature.

I'm using an aquarium 1/4 full of water with an aquarium heater to control the humidity and temperature. I float the plants on a piece of foam and cover the top.

What I can't figure out is when to start exposing the plants to light and when to start backing off on the humidity.

I sure hope I can get even just a few to take. I've been reading Delerium's threads and his methods look different from what I'm seeing at some of '.edu' tutorials I find. I think I might give the no roots grafting a try.

Best,

Adam
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Old January 18, 2017   #4
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I'm a complete newb with grafting. I started my 2nd round of seeds this past weekend. I just finished one practice round with some texas wild cherry and brandywine seeds I had started in early December. It failed miserably. Not one of them took.

This next round I've got Supernatural and Sungold as rootstocks and a Black Krim and some others for scions. I'm hoping to be able to control the growth of one or the other by regulating the amount of light and/or temperature.

I'm using an aquarium 1/4 full of water with an aquarium heater to control the humidity and temperature. I float the plants on a piece of foam and cover the top.

What I can't figure out is when to start exposing the plants to light and when to start backing off on the humidity.

I sure hope I can get even just a few to take. I've been reading Delerium's threads and his methods look different from what I'm seeing at some of '.edu' tutorials I find. I think I might give the no roots grafting a try.

Best,

Adam
I have tried both and found a compromise in the middle that works better for me. I rip off most of the roots of the rootstock before grafting. When I make my grafting cut I lay the scion and root stock side by side and match the stems and make a diagonal cut through both at the same time then clip them together with a silicon clip. I then fill a small Styrofoam coffee cup with medium grain DE then give it a drink to wet the DE and let it drain. Then I take my finger or a pencil and make a hole then set the grafted plant in it and push the DE back against the stem at just slightly deeper than the original depth and then put some dry medium grain DE around the stem so it is supported better and isn't in contact with the wet DE. After potting it into the DE I hold it up to a bright light to make sure the stems are perfectly matched. Doing this will save you a lot of heartache and you will be surprised how many times you see the light coming through where they are joined meaning it isn't a clean meeting of the two stems.

Before I make my cut I trim most of the top off the scion because if it wilts too much the heavy weight of the leaves can cause the juncture of the graft to pull apart. I just leave a very small amount of foliage on the scion. I then place it in a plastic clear tote that can be closed and put it in a place where it is cool and leave it for two days. I then open it wide and let air in it for about 5 minutes then close it back and repeat this for a couple of days increasing the number of times I let in air. After 5 to 7 days from starting I leave the top cracked for another day or two then just totally remove the top and water the plants with a mild solution of liquid fertilizer. There will still be some wilting and some may fail but with time most of them will perk up and can be moved into more direct sunlight at that time. I never put mine in total darkness but do make sure they are well shaded for at least the first few days after grafting.

Once they are growing good I repot them in potting soil and place a skewer beside each one to make sure they don't fall over. I then gradually move them back into direct sunlight and after a few days expose them to wind. I do not remove the grafting clips until the day or two before planting if they look totally healed or I just let the growing plant pop it off. When I set them out in the garden they are well hardened off because of the length of time I wait before setting them out but I still clip them to my support string immediately to prevent wind from shearing them off at the graft juncture. It takes longer than you might think before that healed juncture is strong enough to withstand strong winds without some of them breaking apart. I learned the hard way that it is better to wait an extra week or two than rush setting out grafted plants too early in the spring weather.

From the look of my seedlings I will be starting my grafting in a week or two. I will start with the largest and do as many as are large enough to graft then wait a few days and do more when an adequate number are ready. I always start a new healing chamber for each batch. I also label the date so I know how long they have been in the chamber. I have found the longer you can leave them in the chambers the better as long as you don't have problems with too damp conditions starting damping off type problems. I only mist the top lid before closing the chamber and keep it closed between grafts so the plants are not exposed to the open any longer than possible after grafting. I will usually do two grafts put them in the chamber, close it then do two more til I run out of plants or fill the chamber which holds about 25. When I am ready to seal it I mist the top of the lid again and seal it.

The reason I use DE for starting seed and potting the grafted plants to go into the chamber is that using it instead of a potting mix greatly reduces the incidence of damping off of the stem either where it is going into the potting mix or at the graft juncture. It helps to reduce the amount of roots because it retards the root stock from sucking up too much moisture forcing the juncture to separate inside the clip. For that reason I try not to water my root stock for two days before grafting. You don't want them wilting but you don't want the root stock stem to be full of water either. On the scion I make sure they are well watered a few hours before grafting to lessen the wilting which will come while the juncture starts to heal.

I get the small DE for starting my seedlings at Auto Zone and the medium DE at O'Reilly auto parts. I dump the larger DE into a clean bucket for reuse when I go to repot them with potting soil to save a bit of money.

Since getting this technique down my success rate has been well over 90% overall but there will be times when for no reason that I can tell up to a third of them can fail. Before I went to using the DE and this system I would sometimes lose all but a couple of plants and rarely got better than 60% success. With all the time and effort grafting takes it is worth spending a little bit more on the DE. In areas where damping off isn't as common a problem as it is here it might not make as big a difference but it should allow you to leave the newly grafted plants in the healing chamber longer.

If it gets too hot and dry then the plants usually need more time to heal because of the lose of moisture from the scion which can slow the healing. If it is too cool that can also slow the healing. I find that somewhere that is comfortable for people works best for me so if it is too cold I move my healing chambers into the house or if it is too hot I set them on the floor of my tiny air conditioned greenhouse. If the temperature is moderate and it is raining every day with 100% humidity I open the lid and set my chambers on my porch and just leave the lids off unless the rain stops too soon. The plants seem to do great when that happens but that is not an ordinary circumstance but I have done it with several batches with near 100% success even when done the first day. If you do this and they start wilting badly you can always close them back up but it is rarely necessary.

Hope this helps you.

Bill
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Old January 18, 2017   #5
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A am present in the classroom (hand up ).
Will be reading.
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Happy Gardening !
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Old January 18, 2017   #6
b54red
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigVanVader View Post
I mentioned starting a thread on grafting as several members will be grafting this and many for the first time, so this should be a thread where we all learn and hopefully improve our situations.

I started my first seeds last night:
15 ISPL
15 Sweet Ozark Orange
15 Wes
15 Prudens Purple.

I plan to start more every 2 days and start my rootstock seeds (RST-04-106-T) after one more sowing of scions then continue staggering them until I'm out of rootstock. I plan to try some 3 variety grafts as well with the scions I dont use.

I used the varieties listed because 1. I have 100s of seeds and 2. They are some of my favs. I hope some other members jump in.
You really should try Donskoi. It is far more juicy than Wes and has a much more balanced flavor to me. I considered it a stingy producer until I started grafting but once I grafted it production increased tremendously. It has the flavor of some of the really good large pink or red beefsteaks with the added meat of a large heart. It is now the only heart I grow because of the flavor. I still get a few around 2 lbs each year but most are between a pound and a pound and a half until late in the season when they will get smaller. It also sets well in the heat.

Bill
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Old January 18, 2017   #7
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Oh I plan to Bill but I have limited seeds for it so I wanted to wait till I practice with some of the varieties I have a lot of seeds for. I'm going to try grafting a few Spudakee, Donskoi, and Lucid Gem as well.
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Old January 18, 2017   #8
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Originally Posted by BigVanVader View Post
Oh I plan to Bill but I have limited seeds for it so I wanted to wait till I practice with some of the varieties I have a lot of seeds for. I'm going to try grafting a few Spudakee, Donskoi, and Lucid Gem as well.
I have plenty of seed if you need them just let me know. While Donskoi does set some fruit once it gets really hot it is one that does better set out early to take advantage of the nice spring weather. Spudakee usually does quite well planted later but if you want some really big fruit off of either planting early will help.

Bill
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Old January 18, 2017   #9
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I will be watching this thread with great interest. Fortunately for me a lot of you will be starting a month or so earlier than I will so I can get some good tips. Good luck all.
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Old January 18, 2017   #10
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I have tried both and found a compromise in the middle that works better for me. I rip off most of the roots of the rootstock before grafting. When I make my grafting cut I lay the scion and root stock side by side and match the stems and make a diagonal cut through both at the same time then clip them together with a silicon clip. I then fill a small Styrofoam coffee cup with medium grain DE then give it a drink to wet the DE and let it drain. Then I take my finger or a pencil and make a hole then set the grafted plant in it and push the DE back against the stem at just slightly deeper than the original depth and then put some dry medium grain DE around the stem so it is supported better and isn't in contact with the wet DE. After potting it into the DE I hold it up to a bright light to make sure the stems are perfectly matched. Doing this will save you a lot of heartache and you will be surprised how many times you see the light coming through where they are joined meaning it isn't a clean meeting of the two stems.

Before I make my cut I trim most of the top off the scion because if it wilts too much the heavy weight of the leaves can cause the juncture of the graft to pull apart. I just leave a very small amount of foliage on the scion. I then place it in a plastic clear tote that can be closed and put it in a place where it is cool and leave it for two days. I then open it wide and let air in it for about 5 minutes then close it back and repeat this for a couple of days increasing the number of times I let in air. After 5 to 7 days from starting I leave the top cracked for another day or two then just totally remove the top and water the plants with a mild solution of liquid fertilizer. There will still be some wilting and some may fail but with time most of them will perk up and can be moved into more direct sunlight at that time. I never put mine in total darkness but do make sure they are well shaded for at least the first few days after grafting.

Once they are growing good I repot them in potting soil and place a skewer beside each one to make sure they don't fall over. I then gradually move them back into direct sunlight and after a few days expose them to wind. I do not remove the grafting clips until the day or two before planting if they look totally healed or I just let the growing plant pop it off. When I set them out in the garden they are well hardened off because of the length of time I wait before setting them out but I still clip them to my support string immediately to prevent wind from shearing them off at the graft juncture. It takes longer than you might think before that healed juncture is strong enough to withstand strong winds without some of them breaking apart. I learned the hard way that it is better to wait an extra week or two than rush setting out grafted plants too early in the spring weather.

From the look of my seedlings I will be starting my grafting in a week or two. I will start with the largest and do as many as are large enough to graft then wait a few days and do more when an adequate number are ready. I always start a new healing chamber for each batch. I also label the date so I know how long they have been in the chamber. I have found the longer you can leave them in the chambers the better as long as you don't have problems with too damp conditions starting damping off type problems. I only mist the top lid before closing the chamber and keep it closed between grafts so the plants are not exposed to the open any longer than possible after grafting. I will usually do two grafts put them in the chamber, close it then do two more til I run out of plants or fill the chamber which holds about 25. When I am ready to seal it I mist the top of the lid again and seal it.

The reason I use DE for starting seed and potting the grafted plants to go into the chamber is that using it instead of a potting mix greatly reduces the incidence of damping off of the stem either where it is going into the potting mix or at the graft juncture. It helps to reduce the amount of roots because it retards the root stock from sucking up too much moisture forcing the juncture to separate inside the clip. For that reason I try not to water my root stock for two days before grafting. You don't want them wilting but you don't want the root stock stem to be full of water either. On the scion I make sure they are well watered a few hours before grafting to lessen the wilting which will come while the juncture starts to heal.

I get the small DE for starting my seedlings at Auto Zone and the medium DE at O'Reilly auto parts. I dump the larger DE into a clean bucket for reuse when I go to repot them with potting soil to save a bit of money.

Since getting this technique down my success rate has been well over 90% overall but there will be times when for no reason that I can tell up to a third of them can fail. Before I went to using the DE and this system I would sometimes lose all but a couple of plants and rarely got better than 60% success. With all the time and effort grafting takes it is worth spending a little bit more on the DE. In areas where damping off isn't as common a problem as it is here it might not make as big a difference but it should allow you to leave the newly grafted plants in the healing chamber longer.

If it gets too hot and dry then the plants usually need more time to heal because of the lose of moisture from the scion which can slow the healing. If it is too cool that can also slow the healing. I find that somewhere that is comfortable for people works best for me so if it is too cold I move my healing chambers into the house or if it is too hot I set them on the floor of my tiny air conditioned greenhouse. If the temperature is moderate and it is raining every day with 100% humidity I open the lid and set my chambers on my porch and just leave the lids off unless the rain stops too soon. The plants seem to do great when that happens but that is not an ordinary circumstance but I have done it with several batches with near 100% success even when done the first day. If you do this and they start wilting badly you can always close them back up but it is rarely necessary.

Hope this helps you.

Bill

Bill, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to post this. I really do appreciate all of the instruction and I'm going to give your method a go.

For this new batch of seeds I planted in DE (not sure of the size...but cat litter size), which is the 'floor dri' from NAPA auto parts. I went to half a dozen places before I found it, so different grades aren't easy to come by in my area. Autozone and O'Reilly's only had montmorillonite clay. Anyway, my first round of grafting was done with extra grow plugs I had. I'm sure that was part of the problem. After using the DE, I see why it's so useful. The stuff stays moist for days.

I think another thing I did wrong was to graft too early. I've got 1.5mm silicone tube clips. The stems were technically the right size, but the clips didn't hold them well. I let some plants grow a bit and tried larger stems and it seemed to hold better. Is there a size that you tend to aim for? I've read that the 3-4 leaf stage is appropriate. I was there, but the stems were still small.

You mentioned misting the lid. Does this ever cause problems with dripping onto the plants and breaking the graft union? I noticed this was happening to my plants in the aquarium. My meter was reading 95% humidity and the condensation on the lid was dripping onto the plants. I thought about making some kind of 'tent' to keep the condensation off. I like your idea of clipping the leaves. I thought of doing this at first, but all of the videos I had watch had leafy scions. Your way makes more sense.

If I may ask, about what temperature do you think your plants graft best at? I keep reading that 80-85F is optimal. You have success at room temp (70ish), yes?

Also, how long would you say it takes from the day you make the grafts to the day the plants are ready for the garden (generally, ballpark)?

I thank you again, Bill. I really want to learn to do this and I'm willing to keep failing until I do.

Cheers,

Adam
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Old January 19, 2017   #11
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I'm about two months away from starting seeds myself, but it'll be good to see how those of you down south are doing as I wait.
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Old January 19, 2017   #12
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I use the cat litter size for seeds as well, it works fine. I will let Bill answer the rest since I'm a newb.
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Old January 19, 2017   #13
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Bill, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to post this. I really do appreciate all of the instruction and I'm going to give your method a go.

For this new batch of seeds I planted in DE (not sure of the size...but cat litter size), which is the 'floor dri' from NAPA auto parts. I went to half a dozen places before I found it, so different grades aren't easy to come by in my area. Autozone and O'Reilly's only had montmorillonite clay. Anyway, my first round of grafting was done with extra grow plugs I had. I'm sure that was part of the problem. After using the DE, I see why it's so useful. The stuff stays moist for days.

I think another thing I did wrong was to graft too early. I've got 1.5mm silicone tube clips. The stems were technically the right size, but the clips didn't hold them well. I let some plants grow a bit and tried larger stems and it seemed to hold better. Is there a size that you tend to aim for? I've read that the 3-4 leaf stage is appropriate. I was there, but the stems were still small.

You mentioned misting the lid. Does this ever cause problems with dripping onto the plants and breaking the graft union? I noticed this was happening to my plants in the aquarium. My meter was reading 95% humidity and the condensation on the lid was dripping onto the plants. I thought about making some kind of 'tent' to keep the condensation off. I like your idea of clipping the leaves. I thought of doing this at first, but all of the videos I had watch had leafy scions. Your way makes more sense.

If I may ask, about what temperature do you think your plants graft best at? I keep reading that 80-85F is optimal. You have success at room temp (70ish), yes?

Also, how long would you say it takes from the day you make the grafts to the day the plants are ready for the garden (generally, ballpark)?

I thank you again, Bill. I really want to learn to do this and I'm willing to keep failing until I do.

Cheers,

Adam
Adam, the coarse DE that I use is probably available other places but O'Reillys usually has it on hand but it can be ordered. Just ask them to get you a bag of it. Here is the catalogue link to the specific one I use. I think all the others they sell are of a finer grain.

http://www.oreillyauto.com/site/c/de...and+Search_MTA

The dripping from the top is probably from too much moisture in the cups the grafts are in and that is probably causing the separation also. That is why I pull off most of the roots of the root stock and let the coarse grain DE drain after charging it with a mild liquid fertilizer before planting the graft in it. It also helps if the root stock has not been over watered. That is why it is best to not water them for a day or two before grafting. The reverse is true for the scion which needs to be well watered not too long before grafting.

I always order a selection of silicon grafting clips from 1.5mm to 3mm. Grafting with the very small clips is difficult for me but I sometimes use them early on but the most common size I use is 2mm or 2.5mm followed by 3mm size. Here is a link to the site that I have found to be the most economical but then I do a lot of grafting. The larger 3+ sizes are not for tomato grafting
https://hydro-gardens.com/?s=tomato+grafting+clips

As to the best temperature I only know that too cold or too hot is not good. I find that setting the chambers in the house works really good but they don't get as much light and after 3 or 4 days I move them into the greenhouse or onto my screened back porch. I do know that my success rate usually falls some in the summer heat and I'm pretty sure it is because the chambers get too hot. It seems that if I am comfortable the plants in the healing chamber seem to do okay.

Bill
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Old January 19, 2017   #14
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One other thing about the DE. The coarse Optisorb is the one I use when potting the graft up. The reason it works best for that is it doesn't hold as much moisture or stay as wet as the finer grain stuff. I have used both for this purpose and the coarse grain allowed me much more success due to less moisture in the healing chamber. You want good humidity in the chamber but when it reaches a certain high level you get too much dripping. When I am opening the chamber to allow in air if I find the lid is fairly dry with little condensation I will spritz it again to help maintain the humidity in the chamber when it is closed.

One of the reasons I pot them into potting soil after they have healed and hardened a bit is that it is sometimes difficult to maintain a decent moisture level with the large grain DE and when it dries out too much it can actually suck moisture out of the plant and it doesn't support it well when it gets dry. Using the skewers before taking the plants outside can be critical because the plants will tend to fall over unless buried deep and that is something you don't want to do. You want as much root stock stem above the planting level as is possible so that when you set it out in the garden there is little if any chance of roots developing from the scion as that would negate all the hard work.

Bill
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Old January 19, 2017   #15
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Thank you again, Bill. I've seen skewers used with grafting cucurbits and thought it was a good idea for tomatoes, but didn't see it done in any of the tutorials. I'll trying taking it down a notch on the humidity this next round.

I'll post again in a couple/few weeks when my seedlings are close to size.

Cheers,

Adam
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