Apple grafting requires knowledge, skill and patience. And like all worthwhile skills, it’s best to do some study. Any special techniques that you can learn from an expert helps. And that sums up the study guide for the apple grafting session held at the Austin Dam for the Project Based Learning students from the Austin Area High School. Sean McKeone from McKeone Orchard & Nursery in North Hollow led the group activities which resulted in 14 heritage apple trees being grafted to benefit the Austin Dam Apple Tuck and Heritage Orchard. Sean’s main point, “Paying attention on little details increases the chance of success on the grafting”.
Here’s a list of apple scion wood (grafting sticks) grafted onto rootstock during the activities: Rusty Coat, Maiden Blush, Chenango Strawberry, Twenty-ounce, Early Joe, Sweet Caroline, Yellow Bellflower and Tioga. Of local interest were the following heritage varieties; Seneca Portage, Cora Brooks, Indian Creek and Pliny the Magnificent. Scions of special interest included the Flower of Kent (the Sir Isaac Newton apple) and the Johnny Appleseed tree from Nova Ohio.
In the Austin Dam Apple Tuck, there now grows a piece of scion wood that is a descendant of the Flower of Kent which grew in Isaac Newton’s garden at Cambridge. Erroneously shown with an apple of the “Red Delicious” variety, Newton’s apple is actually a green cooking apple. In the Austin Dam Apple Tuck, Sean removed the top on a Red Delicious rootstock seedling to graft Newton’s apple. So in a way, this graft symbolically straightens out some incorrect apple history.
In case you were wondering – yes, there was a Johnny Appleseed. And the last known living apple tree planted by John Chapman, or Johnny Appleseed, still produces a good crop of tart, red-striped apples each fall. Growing on the farm of Dick and Phyllis Algeo near Nova, Ohio, the 170-year-old tree has long been a proud member of the family, which still has four generations living on the farm.
In the early 19th century, Chapman, by trade a nurseryman, wandered throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana planting apple trees, as well as mediating between white settlers and Native Americans and spreading an appreciation for nature. And from that tree in Nova, Ohio, the living legacy of famed orchard man John Chapman now grows as scion wood in the Austin Dam Apple Tuck.