HARTFORD — The Hartford Recreation Committee is planning two hands-on workshops to demonstrate propagation of apple varieties that can be grown without synthetic chemicals (organically).

The first session will be held from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 26, in the town hall.

The topic will be bench grafting, where small dormant pieces (scions) from a desirable apple tree are incorporated into a dormant rootstock and preserved until the weather is suitable for planting.

There is no charge for the workshops, but rootstocks cost $5 each. However, participants may dig their own if the soil is not too frozen and the tree is small enough to put into a pot with enough roots to be viable.

Those who wish to purchase dormant bare-rooted rootstocks should call Elizabeth before Saturday, Feb. 20, at 207-388-2860 to reserve them at $5 each.

The committee has collected several hundred scions from local apples such as Baldwin, Black Oxford, Yellow Transparent, Calville Blanc d’Hiver, NJ Black, Honey Crisp, Red Northern Spy, all available free.

Those who wish to bring other varieties may do so. Cut small twigs 2 to 10 inches long, from the tips of branches where the wood is one year old and has few if any prominent buds.

Keep the scions in double plastic bags with a damp paper towel, stored under a pile of snow or in the refrigerator, but not in a freezer.

The second workshop will be at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 23 , with a rain date of 1 p.m. Sunday, April 24.

Attendees will be topworking established apple trees, ranging from 10 to 75 years of age, in several locations around Hartford. Converting a large apple tree will require many scions, in contrast to bench grafting, which involves one scion a tree.

The committee has the necessary grafting compound. Bring a knife if it is sharp enough to cut the hairs on the arm.


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