FRUIT GRAFTERS SAVE 9HEIRLOOM APPLE TREES(by Monty Carlson)
SANDWICH—“I wasn’t going to let those Dushane’s go towaste,” Barbara Pries said emphatically.
Pries and a dozen other Sandwich residents learned how tograft apples last week. Together they savednine old, unidentified apple trees, grafting their twigs onto about 40 new rootstock trees.
The project, sponsored by the Sandwich AgriculturalCommittee, may help conserve a few of the hundreds of lost heirloom apples thatonce grew in orchards and dooryards across New England.
“We don’t know the names of these apples but we know they’redelicious,” said Martha Carlson who hosted the workshop at Range View Farm.
The project began in February when Maggie Constantineinvited the Sandwich Agricultural Commssion to take cuttings from a twisted oldtree at Image Hill, an historic dance hall in Lower Corners. Though the tree is riven with heart rot, itproduces crisp red tasty apples every fall.
John Pries, another Commission member, suggested that theCommission graft that tree and others.
"There is a long history of apple production inSandwich,” Pries said. “A lot ofvarieties were grown that modern consumers have never been exposed to. There might be economic, as well as cultural benefits to renewing this uniqueresource."
Julie Dolan offered the project a second variety, a verylarge red sauce apple that grows in her North Sandwich orchard. Chris Boldt brought cuttings from a thirdSandwich tree that is possibly a Grimes Golden.
“That’s the granddaddy of the modern Golden Delicious,”Boldt said.
Carlson and her husband Rudy brought another six collectionof twigs from Vinalhaven, an island off the coast of Maine. Those varieties ranged from tiny red andyellow apples to a brownish flat russet to a gigantic yellow apple.
The grafters named their mystery apples after the locationswhere each was found, including a Maine apple from Dushane’s Quarry.
“That was the best apple. It looked like a Black Oxford on the outside but it was white with redveins rather than yellow on the inside,” Carlson said.
The apple grafters took their grafted trees home to plant innursery beds. If the grafts take, theyoung trees will be large enough to plant in permanent locations in about twoyears. In about 10 years, the trees shouldbegin producing apples, apples that are identical to the twig source.
“Then we’ll get an apple expert to come to Sandwich and helpidentify them,” Carlson said.
The Agricultural Commission hopes this first workshop willprompt other town residents to find and report old apple trees that are of highquality and worth propagating.
“This fall, we hope everyone in Sandwich will take a biteout of a mystery apple,” Carlsonsaid.
From left,Maggie Constantine, Boone Porter and Martha Carlson examine scions, or twigs,from an heirloom apple. (Photo, John Pries)
Holly Cook and Chris Boldt examine anothertwig. (Photo, John Pries).
Barry Rock showed the grafters how toattach single buds to planted root stock.
Holly Cook works on a graft.