_To prepare Grafting-Clay._
Grafting-clay is prepared either from stiff yellow or blue clay, or from clayey loam or brick earth; in either case adding thereto about a fourth part of fresh horse dung, free from litter, and a portion of cut hay, mixing the whole well together and adding a little water; then let the whole be well beaten with a stick upon a floor or other hard substance, and as it becomes too dry apply more water, at every beating turning it over, and continue beating it well at top till it becomes flat and soft. This process must be repeated more or less according as the nature of the clay may require to render it ductile, and yet not so tough as to be apt to crack in dry weather.
Whip, or as it is sometimes called tongue grafting, is the most generally adopted in nurseries for propagating fruittrees. To effect this mode in the best style, the top of the stock and the extremity of the scions should be nearly of equal diameter. Hence this variety admits of being performed on smaller stocks than any other. It is called whip-grafting from the method of cutting the stock and scions sloping on one side so as to fit each other, and thus tied together in the manner of a whip-thong to the shaft or handle.
The scion and stock being cut off obliquely, at corresponding angles, as near as the operator can guess, then cut off the tip of the stock obliquely, or nearly horizontally, make now a slit nearly in the centre of the sloped face of the stock downwards and a similar one in the scion upwards. The tongue or wedge-like process forming the upper part of the sloping face of the scion, is then inserted downwards in the cleft of the stock, the inner barks of both being brought closely to unite on one side, so as not to be displaced in tying, which ought to be done immediately with a riband of brass, brought in a neat manner several times round the stock, and which is generally done from right to left, or in the course of the sun. The next operation is to clay the whole over an inch thick on every side from about half an inch or more below the bottom of the graft to an inch over the top of the stock, finishing the whole coat of clay in a kind of oval globular form, rather longways up and down, closing it effectually about the scion and every part, so as no light, wet, nor wind may penetrate, to prevent which is the whole intention of claying.
This is resorted to in the case of strong stocks, or in heading down and re-grafting old trees. The head of the stock or branch is first cut off obliquely, and then the sloped part is cut over horizontally near the middle of the slope, a cleft nearly two inches long is made with a stout knife or chisel in the crown downward, at right angles to the sloped part, taking care not to divide the pith. This cleft is kept open by the knife. The scion has its extremity for about an inch and a half, cut into the form of a wedge; it is left about the eighth of an inch thicker on the outer side, and brought to a fine edge on the inside. It is then inserted into the opening prepared for it, and the knife being withdrawn the stock closes firmly upon it.
This is another mode adopted for thick stocks, shortened branches, or headed down trees, It is sometimes called grafting in the bark or rind, from the scion being inserted between the bark and wood. This mode of grafting is performed with best effect somewhat later than the others, as the motion of the sap renders the bark and wood of the stock much more easily separated for the admission of the scions.
In performing this operation, first cut or saw off the head of the stock or branch horizontally or level, and pare the top smooth; then having the scions cut one side of each flat and somewhat sloping, an inch and a half long, forming a sort of shoulder at the top of the slope, to rest upon the crown of the stock; and then raise the rind of the stock with the ivory wedge forming the handle of the budding knife, so as to admit the scion between that and the wood two inches down, which done, place the scion with the cut side next the wood, thrusting it down far enough for the shoulder to rest upon the top of the stock; and in this manner may be put three, four, five or more scions in one large stock or branch. It is alleged as a disadvantage attending this method in exposed situations, that the ingrafted shoots for two or three years are liable to be blown out of the stock by violent winds; the only remedy for which is tying long rods to the body of the stock or branch, and tying up each scion and its shoots to one of the rods.
This method resembles whip grafting, but differs in being performed on the side of the stock, without bending down. It is practised on wall trees to fill up vacancies, and sometimes in order to have a variety of fruits upon the same tree. Having fixed upon those parts of the branches where wood is wanting to furnish the head or any part of the tree, then slope off the bark and a little of the wood, and cut the lower end of the scions to fit the part as nearly as possible,, then join them to the branch, and tie them with bass and clay them over.
This is performed by first cutting the top of the Stock into a wedge-like form,, and then splitting up the end of the scion and thinning off each half to a tongue-shape; it is then placed on the wedge embracing it on each side, and the inner barks are made to join on one side of the stock, as in cleft grafting. This is a very strong and handsome mode for standard trees, when grafted at the standard height. It is also desirable for orange-trees and rose-standards, as it makes a handsome finish, covering a part of the stock, which, by the other methods, long remains a black sear, and sometimes never becomes covered with bark. The stocks fur this purpose should not be much than the scions, or two scions may be inserted.
_Shoulder or Chink Grafting._
This is performed with a shoulder, and sometimes also with a stay at the bottom of the slope. It is chiefly used for ornamental trees, where the scion and stock are of the same size.
Root grafting is sometimes performed in nurseries on parts of the roots of removed trees, when the proper stocks are scarce; in which case the root of the white thorn has been resorted to as a stock both for the apple and pear. In general however, a piece of the root of the tree of the same genus is selected, well furnished with fibres, and a scion placed on it in any of' the ordinary ways for small stocks. Thus united, they are planted so deep as to cover the ball of clay, and leave only a few eyes of the scion above ground.
In a month after grafting it may be ascertained whether the scion has united with the stock by observing the progress of its buds, but, in general, it is not safe to remove the clay for three months or more, till the graft be completely cicatrized. The clay may generally be taken off in July or August, and at the same time the ligatures loosened where the scion seems to require more room to expand: a few weeks afterwards, when the parts have been thus partially inured to the air, and when there is no danger of the scion being blown off by winds, the whole of the ligatures may be removed.
_To choose Scions._
Scions are those shoots which, united with the stock, form the graft. They should be gathered several weeks before the season for grafting arrives, It is desirable that the sap of the stock should be in brisk motion at the time of grafting; but by this time the buds of the scion, if left on the parent tree, would be equally advanced, whereas the scions, being gathered early, the buds are kept buck, and ready only to swell out when placed on the stock. Scions of pears, plums and cherries, are collected in the end of January or beginning of February. They are kept at full length sunk in dry earth, and out of the reach of frost till wanted, which is sometimes from the middle of February to the middle of March. Scions of apples are collected any time in February, and put in from the middle to the end of March. In July grafting the scions are used as gathered.
_To choose Cuttings._
In respect to the choice of cuttings, those branches of trees and shrubs which are thrown out nearest the ground, and especially such as recline, or nearly so, on the earth's surface, have always the most tendency to produce roots. Even the brunches of resinous trees, which are extremely difficult to propagate by cuttings, when reclining on the ground, if accidentally or otherwise covered with earth in any part, will there throw out roots, and the extremity of the lateral shoot will assume the character of a main stem, as may be sometimes seen in the larch, spruce and silver fir.
The choice of cuttings then is to be made from the side shoots of plants rather than from their summits or main stems, and the strength and health of side shoots being equal, those nearest the ground should be preferred. The proper time for taking cuttings from the mother plant is when the sap is in full motion, in order that, in returning by the bask, it may form a callus or protruding ring of granular substance between the bark and wood, whence the roots proceed. As this callus or ring of spongy matter is generally best formed in ripened wood, the cutting, when taken from the mother plant, should contain a part of the former year, or in plants which grow twice a year, of the wood of the former growth, or in the case of plants which are continually growing, as most evergreen exotics, such wood as has begun to ripen or assume a brownish color. This is the true principle of the choice of cuttings as to time; but there are many sorts of trees, as willow, elder etc., the cuttings of which will grow almost at any season, and especially if removed from the mother plant in winter, when the sap is at rest.
These ought always to be cut across, with the smoothest and soundest section possible at an eye or joint. And as buds are in a more advanced state in wood somewhat ripened or fully formed than in forming wood, this section ought to be made in the wood of the growth of the preceding season; or as it were in the point between the two growths. It is a common practice to cut off the whole or a part of the leaves of cuttings, which is always attended with bad effects in evergreens, in which the leaves may be said to supply nourishment to the cutting till it can sustain itself. This is very obvious in the case of striking from buds, which, without a leaf attached, speedily rot and die. Leaves alone will even strike root, and form plants in some instances, and the same may be stated of certain flowers and fruits.
This is a mode of propagation by cuttings, and is adopted with plants having jointed tubular stems, as the dianthus tribe, and several of the grasses and the arundines may be propagated in this manner. When the shoot has nearly done growing, its extremity is to be separated at a part of the stem where it is nearly indurated or ripened. This operation is effected by holding the root end between the finger and thumb of one hand, below a pair of leaves, and with the other pulling the top part above the pair of leaves, so as to separate it from the root part of the stem at the socket, formed by the axillae of the leaves leaving the stem to remain with a tubular termination. These pipings are inserted without any further preparation in finely sifted earth to the depth of the first joint or pipe.
_To insert Cuttings._
Cuttings, if inserted in a mere mass of earth will hardly throw out roots, while, if inserted at the sides of the pots so as to touch the pot in their whole length, they seldom fail to become rooted plants. The art is, to place them to touch the bottom of the pot; they are then to be plunged in a bark or hot-bed and kept moist.
_To manage Cuttings._
No cutting requires to be planted deep, though the large ought to be inserted deeper than such as are small. In the case of evergreens the leaved should be kept from touching the soil, otherwise they will damp or rot off; and in the case of tubular-stalked plants, which are in general not very easily struck, owing to the water lodging in the tube and rotting the cutting, both ends may be advantageously inserted in the soil, and besides a greater certainty of success, two plants will be produced. Too much light, air, water, heat or cold, are alike injurious. To guard against these extremes in tender sorts, the means hitherto devised is that of inclosing an atmosphere over that cuttings by means of a hand or bell-glass, according to their delicacy. This preserves a uniform stillness and moisture of atmosphere. Immersing the pot in earth has a tendency to preserve a steady, uniform degree of moisture at the roots; and shading, or placating the cuttings if in the open air in a shady situation, prevents the bad effects of excess of light. The only method of regulating the heat is by double or single coverings of glass or mats, or both. A hand glass placed over a bell-glass will preserve, in a shady situation, a very constant degree of heat.
What the degree of heat ought to be is decided by the degree of heat requisite for the mother plant. Most species of the erica, dahlia, and geranium, strike better when supplied with rather more heat than is requisite for the growth of these plants in green-houses. The myrtle tribe and camellias require rather less: and in general a lesser portion of heat, and of everything else proper for plums, in their rooted and growing state, is the safest.
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