The mulberry tree (Morus nigra) in my front-yard food forest has proven to be a less-than-exciting variety. Here it is:
It makes decent fruit but they’re not all that big and they’re not nearly as prolific as my “Illinois Everbearing” tree out back.
However, the tree has grown well for the last four years and has some good roots beneath it at this point so there’s no way I’m taking it out.
Instead, I’ve decided to multi-graft it with more exciting varieties.
I started this project on Wednesday of this week.
First, I decided to take off the top of the tree. It was getting too tall for easy harvesting.
Then I took off some of the branches that were growing too close to the ground.
Once the tree was cleaned up a bit, it was time to start grafting. I picked a good branch for my first graft and made a cleft in the middle with my trusty Leatherman:
Then I sharpened up a couple of scions of “6th Street,” a prolific black variety. When they were trimmed nicely, I popped the first one in.
You need to put them in carefully so you don’t snap the long, thin wedge. Using the blade of a knife helps.
After that, I added the second one.
Next I tied it up tightly to pull the cambium layers together.
Your main enemy when grafting a mulberry tree (or anything else) is having the graft dry out, killing the scion before it can join to the root stock. This is why you wrap it up tightly or paint the wound with tree sealer. Or both. In this case, I wrapped everything with parafilm.
And here’s the final graft, labeled with an aluminum tag:
I also added a few scions of “Saharanpor Local Mulberry,” a long-fruited white type, to another branch on the tree, this time using “whip and tongue” grafts to match like-sized wood.
Over time I’m going to keep adding varieties to this tree. Since my space is limited, I can just use this tree as a source of propagative material for my nursery as well as for fruit. Instead of planting all the varieties of mulberry I carry, I can graft on branches and later use them for cuttings I can add to the mist house.
Of course, there’s really no reason at all for doing the following… except for SCIENCE!
What is that graft, you say?
It’s a Brown Turkey fig I whip-and-tongued onto this black mulberry.
Will a fig on mulberry graft work? I have no idea, but the trees are cousins so I’m giving it a try. I got a really tight fit with that graft, then wrapped it up after the photo was taken. I think it would be crazy cool if I was able to grow figs on a mulberry tree…
The winter has been so warm I just couldn’t wait to start grafting. I’ve got quite a few experiments going and if any of them succeed I’ll be quite pleased.
Other than the mulberry, today I added nectarine, sweet cherry and plum grafts onto Chickasaw plum, sweet cherry and nectarine onto a Flatwoods plum, and sweet cherry onto a wild black cherry tree (Prunus serotina). I’m curious to see if they’ll take. All are cousins… so the chance is there.
I’ll keep you posted.