Cutting the rootstock just below the cotyledons

Inserting the scion stem into the grafting clip.

The first few grafted plants: 'Beaufort' rootstocks, 'Pineapple' scions.

While I do not have anywhere near the number I need for distribution, I find that I have several scions and rootstock stems that are close enough in diameter to make grafting worthwhile.  There was only enough time today for me to make a few grafts, but I will do a bunch more tomorrow and Sunday.

After grafting, the roots were watered, and the plants were misted lightly to prevent the scions drying out. Clear plastic domes (also misted inside) were placed over the plants, and they are now in the healing chamber, in total darkness, where they will stay for three or four days while the grafts (I hope!) take.

I am grateful to Richard Blakey at Paramount Seeds for rush-shipping fresh Maxifort rootstock seed to me. This will allow me to get my second batch of rootstocks started, to be followed in a few days by the second batch of heirloom scions.

My hoophouse and seed germination room are filled to overflowing with about 2,000 tomato seedlings, all at slightly different stages of development. Sadly, most of the rootstocks will get trashed — only those for which I can find suitably-sized scions will survive. The heirloom seedlings will get grown out for sale at the farm and elsewhere.

Over the next few days I will move most seedlings into my small hoophouse to make room for the second batch. My larger hoophouse has heat mats, so when the plants make the move they will be subjected, for the first time in their young lives, to large day-to-night temperature swings. This might slow them down a bit, but that’s probably not a bad thing.

Thanks also to Deborah Aiza for the photographs, and the encouragement.