What are grafted trees

Grafted fruit trees

What is a grafted fruit tree? You may have heard the term but not really known what it means. Can’t you just grow a lemon, a plum or an apple from a seed? This story is especially for Daryl, who asked that question.

Let’s take a step back and start at how stuff is bred from seed. Walk with me through this…

>> Bred for strength <<

> Seeds will grow to be a mix of the DNA of parent plants, so where parents are the same species, the new plants will turn out mostly true to type (same as parent) πŸ™‚
>> Many fruit trees though have been in cultivation (grown by humans) for a long time, so different Variations (subspecies) have been bred to showcase different features. πŸ™‚ The best features of strong breeding in fruit trees are disease resistance, climate adaptability and size specs.
>>>Breeding is a slow process though, to grow and wait to see what develops, generation after generation. πŸ˜•

A tough wild citrus from seed is a real survivor – but frankly likely tastes like crap.

>> Cloned for taste <<

> Every now and again, a chance seedling can produce a spank-me-silly-awesome fruit with amazing taste that everyone wants. πŸ™‚
>> but in many fruits, the chances of getting TWO like that, to breed from are ridiculously small πŸ˜•
>> So instead, we clone it, which is to grow by cuttings of the original, which all end up genetically IDENTICAL. πŸ™‚
>> but given these chance plants don’t have stable breeding, they are usually tasty but weak overall; beautiful but vulnerable, and that is no guarantee of survival.

Cloning the perfect lemon can produce an endless number of identical but vulnerable beauties.

>> Your cake fruit and eat it too <<

Thousands of years ago, people figured out that plants in the same family may well grow if joined. Pretty soon, the art of joining tough roots to tasty shoots was perfected. This is grafting.

The tasty shoots are called the SCION; the tough roots are the ROOTSTOCK.
They are joined at the graft UNION.

>> So, can I grow a lemon from seed? <<

Yes. It will however be a SIBLING of the original scion plant, not a CLONE, so you may or may not get what you expect. It can be fun to try though πŸ˜€

>> How best to grow a grafted tree <<

  • Promptly cut off any shoots that grow from the rootstock, from below the union. That rootstock is tough and bullish and any shoots will quickly take over, starving the scion of energy and will kill it off πŸ˜•
  • Don’t allow soil, mulch or water to sit on or around the graft union, as that encourages the rootstock plant to shoot and take over as well. Clear away any high mulch from the stem and be able to see the graft to check it routinely at a glance.
  • If the rootstock does shoot anyway, it may be a sign that the scion is unwell. Applying some seaweed solution in the watering for a while can help and keep on top of any pest attacks.
  • If you would like to give grafting a go yourself, it is not difficult, and quite fun. Here is a quick tutorial from Tino, at Gardening Australia.
  • Here also on the GA website is another story about choosing a grafted lemon in Australia.

Look wide; grow well, folks 🌿

Naked Citrus

I love Manadarins, but in the spirit of using everything I can that we grow, I have started peeling the yummy zest off my mandarins BEFORE I use and eat them. Naked citrus is just as useful, but we then have the peel to use as well. Seriously folks, you can’t un-know this.

Peel can be frozen for later. Totally love this for reducing food waste.

Whether you are eating citrus whole, juicing it or slicing it, there’s no reason not to peel first. It can still be used exactly as before, but naked. 🀭

peel your citrus before you use them
ta-daa – one naked mandarin – with pith but no peel.

That’s it – haha – short n zesty, but too good a tip not to share. We dry and mill the peel for flavouring, or freeze it and use it for all sorts of yummies, like citrus sugar!!

'no worries' marmalade cake

Marmalade ‘no-worries’ Cake

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Awesome but abundant jams and marmalades don’t ever die, they just make fabulous cakes.

Fresh fruit is great, but in a glut, they can inevitably end up as jam or marmalade. You can give it away, store it and eat it but even then, sometimes you have just had too much of a good thing and would prefer to use it up and move on to another flavour.

We use jams and marmalades as flavouring for home made yogurt, spread on biscuits, in gravies and marinades, and in cake. aaaaaaaw, cake.

You my recognise my favourite Rex jar (above) as looking very much like a Weck jar. That is because it is the same – just a different label but made by the same company. My Rex are older but all the parts fit both of course – they are identical in every way bar the name. You can still buy them in that vintage style label, which I love. Totally unnecessary of course but I love that I can still match the glass lids if they ever go south (which has happened once or twice over many years). The mixing can be by hand if you are keen, with an electric mixer, or in a Thermomix – my preferred these days.

..and here is my dead fav cake tin – Mastercraft loose base round 24cm (9″). I have the 8″ round and the Mastercraft 8 1/2″ square too, all of which take a beating with two teenage boys making cakes and me as well. The rule around here is that all food at home is free, and we don’t buy readymade so every recipe at our place must be teenager-friendly. They make stuff to take to school events – call me mean but I have never made stuff for ‘bring-a-plate’ events at school. The boys had to earn how to bake for themselves quick-sticks, even if it is just fairy bread! The younger lad makes slices and hedgehogs for mates’ birthdays and they LOVE it! Imagine a whole tray of slice for yourself. Instant legend status πŸ˜‰

[Feature Picture: Marmalade ‘no-worries’ cake on Villeroy & Boch plate (Switch Beach House Water collection) served with French fudge icecream]

Marmalade ‘no worries’ Cake

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marmalade cake with French caramel fudge ice cream
Cake. That's it – cake. Yum. If you need more reasons to make it, this recipe is super flexible and brilliant for using up the jam or marmalade you have sitting in the fridge. By flexible, we mean you can alter the sugar and the eggs and experiment a little without it going all wrong. See the variations for some ideas. Seriously folks, don't stress with this recipe. It is a good one to experiment with for structure and sweetness. Super forgiving and always yum.
Section: Cake, Dessert
Hero: citrus, jam
Features: Easy, jam, Vegetarian

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup marmalade or jam (flexible, anything 1/8 to 1/2 cup is fine)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (flexible, 1/2 to 3/4 cup is fine, white sugar okay too)
  • 125 grams butter (cubed for easy handling)
  • 2 eggs (2 to 3 eggs is fine, see notes)
  • 1 1/2 cups SR flour (or plain flour plus 3 tsp baking powder)
  • 1/4 cup milk (or a good 'slosh')

Instructions

  • Line or grease the tin and preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (340 F)
  • Mix all ingredients together and beat til it goes lighter in colour (15-20sec, speed 4 in TMX)
  • Spread into tin and bake for about 35 minutes. Watch it to be sure it's cooked through but not too browned, though it will colour up quite a bit given the brown sugar.
  • Test centre with a skewer – ready when it pulls out clean. Leave to cool then turn out on a wire rack. Go to town with toppings or use hot with sauce as a pud.

Notes

FEATURES: Flexible, freezable, forgiving
EQUIPMENT: Thermomix (TMX) or electric mixer or elbow grease, average size cake tin, whichever shape you like.
STORING: keeps on the bench in a cake tin for a few days, or in the freezer ready to pull out when the mood strikes for dessert.
VARIATIONS: The sugar provides sweetness and moisture. Brown sugar has more moisture, so it’ll end up more moist and fudgey; white sugar will make it a lighter crumb. The eggs give it structure – 2 eggs is fluffier, 3 eggs is more dense and great for toasting in the flat grill press. Oh my, with butter or cream.

Dust with icing sugar, make up a butter cream icing, or have with warm custard. Candied peel, walnuts or glacΓ© ginger goes well too. Experiment.  For an instant hot pud dessert, make it fudgey, heat in the microwave and put on a sauce or fruit coulis, either cold or hot. So versatile.

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