We are starting a seedling bed within our small forest garden. It will consist of apricot, peach, and plum pits, as well as walnuts and chestnuts.
So what exactly is a seedling tree?
Well, they are akin to you or I, a randomized genetic outcropping of two distinct parents.
Apples are perhaps the easiest way to understand fruit rearing. They elucidate the difference between the fruit of a seedling tree and ones that produce named types like a macoun.
Every apple you have ever purchased at the supermarket comes from a grafted tree.
If it’s a seedling apple you want, you’re best to shop at a roadside ditch somewhere, and try the fruit of a random apple tree –a volunteer in the parlance.–that has become entangled in bittersweet
That macoun though, from a grafted tree, is no longer a genetic singularity.
Instead, it is an intense curation, one created through the selection of traits and subsequent breeding of precursor trees over time (the macoun having been bred and released in the ‘20’s in New York state).
They are now a clone, a stable genetic sequence; the bellcow of large scale fruit production.
Their proliferation is continued by grafting, the remarkable process of joining that piece of an established macoun tree you pruned over the winter, with the young shoot of another seedling that has desirable vigor, hardiness and size. The latter is called rootstock, the former scion.
So why grow a seedling tree?
Well, seeds are free if you save them. That’s a great one.
You may also grow an apricot that produces prodigiously, has large fruit, and tastes splendid, or maybe wind up with one that is better suited to be grafted upon for its purchase in the natural world.
On our acreage here, our hope would be to one day graft onto these stocks, or leave them be, and have them available for our community.
So why not let the seed speak for itself – with luck, you may one day give the variety a name.
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