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On Friday some friends and I tapped maples and grafted walnuts. Grafting is a good way to improve the food-value of trees, by creating a tree or shrub with a strong and hardy root-stock and with a topstock that will produce juicy and delicious fruit and nuts. You can see grafts toward the bottom of many urban ornamental trees.


I am tapping two maple trees in my backyard, two of my neighbour's trees and six trees from a generous friend on the Bedford highway. In a week we have gathered a half-gallon of sap. It is my hope to boil it down enough to make wine, which should take less time and energy than it would take to boil it down to the point of being syrup. Any maple can be tapped, as can birches and sycamore. Sugar maples will provide you with the highest sugar-per-sap ratio at 1:40 sugar:water, compared to other maples who have a ratio of 1:45 sugar:water. I am mostly tapping Norway maples, which is much of what has been planted by the city.

My neigbour allowed me to tap her maple trees in exchange for maple mead

The friends who helped me tap in were able to help graft Carpathian walnut scion to black walnut rootstock. This is in the hopes that the Carpathian parts will thrive and produce nuts that are larger and more easily removed from the husk.

Now is the ideal time to start grafting, while the snow is beginning to melt. Traditionally the scion wood (the part you are adding) is removed from the parent-plant around this time, kept in a cool area until the rootstock has advanced in its spring flush. This way, the root stock is more vigorous than the scion wood, and is able to push sap into it vigorously.

We however grafted the wood the same day it was obtained. We used the saddle-graft, where one piece is sharpened on both sides and the other wood has a triangle-shaped chunk carved out of it. In grafting it is very important that the layers of living wood match up between the rootstock and scion, so that water and nutrients can continue to be sent through the graft to the living tissue of both host and graft. This keeps the graft alive.

A successful saddle graft

This walnut tree is at the Common Roots Urban Farm at the intersection of Robie and Bell road. Please feel free to check back at the Common Roots Food Forest to see how these grafts progress! We left plenty of Black walnut branches to survive and feed the tree if these grafts don't make it. If the grafts take well, we will trim back the non-grafted branches to maximize energy to the Carpathian limbs. More walnuts will be grafted at a secret location, and those that survive will be moved to more public food forests.


Here is a good resource if you would like to graft your own walnuts:

More good information on grafting can be found at Stephen Hayesuk's youtube channel
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