Experimental Homestead

Introduction to Frankentree Video



This is an introductory video I threw together to stoke people up on the idea of multigrafted trees.  Quite a few fruit collectors use this technique and, while Frankentree is a more extreme example, I increasingly think that multigrafted trees with 3 to 30 varieties or so will serve the average person with a few trees much better than single variety trees do.  Add to that the edifying character of the work, the increased involvement in one’s own food supply and the neato factor and it seems like a pretty easy sell, except for the intimidation factor.  I’d like to maybe think this out better and make a more refined version as well as a detailed video tutorial on some of the specific strategies and skills, but this will have to do for now.  The original Frankentree post has a little bit of information on grafting with pictures of a couple of different grafts.

October 11, 2014 - Posted by | Food Trees Fruits and Nuts, grafting | , , , ,


  1. Thanks for the video! Please add me to your email list. I don’t usually follow blogs, but I like yours a lot.

    For Lady Williams and other super late varieties, when do they flower?

    Comment by Cathy Suematsu | October 11, 2014 | Reply

    • I Don’t recall Lady Williams flowering at a weird time. I’ve used it as a breeding parent for other apples, so it must not be too unusual. The only one that has flowered and grown at odd times is Dorsett Golden, but it was bred in the tropics and requires zero chill. Things might be different with your lower chill though. Lady Williams is definitely a low chill, hot weather apple, coming from Australia. There are a group of similar apples that must share some genes. Jazz, Cripp’s Pink (trademarked as pink lady), sundowner, lady in red and lady williams. They all seem to have hard flesh (almost peculiarly), complex fruity flavors, and are late and solid keepers. Any of those might be worth a try there, though some may still be under patent and some of the names are trademark names. Lady Williams and Cripp’s Pink are definitely out of patent and I don’t think the name Lady Williams is trademarked. Don’t get me started on trademarks or I’ll type a chapter.

      Comment by Stevene | October 11, 2014 | Reply

  2. I have my trees planted (yesterday in fact for 6 apples, 2 pears and a plum) and I have my grafting knife (cheapy off eBay) and I have a freind with lots of fun varieties (mine are fun too so swapsies) but I have been too scared to try. Reading your comment about “don’t stress” is helping me build the confidence.
    Have you ever done or would you consider making a “how to graft” video? I know I’d watch it for sure and share the news with friends too. :)
    Wish we could get that red fleshed apple in Australia. Newlyn Antiques and Heritage Nursery, from where I source many of my trees has never heard of them. Oh, and that banana flavoured one, just for the novelty factor too. I also hate bananas. :)

    Comment by rabidlittlehippy | October 12, 2014 | Reply

    • I probably will make a grafting video, but I think there are good ones out there already, so I’m not that motivated. When I do a how-to frankentree video, I’ll definitely cover grafting. But, yeah, don’t stress out. It’s not that big of a deal if it doesn’t take. Just make some grafts into wood that doesn’t matter. Even cut off a shoot and graft it right back onto where it was growing for practice. If you are grafting into small wood that could be cut off anyway, there is no risk. Even when you really go for it, if a graft fails, there is usually a replacement shoot to graft to the following year. The first year I grafted frankentree, I had a high failure rate because I was using a difficult bark graft a lot, but everything worked out fine in the end. Go for it!

      There is a youtube video about a redfleshed apple in Tasmania. Maybe you can track that one down. More and more red fleshed apples are starting to come out of the woodwork. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRzOqZn7hDI And it looks like some of Markus Kobelt’s redlove apples are in australia too, or will be soon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBnmY2O199M

      Comment by Stevene | October 12, 2014 | Reply

      • Thanks heaps Steven. Much to look into and chase up! :D How awesome it would be to give my kids an apple each and watch their reaction to biting into it and finding out it looks like it’s bleeding! ;) And offering it to strangers too. He he he ;)

        Comment by rabidlittlehippy | October 12, 2014

      • The red flesh line that Albert Etter bred was from an apple called surprise. Aptly named. People really love those blood apples. They’ll overlook the fact that they aren’t perfect in every other respect, just because they are red inside. It is fun to watch people eat them the first time. They’re coming to markets soon. My guess is that the first wave won’t be the best apples ever, but I’m sure they’ll get better.

        Comment by Stevene | October 12, 2014

      • Novelty factor will ensure sales will be VERY high! Taste simply won’t matter. Just the colour. However, IMO if it is even 1 more variety out there in the monoculture of Granny Smith apples and a few red ones… How much have we lost from industrial agriculture and monocropping.?!

        Comment by rabidlittlehippy | October 12, 2014

  3. Excellent! I just posted this video over at TheBrilliantHomestead.com. Nice to see the tree in detail.

    I’ve been rather obsessed with grafting lately – I’m about to try grafting some Pineapple and Orient scions onto my Hood pear out in the food forest. We don’t have a wider variety of pears down here in Florida but I’m doing my best to collect every type that may work.

    Comment by Survival Gardener AKA David The Good | January 8, 2015 | Reply

    • Thanks for the link David! Did you ever try grafting your loquat? I haven’t done mine, but I want to. I know they are supposed to be pushing already in the spring when you graft them, but that’s about all I know. I really want a frankenloquat though. There are big differences in fruit size and quality and I’m hoping to get a longer season. I can only use so many all at once.

      Comment by Stevene | January 9, 2015 | Reply

      • Yes – I grafted multiple loquats last spring. Good success on the early ones. Then, later in the year, a friend nailed one of my seedling types (which was a cross between good fruiting varieties, making it precious to me) with a string trimmer, completely girdling it. The tree was 8′ tall. I tried bridge grafting it but it started to die a month later. That was in the heat of summer. I cut about 20 scions off the top and grafted them all around my other trees. Only about a quarter took, but that saved the genetics. It was hot, the scion wood was in full growth… then in wilt… and we still had some success.

        Here’s the post I wrote on it: http://www.floridasurvivalgardening.com/2014/09/grafting-loquats.html

        I didn’t think you could grow loquats in your area, since I can barely grow apples here. How bad does it freeze there?

        Comment by Survival Gardener AKA David The Good | January 10, 2015

  4. I can grow them here no problem. They are actually pretty hardy. I haven’t determined what the fruit and flowers can take cold wise yet, but I had fruit the past two years. I believe that they can be grown up into the NorthWest. We have temps around and below 20 sometimes, but cold isn’t just cold. People rely too much on temperature as a supposed objective measure, but I’ve observed that it is much more complicated. I’ve taken readings at 2 feet above the ground v.s. on the ground and it can be several degrees difference. I’ve also walked all over the property getting similar readings in spite of obvious differences in amounts of standing frost and damage to plants. I think at the very least, the length of time things stay cold, which varies a lot with terrain is important, but there just must be even more going on. My Loquat trees are in a river of cold air, but the air is moving. Anyway, tree survival is certainly no issue here for feijoa and loquat, and I can see already that I’ll get fruit at least some years, and they should be more protected the larger the trees get. How long does your loquat season span down there with various varieties growing?

    Comment by Stevene | January 10, 2015 | Reply

    • Yes – it’s not all about temperature. It’s about timing, slope, etc. Avocados in Chile are grown in regions that frost; however, they’re on the sides of hills so the cold air simply flows past rather than damaging the trees.

      Our ground is pretty flat here – there’s not much protection. About every year or two, folks lose their loquat crops since the blooms are much less hardy than the tree itself. The winter timing of bloom is a problem.

      Another issue: we don’t have much in the way of improved varieties to mess with. They’re very hard to find. My bet is that 999 out of 1000 loquat trees around here are just seedlings. It’s considered a landscaping tree, rather than a fruit tree.

      My first-planted trees are just coming into production. I have about 20 trees here and there but they’re almost all seedlings. I need to find scion wood and graft them this spring.

      Comment by Survival Gardener AKA David The Good | January 12, 2015 | Reply

      • I just checked my bloom and there are fruit set that look fine. That in spite of multiple freezes that even killed back some of my Amaryllis nearby, but in a flatter area. I remember similar cold snap, but longer, happening last year as well. But the fruit/flowers are up off the ground. There is a river of cold air that passes right through there from a bare strip running up a steep hill. You can feel it when you walk through that area. It passes over the loquats and runs right through my garden area where it slows down. It is possible to grow Avocado here apparently, Mexicola types I think, but consensus seems to be that they will not fruit due to winter frost.

        Comment by Stevene | January 12, 2015

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