The Tree That Bethany Built

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Tree That Bethany Built
If Aretha Franklin can belt out a tune like The House That Jack Built (and boy can she ever), then I can most certainly tell you about "The Tree That Bethany Built." That tree -- the Flavor Finale Pluot planted in one corner of the Bird Back 40 -- is now a multi-studded pluot tree thanks to a co-worker in the State Senate named Bethany and her love for all things pluots.

What? Write about a lady other than the wife that is Venus? Shameful! But I've got to give credit where credit is due. Thanks to Bethany's efforts and gifts, the Flavor Finale pluot tree will now produce Dapple Dandy and Flavor Grenade pluots, to go along with the Flavor King and Flavor Queen pluot scions that I grafted to the Flavor Finale tree during my first attempt at grafting exactly two years ago this month.

Flavor Finale Pluots (Delicious)
Ever tried a pluot or two? You should. They are perhaps the most famous of the interspecific plum breeding efforts introduced by biologist Floyd Zaiger. A cross between a plum an apricot, they more closely resemble a plum and they happen to be one of the easiest trees to graft. I discovered this, quite by accident, during my first baby-steps at grafting attempts two years ago. I'm still not the best grafter in the world, but I'm a whiz with pluot trees, as are many others.

In other words, grafting pluots is like falling off a log. You can't possibly fail. Oh sure, one or two grafting attempts may not make it. That's to be expected. But after documented success on grafting scions to our Flavor Finale pluot tree -- and tasting the results of that success last summer -- I can proclaim that grafting pluots is nearly foolproof.

Flavor Grenade Graft to Flavor Finale Tree
In other words? If I can do this, you can do it too.

And, as luck would have it, the "Mother of All Grafting Celebrations" (Thank you Saddam Hussein) takes place this Sunday in Sacramento, when the Sacramento Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG) holds its annual "Scion Exchange." This yearly exchange takes place Sunday, January 19th at the Sacramento Cooperative Extension Center at 4145 Branch Center Road (near Highway 50 and Bradshaw Road exit). The fun starts at 10 AM and ends at 1 PM -- getting you home just in time for the start of Championship Football Sunday.

Not that I'm expecting my San Francisco 49ers to slap the Seattle SeaChickens upside the head silly. Because, I am. How can you not appreciate that Frank Gore run from the last meeting between these two? *Sniff* It brings a tear of joy to my eye.

Back to the point: The CRFG is open to all interested fruit enthusiasts. Never tried the process of grafting before? Well my friends -- now is the time to start. It's never too late to get busy. Because where there's a fruit tree -- there's a scion that fits it. And there's only one thing better than a tree full of fresh fruit: That would be a tree filled with two varieties of fresh fruit.

Sign Leading the Way to Scion Exchange
So, if you find yourself wild about walnuts, or plain nutty over nectarines, this is the weekend for you and every other fruit fanatic in the Sacramento area. It doesn't matter if you find yourself in a panic over plums or apricots make you anxious, because the scion exchange offers the cure to your ills.

And -- as for that very special Flavor Finale Pluot tree growing in the Bird Back 40? The Tree That Bethany Built finally holds a Flavor Grenade graft that promises to be the answers to all my ills. Why, you ask? You are the curious one, aren't you? Actually, pluots do just fine on their own, but they do even better with a second tree nearby. Not just any tree mind you, but a "pollinator" tree. In my case? The best pollinator for a Flavor Finale tree happens to be the Flavor Grenade Pluot. The best pollinator for the Flavor Grenade tree happens to be the Flavor Finale Pluot.

Handy Dandy Grafting Tool with Grafting Tape
So, what happens when you combine the two into one, plus offer other varieties like the Dapple Dandy, Flavor King and Flavor Queen? What happens is this: a summertime of fresh fruit ripening during all months and all phases. That's one tree and a summer's worth of different harvests.

Now you tell me: what could be better than that?

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