Grafting: The good, the bad and the very, very wrong. Part Two: Veg

In Part One, we looked at fruit grafting, where decent varieties of, say, apple are grafted onto root stocks that will keep them in check and stop them going crazy.

In this part, we’ll look at the relatively recent trend for grafting vegetables, which is usually taken on for the exact opposite reasons. It’s not all good, but when it is, it’s great.

There is still time to buy, as they don’t get sent out until April.

As new varieties of veg are created, they often taste nicer and look better – but they sacrifice strength in the process. The best tasting tomatoes, for example, are frankly weedy.

So horticultural boffins started grafting yummy tomato plants onto very strong but indifferent-tasting roots. All the vigour of the roots goes into the plant, but it still keeps its flavour.

These tomatoes crop so heavily I have to create special supports for them

If it’s fiddly to graft a tree, imagine grafting a wabby little root onto an even wabbier seedling. It CAN be done at home using little clips but I don’t know anyone who does it.

Instead it’s done by very patient people incommercial nurseries who, this time of year, make thousands of tiny little plants, which they grow on until about April, when lazy sods like me purchase them and grow them like they’re our own creations.

They make tough little plants which, although not as cheap as buying from seed, make up for the price in sheer amount of harvest.

You can buy all sorts of grafted plants; often salad – for example, cucumbers, aubergines, tomatoes, peppers and chillies. I always buy three tomato plants of the ‘Crimson Crush’ variety from Suttons.*

The graft point is about an inch from the soil line

I don’t usually get aubergines or peppers because they need a lot of heat and I can’t get to the allotment to water them in my min greenhouse. Of course with the current events I rather wish I had got some this year because I will be up at the plot most days after all…

The grafted plant will thank you for a good soak before being planted into a smallish pot.

Cucumbers are great to grow, either from seed or grafted – though they are VERY prolific. You’ll be cropping faster than you can eat them.

Then there are the weirdos. Some companies started putting together two different kinds of veg – for example tomatoes and potatoes or even aubergines and spuds. The theory’s good – both species come from the same Solanum family, so it sort of made sense to use the soil for potatoes and the upper plant for tomatoes. Trouble was, they needed strong varieties of each – and the strongest isn’t always best. In my trials I found reduced crops of two very indifferent veg. Steer clear.

*I am, by the way, aware that I need to flag up any posts where I’m getting freebies from a company as ‘sponsored’. This one isn’t. I actually buy this product because I think it’s good.

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