Thursday, January 27, 2011

Scion Exchange = Excited Bearded Men

Yes yes yes! (I'm excited.) Spring is already coming to the East bay (in January!), and I eat my cereal in the yard staring in fine detail at the newly scalped trees. I'm starting to "make the rounds" a couple times a day, checking grafts and the progress of the buds.

Jori and I have already completed the winter pruning of the plum trees, and they're very reduced at this point. This is the third winter that I've been working on changing the non-producing volunteer plum trees of Mariposa Grove (7 of them) into yummy plum trees bursting with dozens of varieties. The next post will be about the actual grafting. This post is about the Scion Exchange! It was held last weekend by the Golden Gate Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Grower's Association. For those of you wondering, a scion is a 1yr old twig that is used in grafting to propagate one variety of plant on another variety's roots or trunk. In our case we're putting tasty plums on not-so-tasty plums. I went to the Exchange last year too, and since then I've been telling everyone about it.

This is how I describe it: "Hundreds of bearded men acting like kids in a candy store." Me and my beard were anticipating it for months! It's just that exciting. There's lots of jostling and searching. It's frenzied, short-lived, single-minded, overwhelming. The only difference really is that we're gathering twigs, not candy. The beards make it festive, but to be fair, there are ladies too.

Jori (the friend I went with, mentioned above, is on the left in the picture - note the beard).

Before heading to the exchange, we took inventory of the varieties we have on these trees from the last 2 years. Tho we've only tasted two of the new varieties so far, we've got 21 varieties on the 7 trees. Yippee! We should have a longer plum season this year. I'm not counting on a lot of fruit, but we will see a lot of variety. Of the 2 varieties that came in last year, we liked the Inca, but the Beauty, while good, was not as good as the Santa Rosa that we get a lot of fruit from already. I can't wait to taste all the new ones this year.

Thoughts I had about the Exchange this year: I'm starting to recognize more people. Not a lot, but a few. It's nice. I also notice that this is a bit of an obsessive hobby. When you're faced with hundreds of varieties, it's easy to go crazy and get the "more! more! more!" going on. Soon we'll be out of space on our trees so I'll have to slow down or start grafting in the medians. Hahaha. There are lots of volunteer plums around here that could be producing fruit!

What else can you expect from a Scion Exchange? It's very down-home. This year it was held in a church meeting hall. Last year it was in an elementary school gym. That's all fine and good, but it's not for everyone. Betsy, the other friend I went with (not picured - she doesn't have a beard), made the comment that it smelled of bad breath after a while. I thought it smelled like broccoli. But that's not why you go. It's beside the point, really. These little sticks promise much goodness to come.

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