Grafting Edible Plants in Your Vegetable Garden

If you are a keen and experienced gardener, looking to try something new and improve yields in your garden, you might like to try grafting edible plants in your vegetable garden. As you may be aware, fruit trees are often grafted onto rootstocks to affect vigour and size. Interestingly, grafting plants in your vegetable garden could also bring benefits.

Which Plants Could Be Grafted?

Plants common to grow your own gardens that could be grafted include:

  • tomatoes
  • chillies
  • sweet peppers
  • cucumbers
  • melons
  • squashes.

Rootstocks for tomatoes and other Solanaceae are tomato F1 Aegis and Estamino F1.

The most common rootstock for Curcurbitaceae that is available to home gardeners is 'Triumph'.

Why Grafting Edible Plants in Your Vegetable Garden Might be a Good Idea

Grafting edible plants such as those mentioned above could be beneficial in a range of ways. It can:

  • Increase the vigour of the plants.
  • To improve resistance to low temperatures.
  • Provide better resistance to soil borne pests and diseases.
  • Make it possible to grow plants in the same place year after year. (Useful in a greenhouse or polytunnel bed, for example, where crop rotation is challenging to practice.)
  • The potential for earlier, heavier crops from certain plants (such as tomatoes).

When to Graft

Rootstocks and scions should be sown from seed in the late winter or spring. (Scions and rootstocks will grow at different speeds and so it is important to consult suppliers for exact sowing requirements.)

Plants are ready for grafting when they are at least 10cm tall and have a good stem. Ideally, both rootstock and scion plants should have stems of similar thickness and size.

How to Graft

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before working with the plants.
  • Gather the things you will need: a very sharp, sterilised scalpel or razor blade, grafting clips or Sellotape, a clear plastic bag or propagator.
  • (For wedge grafting) Cut off the upper portion of the rootstock plant and make a vertical slit up to 1cm long in the top of the stem of the lower portion.
  • Cut off the lower portion of the scion plant. Cut the base of the upper portion of the scion plant into a V shape.
  • Insert the scion upper portion into the slit in the rootstock lower portion.
  • Secure the two halves with a grafting clip or Sellotape.
  • Straight away, cover the grafted plant with a plastic bag or propagator and keep it at 15-19 degrees C, out of direct sunlight.
  • Each day, uncover to air your grafted plant and water to keep moist but not wet.
  • Once the graft union has calloused and your plant is growing strongly (which should take around 2-3 weeks), remove all grafting clips or Sellotape.

There are other methods for grafting but this is usually the easiest one for home gardeners to begin by trying. So if you are looking for a challenge and want to reach the next level in home growing,why not give it a go?