Forest Peace Farm, Hainault, Redbridge 22nd March. This turned out to be a refreshing wake-up call to how community projects really work. Behind the immaculate site design is a body of hardworking individuals who make the place work. They have a string of events throughout the year, helping assylum seekers who, some can barely speak the lingo, share a common language through gardening. When I arrived there was nobody there, despite being late. And people drifted in during the day. It hadn't occurred to me that this was their equinox celebration. The great fire at the end was postponed in lieu of a greater turnout. But my experience with the crew was very enjoyable. This place is worth a visit at least once a year for all those hardened eco-trekkers. This superb project develops organically, and every year I go there something else gets added, like a cell multiplying itself. This time it was the array of well-built compost bins with other incomplete structures lurking in the background. This includes live-willow, ponds and shelters.
So I turned up with my grafting kits, Stanley knives, wax, self-destructing tape and lots of rootstocks. It turned out that they had also provided their own, and a whole bunch of cuttings mainly of Ashmead Kernal. Apparently this is a locally produced variety with a taste as good as it deserves. Now, the Autumn period for grafting I think I have perfected, around the 14th of October. But due to varying circumstances I had never tried the equinox in Spring. I find grafting takes a while to accomplish but slowly in one's travels I see what others are doing. There is no doubt that the best method is to cut the scion (a one-year pruning from the cultivar) by drawing the blade towards your body. Most people find this unnatural but the cut is better and the hands are unlikely to allow any accidents even if one is a little clumsy. The blade must under all circumstances be sharp. I will update the Gardening page in due course maybe with some photos to illustrate this. In the meantime go to Evelyn Community Gardens on-line photo portfolio.
Under these circumstances I could barely concentrate on doing too many grafts at one time, due to new people arriving all the time, but by the end of the day we had some time to ourselves to graft up everything left. I even went around the native perimeter hedging to graft straight onto the hawthorn and Blackthorn. The results of these exercises confirmed my experimental approach. Apparently they had better success than I do, which may be a factor of the time in the year, and secondly, quite established shrubs need to be cut right down to below head height in order to get the scion to take.