Quote of the week:

“They'd have to shoot me to get me back to Illnois."

~Abraham Lincoln upon going to WDC to become president

Sunday, August 10, 2008

How Do You Like Them Apples?

I was reading over on one of my favorite bloggers Dr. Mark, {http://mouseasthma.blogspot.com/2008/08/growing-tails-so-far-so-good.html } about his triumphs with his green thumbery. It reminded me of one of my successes from undergrad days in the pomology (tree fruits) class. One of our class exercises was to graft buds from ‘flavorful’ apples to a good root stock. The apple is in the Rosaceae (rose) family. One of the genetic traits for this plant family is that the ‘beautiful’ or favored flowers/fruit often have poor root stocks or systems that are highly susceptible to diseases and other injurious pests. (Kind of like inbred Royalty families). So, to remedy this, you get a good root (which usually has less favorable flowers/fruit) and you graft a stem/twig/bud from the desirable flower fruit onto that stock. Something else most people don’t know, apples are ambisexual, meaning that the plant contains both male and female components, but they cannot self pollinate. i.e. you must have two trees of different varieties to get fruit.
So, I grafted a bud from a yellow delicious and a bud from a red delicious trees to my ‘good & hardy’ root stock. The damn thing actually survived, and both buds were viable. At the end of the semester, I took my sapling home to Mom & Dad’s and planted it, in an unprotected (yes---unprotected) area of the yard. Again, against all odds, the tree survived and in a few years began to bear fruit—red delicious on one side, yellow on the other. It always caused people to do a double take in late summer- fall when the fruit turned colors , and if nothing else, was a conversation starter. (If only I could have carried it around with me to the gay bars, I might have had better luck at picking up guys. I’ve never been a good ‘barfly’-but I digress.) Making this bi-varietal (ambisexual) tree is one of my better memories from those years. I felt like I’d done something significant or lasting (relatively speaking—I know it’s nothing earth shattering).
For reasons I don’t even remember, that semester was a tough one for me. This was all PGR (Pre-Gay Randy). I completely tanked my first exam and think I ended up getting a C in the class, even though it was one of my favorite horticulture classes. It was the same semester I took “Plant Pathology”, and that class I anticipated being difficult so I took it Pass/Fail which was on option as a non requirement. Early on in that semester, the Professor of this class had an opening for a student worker. One stipulation was that you had to maintain at least a “B” average in his class. By the time this all happened, it was too late to switch P/F classes with polmology, so I had to study harder to keep the higher grade in the class I’d elected as P/F. Such is the story of my life. I ended up working almost 2 years in Corn Pathology. I spent the summers inoculating and infecting corn with various diseases and fungi, and then surveying the results, among other things. In a future post, I’ll write about the time I had corn stalk rind jammed under my thumbnail. Let’s just say that really sucked poorly and hurt like a MF. ©wtf/rle


mark's tails said...

very nice, you should post a pic of that tree.

gay CME guy said...

The tree is no more. My obscure reference to being planted in an unprotected area, was behind my Dad's Garage/Business which is next to their house. They sold the garage, and the tree, no longer being on their property was eliminated. My Dad and I had many fights about 'landscaping and plant placement' in the yard during my horticultural years--each one a long story in and of itself about Dad being a "Chicken Little Fatalist". He can dream up the worst possible scenario of any situation and be convinced it will happen.

The Bee Tree said...
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Mel Keegan said...

I shuddered when I read about the corn stalk rind jammed under your fingernail. Just had something similar like that happen to me with a splinter. OUCH!

We had an orange tree with a branch from a bush lime grafted on. Made for great fruit!

gay CME guy said...

Thanks, GDad! How simple--And how obtuse of me.