For at least 4,000 years people have been propagating the very best fruit varieties, selecting ones that taste good, crop well, are locally adapted, etc.
The pip in an apple has been cross-pollinated with another type of apple. So if you plant an apple pip it won’t grow up to be like its parent, just as you are not a clone of your mother, and the chances are it won’t be so nice. If you put a blackcurrant twig in the ground it will probably grow into a new bush, but if you do that with an apple it will almost certainly die. So how do we propagate apples and many other fruit types?
Evidence suggests our ancestors had developed grafting 4,000 years ago. This is usually the practice of joining a small piece of a chosen variety to a young tree in such a way that the variety becomes the entire top of the tree from the roots up. All the apples in Brighton Permaculture Trust’s Sussex Apple Collection and nearly all the fruit trees we see around us have been propagated in this way.
If you would like to learn more about Sussex apples you are welcome to attend our free workshop 22 July: https://brightonpermaculture.org.uk/sussexapples
If you would like to learn how to graft fruit trees Peter May, our orchard expert, is running a one-day grafting course 28 July: