Grafting Two Apple Trees

We’ve got two apple trees. Apple trees need to cross-pollinate to produce fruit. What happens if one of our trees dies? If you graft branches from each tree on the other tree, then the tree can cross-pollinate itself!

Despite my long absence from this blog, I am still alive. I just haven’t done anything interesting lately. I have been focusing heavily on finishing my masters program this semester, working full time and staying warm.

While I’m not quite done with all of those things, I’ve been planning on grafting our apple trees to each other for two years. Two years ago the trees were too small and I didn’t want to mess with them them. Last year I just missed the timing.

When to Graft

I’m not a grafting expert, but my understanding is that there are two times when you can graft. For cut-and-splice type grafting you should do it in the spring before the plant starts budding. For bud-grafts you do it at the end of summer when next year’s buds have developed and this year’s bark peels easily from the tree.

 Making a Cleft Graft

Most grafting tutorials seem to be oriented around grafting a whole new tree onto a different rootstock.

I decided to do a cleft graft because it seemed easy, and I found examples of it being used on non-rootstock.

The photos mix up the two grafts I did a little bit so if it looks like I’m switching trees, that’s because I am. The steps are in the right order though.

Start by cutting two segments of last year’s growth. These are the scions.

Two Haralson Scions
Two Haralson Scions

Cut a branch off with a nice clean cut, straight across the branch.

The Sacrificial Branch
The Sacrificial Branch

Create a cleft about two inches deep by rocking a sharp knife back and forth and pushing firmly.

Creating the Cleft
Creating the Cleft

Whittle the ends of the scions so they are wedges about 1 inch long and insert them into the graft. Make sure that the cambium (the thin layer right below the bark) lines up between the cleft and the scion.

Inserting the Scions Into the Cleft
Inserting the Scions Into the Cleft

Protect your graft by covering it with wax.

Covering the Graft With Wax
Covering the Graft With Wax

Wrap the graft tightly with electrical tape to give it a little bit more support

Wrapping the Graft with Electrical Tape
Wrapping the Graft with Electrical Tape

So I repeated this process twice. Once on the Haralson and once on the Honeygold. Now we wait.

I believe that this year they are supposed to grow together, but I don’t expect to see much action in the grafted branches. If I understand everything correctly, I should expect to see them bud out next spring.

Fingers crossed!

 

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Calvin’s Spring-legged Dog

Calvin really wanted to buy some springs. So we went to what might be my favorite store in the whole world: Ax-man and he bought some with his very own money. When we got home Calvin said he wanted to make them into dogs legs and make a dog to go with them. So we did. It’s for the current love of his life, Natalie. They’re in kindergarten together.

He loved two recent dachshunds he recently saw, and his springs were short, so we went with it. I cut the dog profile out of oak on the bandsaw. Calvin was in charge of painting.

Calvin starts painting
Calvin starts painting

Calvin wanted to use all the colors, but we convinced him not to do that. Instead he chose the “colors of Italy” — Red, white and blue. Caroline and I thought that Red, White and Green would look worse than Red, White and Blue, so we didn’t correct him.

Against our recommendation of brown, he chose "The colors of Italy". Red, White and Blue.
Against our recommendation of brown, he chose “The colors of Italy”. Red, White and Blue.

We returned to Ax-man again and bought a skinny spring for the tail, some metal clips and screws to hold the spring legs on, and some leather for the ears. We had some old fake red leather for the tongue from a previous project.

We put a layer of polyurethane over the paint to protect it, and then attached the various bits and pieces.

Hello Doggie!
Hello Doggie!

Nice job Calvin!

Woof!
Woof!
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How To Make a Kids Audio Book With Audacity

We got our 3 year old a CD boom box for Christmas and have been making audio CDs for her with us reading her favorite books to her. Since these are kids books, every page turn is a separate track on the CD. This makes it easy for kids to go back and forth through the book if they want.

We’ve been using the good old free Audacity.

Start by downloading Audacity and a page-turn sound. I used a spring sound I found on a free sounds website.

Recording the Story

To record simply click the red Record button. Doing so will create a new stereo track and start recording. We read the book’s title and author and tell the kids to turn the page when they hear the *SPROING* sound.

Then we just read the book. I like to read it slightly slower than I would if I were reading to the kids so the ones who can read can follow along. At each page turn I pause for a few seconds to give the kids time to turn the page.

Click Record and Read the Book
Click Record and Read the Book

Sound Cleanup

To clean up the sound I do two simple things.

Noise Removal

To remove background noise (like fans, air conditioning, the hum of a fridge) select a section of the recording that should be silent. Run the Noise Removal tool found in Effect -> Noise Removal.

 

Profile a silent segment
Profile a silent segment

In the noise removal dialog click Get Noise Profile. This will analyize the selected section of supposed silence and use it in the next step. Run the Noise Removal tool again, but this time click OK.

4

Normalize The Audio

Use the Effect -> Normalize tool to make your volume more even.

Add Page Turn Effects

Open the page turn sound effect you downloaded earlier in another copy of Audacity. You can simply use copy and paste (Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V) to copy the page turn sound effect where you want it. Be sure to leave enough time after the page turn noise for a kid to actually turn the page.

Prepare The Book For Export

Add another track to the project. We’re going to use a Label Track to indicate where our page turn.

Use Tracks -> Add New -> Label Track.

Add a Label Track to determine break points
Add a Label Track to determine break points

In the label track simply click where you want to place a label, then start typing. I named my labels 001, 002, 003 etc. because those labels will become the file names later and I want my files to be in sequential order.

Set Labels
Set Labels

Export CD Tracks

Finally we’re ready to export the separate tracks. Use File -> Export Multiple to bring up the dialog.

Export Multiple
Export Multiple

Choose the WAV export format. Split files based on Labels, and include audio before first label. If you have named your files 001 etc, then you can set the first file name to 000.

Click the Export button.

Include audio before first label
Include audio before first label

This dialog will pop up once for every file. I’m sure there’s some way to suppress it but since my books are short I haven’t bothered figuring out how. Just press OK a bunch of times.

Close this window a bunch of times
Close this window a bunch of times

 

Burning Your Book to CD

You should now have a folder full of WAV files somewhere. You can use whatever program you want to burn these to CD. I use k3b on Linux, and my wife uses iTunes on her Mac.

For iTunes, create a new playlist and name it the name of the book. Drag all the files you made to the playlist. Right click on the playlist and select Burn Playlist. Make sure there’s no gap between tracks, and make sure that Use CD Text is checked.

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