For decades, other countries have relied on grafting as a means to harvest the best produce and plants for both personal and commercial use. There is an ongoing debate about whether or not this tricky and time-consuming method really does create better plants, but it is still quickly becoming a choice for many American gardeners and farmers.
What is grafting? It’s a somewhat complicated horticultural technique in which tissues from one plant are inserted onto those of another, so that they may join together. This method is more common that you might think. For example, many tree varietals, such as apples and oranges, have been grafted in order for them to grow quickly and produce the maximum amount of fruit for resale. This allows the new hybrid tree to carry the most desirable traits, controlling the process of growing.
Other advantages to grafting include: the grafted plants’ resilience against diseases, better plant production because of roots’ abilities to draw more water and nutrients from soil, and a debatably more flavorful harvest. According to the U.K. Telegraph , “With their resistance to disease and tolerance of difficult growing conditions, grafted fruit and vegetables are becoming more and more popular with gardeners… you should end up with lots of flavourful fruit and vegetables on healthy plants…”
According to Anne Raver, in an article for the New York Times, “Just as grafting apple and grape varieties to hardy rootstock produces more productive, disease-resistant fruit, grafting heirloom tomato varieties to a vigorous rootstock can produce a similar result.” She also says “Andrew Mefferd, who tests crops for Johnny’s Selected Seeds in Winslow, Me., calls it ‘the biggest single change since people started hybridizing tomatoes in the 1920s and ’30s.’”
If you consider yourself to be an ambitious gardener, try grafting different tomato varietals this summer and weigh in on the debate! Do grafted plants really produce fruit that grows and tastes better? Your local nursery should be able to provide you with more tips and ways to get started in your garden.