Here is a photo of Gene with a dwarf apple tree he created himself. He took scion wood (a twig of the desired apple variety) and grafted it on to a dwarfing root stock. Instead of one 30-foot apple tree he has about 99 (all different) 40-inch-tall apple trees growing in his back yard in Skokie. These apple trees all bear full-size fruit but take up less space than a large tomato plant.
Evanston 150 is urging residents to get growing and eat healthier. Plants that do well on balconies and city lots and are both ornamental and edible are fun to grow.
Gene is a member of MidFEx, short for Midwest Fruit Explorers, an organization made up of fruit-growing enthusiasts.
These people enjoy growing great-tasting fruits, such as apples, pears, peaches, raspberries, and plums – fruits that never show up in stores because they do not travel well.
MidFEx members get together formally about four times a year to talk about fruit, share information, and help others find, propagate, and grow choice fruit for their front or back yard. Since the fruit will go from plant-to-hand-to-mouth it does not have to have a thick skin or be dipped in freshness-preserving wax.
On April 14 MidFEx will hold a grafting workshop from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Linnaeus Room at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, open to the public.
The lecture and the workshop are free, but those who wish to take home a tree will need to buy a rootstock. Dwarfing apple, pear and plum rootstock will be available. Cost for MidFEx members is $4 for each root stock, the scion wood is free. Cost for rootstock for non-members is $5, and it includes two pieces of scion wood.
Grafting requires a very sharp knife with a 2-3 inch blade. Participants should bring a medium-size pocket knife; it can be sharpened at the workshop, if necessary.
Fruit in the fall will also be featured at the Chicago Botanic Garden on Oct. 19 and 20, with more than 100 varieties of locally gown fruit, a cider-making demonstration and fruit butter and books on fruit-growing for sale.