WHEN MY FRIEND ANDREW AND I TRIED GRAFTING tomato plants last spring in his greenhouse, the conversation went like this: “I wonder when we’ll see them ‘readymade’ in the garden centers,” he said. “Soon, I bet,” I replied. “Yes,” he agreed, “soon.” The garden center’s still closed up this way, but I can tell you this: At least one prominent mail-order catalog is selling grafted tomato seedlings.
I’d first read of the tactic being used commercially, particularly in greenhouse growing, to improve yields from less-vigorous varieties like some heirlooms, and counter certain tough conditions or diseases. Now it’s available to the home gardener, too–and you don’t even need a razor blade or grafting clips of your own.
The extensive article I wrote last January on tomato grafting explained all the steps, with help from a video from Ohio State.
Our plants did fine; the grafts took easily, once the initial awkwardness of the slice-and-dice-and-reconnect motions were semi-mastered. Matching up rootstock (which you behead) with a scion (the top of another plant, the one you want the tomatoes from) was the trickiest part, since our faster-growing rootstock had reached a heftier diameter than the young scions. Matchmaking is always a little tricky, though, isn’t it?