Upcoming Workshop: Planting, Grafting, and Pruning Apple Trees, April 17 | Pay What You Can

Apple protected from pests (photo from G. Vorontsov).

Apples are one of the world’s most popular fruit trees, but they are especially important in American history. At previous times, the government required homesteaders to plant an apple orchard to prove their investment in their land. The prohibitionist’s axe was for cutting down apple trees, as cider was as popular as beer up until that time period. Wisconsin is a great apple-growing environment and in this workshop, you’ll learn the basics of grafting and pruning apple trees.

Perhaps you’ve tried growing apples from seeds? Or maybe you already know that seeds from a particular apple variety will not give you a tree that produces the same apples. In order to get apples of a known variety, branches must be pruned from an existing tree and grafted onto another tree. The donor and receiving trees, as well as the graft must be handled with care.

Scott Johnson picking apples (photo from S. Johnson).

Aspiring apple growers also purchase bare-root and potted apple trees from nurseries — these are known varieties grafted onto a rootstock. These different starts require site preparation and care during planting and establishment.

Each year the apple tree needs to be tended and pruned. Pruning makes life easier for the apple grower and the tree more productive. The arborist must consider the shape of the tree, goals of the grower, and basic pruning hygiene and rules. This workshop will introduce all three of these topics, suitable for the backyard grower.

Workshop Details

Truck full of apples (photo from S. Johnson).

This course will cover basic aspects of apple tree planting, grafting, and pruning. Some graftable branches (called scions) will be available for you to take home. Each student will get a grafted rootstock to take home (extra available for purchase). You are welcome to bring scions from your own trees to share. Please bring any pruning supplies and your questions about growing apples, but extra pruning supplies will be available if you do not have any. Also, please wear clothing appropriate for the weather and activity: close-toed shoes, pants, etc. Please bring a pack lunch. Snacks and beverages (coffee, tea, juice, water) will be provided.

Apple cider (photo from S. Johnson).

The workshop  will take place at the Low Technology Institute on April 17, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. We’ll start the morning with grafting, eat lunch and then head over to an abandoned orchard to get pruning. You name your price for this workshop ($25 donation suggested). You can reserve your spot by paying the workshop fee at our online store. If the course is sold out, please check out with the $0 “Waitlist” option to be added to the queue. Also, participants must fill out this liability waiver. Your registration is only complete when the waiver is filled out.

Important! If the class appears sold out, please refresh the page and/or clear your browser cache. When it is truly sold out, I will remove all options except the waitlist. If you still can’t sign up, please send an email to info@lowtechinstitute.org.

Register Now!


Due to the changing nature of the pandemic, we will be following CDC or Dane County recommendations in effect at the time of the workshop. This event will be outside as much as possible. At this time, we can only accommodate fully vaccinated people (find a vaccine appointment here). As of this posting, masks will be optional, but if conditions change, this may also change. Hand sanitizer, etc. will be available.


Some of Gregory Vorontsov’s apples (photo by G. Vorontsov).

Gregory Vorontsov is a suburban homesteader who grows much of his own food. He has 14 years experience growing apple trees with particular interest in apple tree forming and maintenance, collecting heirloom and non-commercial apple varieties, and eating apples. While being an IT professional, Greg spends much of his spare time working on his fruit trees and berry bushes, growing potatoes and other vegetables, building beehives and tending to the bees.

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