Friday, March 14, 2014

Winter Time

 Just a peak at our apple orchard in the winter.  
The picture below looks pretty lovely for winter time. 

 We just got done with pruning the trees a few days ago. It has turned into a bigger job the last few years because we prune it all by hand now.  For several years there, we had a machine with round spinning blades come in that buzzed the new growth off the top and lightly pruned the sides.  Then all we would have left was to prune the branches on the inside and fine tune the outside.  
It cost us about $5000 to prune last year!

Why do we need to prune our trees anyway?
Well, not everyone prunes like us.  Since our trees our u-pick, we like to keep the trees really short so you don't have to use ladders.  Every year we cut off the tops of the trees in the same spot.  Instead of growing the trees taller, we like the trees to grow out parallel towards each other...more like a trellis.  The goal is minimal wasted space between the trees eventually. 
 Another important step to reduce pruning is the tree you choose to plant to begin with.  Trees come with different roots (rootstock)....we like the rootstock that keep the trees smaller.  (Most apple trees are grafted so you can choose the rootstock size and the type of apple on top).
When you are out in our orchard this next summer, take a look at our Granny Smith tree rows compared to many of the other rows.  The Granny Smith rows have a bigger rootstock on the bottom so they are a much larger tree.  In fact, it is no fun driving a gator or tractor down those rows because you get smacked in the head with the branches too often!

There are several other reasons we prune too. 
The more branches we leave, the less light that will penetrate the tree's middle.  Less light, means apples won't turn their pretty color we all like to see.  Have you ever noticed when you pick certain apples, that one side is the pretty coloring we are use to and the other side is just plain green?  The green side didn't get the sunlight, and the other side did.
Also pruning in the winter helps create less work in the springtime.  The more branches we leave on, the more apples we have to thin (remove).  If we left all the apples that the trees produce, the apples would all be very small. (We do this when they are about thumb size) Each year we have to remove tons of apples, so the ones left on the tree have enough room and nutrients to grow!

And thirdly, pruning makes picking easier for you guys!

After we prune, then we rake the branches out into the grass row to mow them up....getting many flat tires in the process :)

Next project: we need to spend time replacing posts that are rotted and broken, move some of the wire trellis to better support the trees and tie trees to the wire to keep them growing straight, instead of leaning over from the wind and weight of apples.

So these trees are 50+ years old!  We experimented (which happens frequently on our farm!), cut the old tops of the tree off severely and tried grafting Honeycrisp branches on top.  Well, it worked, even on these old trees.  The little branches you see growing straight up now will bear Honeycrisp apples!

And this is just a fun picture of when it snowed here back in February!  My dad had fun and toured around on his snowmobile! 

Has everyone used up their apples by now?!  
I finally had to buy my first apple at the grocery store the other day.  It was a hard thing for me to do!  :)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Orchard Closed.

The orchard will be closing at 12pm today, for the season.

Thank you so much for all your business this year!  

We so enjoyed seeing and visiting with you all.  
I hope you have eaten apples to your hearts content.

Now to wait patiently for next season!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ice Apples

 You've heard about them, you've seen them advertised in the newspaper, well.... they are here!!!

Ice Apples!

If you've never heard of them, the blog, my has this to say about them: 

"Technically they are your basic Fuji apple, very sweet with good crunch. What makes these different is they are picked during the last days of October - the last of the season - and leaving them on the tree a little longer, allowing the center of the apples to crystallize a bit, leaving a pocket of juiciness in the center. This makes the entire apple just a bit sweeter.
Check out this You Tube video and article about ice apples if you' ve never heard about them!

Come try them and see what you think!

To find them in the orchard, look for the 3 rows labeled Fuji, and walk 3/4 of the way down to the far end.  The trees are loaded down at the end!

We also have:

Pink Lady
Gold Rush
Granny Smith

Still all nice and crisp!

There are also some Golden Delicious and Red Delicious out there but getting on the softer side.  
Golden Delicious would still be fine for cooking though.

Remember this is our last weekend officially open!  After this weekend, it will be self-serve until I post otherwise.  Just pay at the office when you leave.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Still time to pick so you can make that Thanksgiving apple pie!

Today's post could be the same as the last one!  We still have lots of apples available.

Pink Lady
Granny Smith
Gold Rush
Golden Delicious
Red Delicious

All above are still nice and crisp and fresh.  

You could still find some Jonagold out there if you look.

To find where the most apples are left to pick, walk down to the orange cone and start picking there.  The farther down the row you go, the better the picking!  The far ends of the rows are usually still loaded and fast picking!

We do have some apples pre-picked up by the office if you'd rather go that route.  $12/bucket for those.

Last day the orchard will be open for the season is 
Wednesday, Nov 27th.

We will still have apples after that date if you really still want some but the orchard will be self-service.  Just stop and pay at the office when you are done picking.  We will post again when the orchard is totally closed to the public so check back here if you are uncertain.

Friday, November 1, 2013

To be a kid again.

What fun there is to have in the orchard!

We still have many varieties of apples available out in the orchard!

Lots of these left in prime condition:

Pink Lady
Granny Smith
Gold Rush
Golden Delicious
Red Delicious

Most ripe and really good for sweet applesauce right now:
Jonagold (Four rows left.  Walk down to orange cone and start picking apples there.)

We will still be open for several more weeks.  Last year we were open up to Thanksgiving.  Looking about the same this year too.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pink Lady are now ready! Yum.

 The wait is over!  
Pink Lady apples are finally ripe.  
Always the last one to ripen, but SO worth the wait.

Pink Lady apples are a great all-around apple.  Great for eating, they are part sweet but also have more of a tangy-tart kick.  They are great for baking and applesauce too.  Plus even better they have always been the best storage apple of the all the winter apples we grow.  At least that is what I have found in my experience.  Come check them out!  

Other apple availability:

Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, Melrose,  Jonagold, Gold Rush, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious - LOTS LEFT OF THESE!

Gala- Tiny bit left but you will only find them if you ask us.  A few trees in the older section of the orchard have them left.

Rome, Ruby Jon - All picked.

Thank you to all that came out to our first ever Apple Festival!  We are planning on having it again next year!  We all had so much fun and so did you guys it seemed!  Just nice to have a chance to talk with all of you more.

One thing I learned from our applesauce tasting is that Ruby Jon apples making AMAZING applesauce.  I thought I loved Jonagold applesauce but Ruby Jon is even better!  Unfortunately Ruby Jon apples have all been picked this year but I am already looking forward to next year!!

Here are some pictures to give you an idea what the festival was all about for those of you who couldn't make it.

Getting all set up in the morning.

Apple tasting.  
Fun to be able to taste everything right there and compare.

 Apple crafts for the kids.

Kids checking out the inside of a combine!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Granny Smith and Gold Rush are ready to pick!

Granny Smith

Granny Smith are a well known apple!  They are a tart apple that are great for pies.  They are also great for caramel apples because the sweetness of the caramel and tartness of the apple balance each other out.  These are also considered a winter apple, so they are great for storing.
And a select few of you love them for eating :)
My grandpa always like to throw one of these in the mix when making apple cider to give it a little bit of zing.

Gold Rush
Gold Rush are a winter apple too, so also great for storing.  Also great for eating fresh, salads, cider and cooking.  Gold Rush apples also resist browning so another reason why they are great for salads.  They won't brown as much as other apples.
Gold Rush have a tart taste but also with some sweetness.  

Other apples availability:

Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Fuji, Braeburn - Lots of these varieties left.

Red Delicious, Melrose-  They are all gone off the main row but lots of both of these left in older section of orchard behind the shop.  Ask if you can't find them.  

Gala-All gone off the main two rows, but still some nice crispy ones left in the older section of the orchard.  Look right behind the shop in the first 2 rows, or please ask and we will take you to them!

Rome- If you walk all the way to the far end, you will find some left.  They will likely be gone by this weekend though.

Ruby Jon, Honeycrisp - All have been picked. 

Don't forget about our 1st Apple Festival which is this next weekend!
Saturday, October 19th.  10am-2pm

We will have apple tasting of all varieties that are ripe.
Applesauce samples,
Apple crafts for kids,
Apple orchard tours at 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm and 1:30pm. 
All free!

And it even looks to be sunny!!!