This Weekend’s Made-to-Order Weather for Your Farm-to-Table Adventure; Pick Your Own Apples, Pumpkins, and Brazzle Sprozzles; Sweet Cider & Donuts; Seed Garlic for Your Garden; High Harvest for U-Pick Heirloom Apples!

DEAR FARMKETEERS:  Which one of these words does not belong?  Shilly-shally, dilly-dally, helter-skelter, hoity-toity, higgledy-piggledy, pell-mell, pall-mall, zig-zag, wing-ding, ding-dong, mish-mash, argle-bargle, itsy-bitsy, easy-peasy, hanky-panky, okey-dokey, namby-pamby, bric-a-brac, flim-flam, handy-dandy, heebie-jeebies, hokey-pokey, hurdy-gurdy, loosey-goosey, twiddle-twaddle, willy-nilly, yadda-yadda.  Do you know which is the oddball?

Hint:  Bric-a-brac.  If you guessed bric-a-brac, you’re right as usual.  Bric-a-brac does not belong.  It has three word-pieces instead of two.  Obviously therefore bric-a-brac cannot be part of this Fresh Crop Alert.  Adios, Bric-a-brac!  Now let us consider the others in turn…

Heebie-jeebies.  Let’s try it in a sentence.  How about:  “My little sister gets the heebie-jeebies when she daydreams about rabid cider donuts attacking a gentle zombie fruit farmer by the woodstove.”  Fair enough, that is creepy!  But it’s just a dream.  There’s no such thing as zombie fruit.  Anyway, you can get your freshly fried toroids of fructotic doughnutude by the dozen or half-dozen on Saturday and Sunday 10:30 to 6:00.  If you want cinnamon sugar, simply whisper, “A sprinkle of SIN, SUGAR.”  Nick the Donut Kid will grok your meaning.  You can wash down your donuts with freshly pressed sweet cider, known around here as “Orchard Ambrosia” – 100% unpasteurized old-time juice of apples and pears.  Freezes great.  We’re brewing hot mulled cider, too, what with all the autumnals nipping around the ears.

Handy-dandy.  You can pick your own Mutsu apples, also known as Crispin, and golly are they handy-dandy.  The most versatile apple on the farm.  Mutsu is a dessert apple.  A pie apple.  A bake-it-right-in-the-oven apple.  It is the versatile little black cocktail dress of apples.  Appropriate for any occasion – and irresistible with that fetching hint of Mutsu blush.  Plus they get as big as pumpkins.  Dad planted the Mutsu orchard back in ’84.  We could rhapsodize about the Mutsus for weeks.  The British call them “oven busters” since a couple of old orchard ladies could pick one giant Mutsu and bake it in the oven and split it as dessert for their afternoon stitch-n-bitch.  But – as we have opined before – boys can do that, too.  Ovens and stitching and b*tching aren’t just for girls.  Same with dessert.  And feelings.  And sharing.  And little black cocktail dresses.  All welcome at The ‘Creek.

Hoity-toity.  Yes, please DO explore our exotic, antique, and heritage apples; but, no, don’t get hoity-toity about your apple savvy.  The world almost certainly does not need another self-satisfied foodie.  Rather, you can adopt beginner mind in the Dwarf Orchard, where you can still pick your own Golden Russet (pictured), Roxbury Russet, Calville Blanc, Newtown Pippin, Golden Delicious and many other heritage treats.  These are apples you will not find in a grocery store.  They are delicious and spicy and often mysterious – prized among apple lovers and cider aficionados.  Look for the heirloom rows on the orchard map, labeled as Mixed Russets, Mixed Heirlooms, Colonial Apples, and English Pippins.  For some varieties, there is only one tree!  Please help us harvest these gems and expand your palate in a single visit.

Higgledy-piggledy, pell-mell, helter-skelter.  These words are birds of a feather.  They mean jumbled or scattered or disordered.  Evincing entropy.  A willy-nilly mish-mash.  Much like our Vintage Orchard, with Red Spy (ready now) and Rome Beauty and other classics planted all hither and thither.  Please zig-zag therein unhurriedly, have a picnic, hike around.  Keep your eyes peeled for red ribbons on trees with red apples.  Those are the Red Spy apples – possibly the best pie apples in the Lower 48.  And, yes, you can still get HONEYCRISP apples and other varieties of apples and pears at the farm stand.  *Note:  Some of the red ribbons have faded to pink.  But they are still Red Spy.

Shilly-shally.  Dilly-dally.  It is October 18 – come pick your dream pumpkins now!  Last year the Pumpkin Patch got picked clean well before Halloween.  So the prudent picker dare not shilly-shally.  Nor dilly-dally!

Boopy.  Overheard in the Pumpkin Patch:  “Ew mama these pumpkins are so boopy.”  Thus we have an unofficial addition to the word list, courtesy of a 4-year-old Farmketeer, though we might recast it as “boopy-doopy” to fit the formula.  (Lest we have to let bric-a-brac back into the fold; after all, exceptions ARE invidious.)  These boopy pumpkins might make Thoreau want to rethink his famous assertion:  “I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”  Suit yourself, pal!

Pall-mall.  Every week we have to come up with a new nickname for Brussels sprouts or we die.  Like a shark that has to keep swimming lest it sink to the seafloor, or Sisyphus rolling that eternal, infernal rock uphill.  Last week was “Brouts” and the week before that was “Sprussel Brouts.”  This week, in the spirit of compound words, we elected Brazzle-Sprozzles.  Please come cut your own sprozzles – just be sure to use the loppers and CUT the whole stalk rather than picking individual sprouts off the stalk, which wrecks the plant.  But what is pall-mall you ask?  Well first, not to be confused with pell-mell which we discussed in lesson 4 above.  Pall-mall was a popular lawn game in 16th-century England, a precursor to croquet.  In a pinch you could use large brazzle-sprozzles as your pell-mell balls.

Wing-ding.  Take a pan full of fresh-plucked sprouts, fry them with bacon and chopped nuts, invite your best friends, and BAM, you’ve got a wing-ding.  Season the sprouts – and the guests! – with a good hard cider, just like wine or sherry.  The wing-ding pros at Eve’s Cidery taught us that.

Ding-dong!  That’s the ALARM BELL telling you it’s time to plan your spring garden – and get deluxe seed garlic this weekend.  Special seed garlic sale!  Our neighbor Paul will be selling his organically grown garlic bulbs at the farm stand Saturday, October 19, 10:00 to 5:00.  You can find the likes of Georgia Fire, Italian Easy Peel, Tochliavri, Persian Star, Romanian Red, Chesnok Red, Georgia Crystal, and others.  Soft necks and hard necks.  Large bulbs and cold-hardy.  Paul has grown these lines of garlic for over 10 years in his home garden on Indian Creek Road.  Come support a local gardener and get your own garlic patch planted!  He will also have utility garlic for sale and specials at his table.  You can contact him at (607) 279-4866 and pac30@cornell.edu.

Itsy-bitsy.  You only need to taste an itsy-bitsy slice of fresh ginger root to be a convert for life.  Good enough to eat fresh, not to mention bringing life to your cooking creations.  Same with the fresh turmeric root.  Sharon and Dean from TreeGate Farm around the corner have been delighting farm fans with these tropical roots grown here in the Finger Lakes.  Same deal with Cal’s radishes grown here at The ‘Creek – 5 kinds now available at the farm stand and they add proper zing to your noshings.  Also last chance to pick peppers (sweet and hot) and possibly score the last tomatoes on the farm.

Hurdy-gurdy, hokey-pokey.  When Bowie is not doing flower tricks, he plays the hurdy-gurdy and does the hokey-pokey.  You can still cut your own flowers by the bouquet or 5-gallon bucket (bring your own bucket).  Could be the final week for flowers.  Also, bring your own bags for apple picking and shopping – or get our reusable farm totes.  No more single-use plastic bags on the farm!

Easy-peasy!  Kids at Belle Sherman Elementary School painted pumpkins during their International Harvest Festival.  See, kids, it’s not so hard once you get started.  Easy-peasy.  We sent a trunkload of gourds to support the party.  Thank you.

Love to y’all.  Hope to see you at The ‘Creek.

Posted in Crop Alerts & Farm Buzz

Diamonds Are Forever, but Donuts Are for NOW; Come Pick Your Own Apples & Pumpkins & Brouts; Drink Sweet Cider & Hot Mulled Cider; Open Monday Holiday & Every Day; Moonshine Sale Ends Sunday.

DEAR FARMKETEERS:  Little Bobby will become Bummed Out Bobby if you wait til the final week before Halloween to come pick your dream pumpkins.

Just a heads-up.  You don’t want to have to tell Little Bobby that her jack-o-lantern is a JOKE-o-Lantern.  A big, gray, lumpy Blue Hubbard.  And no, she won’t be fooled by orange paint.  (But good try, Sneaky Parent of the Year!)  Last season the pumpkin patch got picked clean well before All Hallows’ Eve.  So come pick now.  Pumpkin envy never did anybody any good.  And it can stick around a good 2 weeks.  Freud would say years.

Luckily, the preventative is at hand.  Surely you’ve heard the old rhyme?  Oh how it’s been said a thousand times before… an ounce of pumpkin is worth a pound of cure!   You can pick your pumpkins in the patch or find them right at the farm stand.  (Plenty of Hubbards and other squashes, too, for the revolutionaries out there – you who might like to disrupt the perennial October tyranny of the Orange Ones.)

Come pick apples as big as pumpkins.  That’s right, it’s MUTSU season.  We know you Mutsu fanatics come out of hiding in mid-October every year.  Mutsu is a dessert apple.  A pie apple.  A versatile apple.  The versatile little black cocktail dress of apples.  And they get as big as pumpkins.  Dad planted the Mutsu orchard back in ’84.  We could rhapsodize about the Mutsus for days.  The British call them “oven busters” since a couple of old orchard ladies could pick one giant Mutsu and bake it in the oven and split it as dessert for their afternoon stitch-n-bitch.  But dudes can do that, too.  Just saying.  Ovens and stitching and b*tching aren’t just for girls.  And dessert.  And feelings.  And sharing.  And little black cocktail dresses.  All welcome at The ‘Creek.

ALL!  APPLE!  VARIETIES!  Now open for picking!  This is the last big wave of u-pick apples.  In addition to Mutsu, you can pick Northern Spy, Prairie Spy, Spigold, Jonagold, Winecrisp (pictured), and more.  Ask at the stand and we’ll circle them on the map.  For many of us apple lovers, these October specimens are the cream of the crop, the creme-de-la-creme, the pommes-de-les-pommes.  The Big Show.

Cut your own “Brouts.”  Every week we have to come up with a new nickname for Brussels sprouts or we die.  Like a shark that has to keep swimming lest it sink to the seafloor, or Sisyphus rolling that eternal, infernal rock uphill.  Last week was “Sprussel Brouts” which worked pretty well.  Most everybody figured it out.  This week is the obvious contraction (why didn’t we think of this before?!) – BROUTS.  But careful!  Not to be confused with brots.  Brots is short for brotwursts.  Brots are made of food.  Brouts are made of plants.  But plants can be food too.  And not just ‘rabbit food’ like Old Grandad “It’s-Not-a-Meal-Unless-It’s-Meat” used to call it.  There’s even that new Impossible Burger.  Okay, ready… everyone run to Burger King or McDonald’s or wherever has those Impossible Burgers and order some!  Or let’s not and say we did!  Instead come pick your own Brouts.  They are delicious and nutritious.  Animal Exhibit A is a rabbit named Donut noshing on brouts.

Exhibit B is a horse named Truffle eating Honeycrisp.  The Honeycrisp trees have been stripped clean, but you can still get Honeycrisp apples at the farm stand.  We only get 37 emails a week asking if we still have Honeycrisp.  Yes, we still have them.  By the way, to all you so-called Honeycrisp champions, nobody can eat a Honeycrisp like a pony can.  Prodigious munchings and crunchings.  Juice flying everywhere.  Teeth on the move, nostrils flaring, tail wagging – and that special shimmy they do with their ribs, and that ripple in the withers.  You’d have to really practice to match that.  Prepare for a tummy ache.

Exhibit C is a cat named Chickadee eating sunflowers.  The Sunflower Maze, just FYI, will probably be the Dead Brown Sunflower maze by the time you get here this weekend.  It will still be standing, and you can wander through, and even cut your own sunflowers like before.  Dead brown ones are free.  If you find a nice bright yellow one, it survived the frost and you are a lucky person.  Please return the scissors to the bucket.

Eat donuts and sweet cider.  Get your freshly fried toroids of fructotic scrumption by the dozen or half-dozen on Saturday and Sunday 10:30 to 6:00.  If you want cinnamon sugar, simply whisper, “A sprinkle of SIN, SUGAR.”  Nick the Donut Kid will catch your drift.  Wash down the donuts with freshly pressed sweet cider, known around here as “Orchard Ambrosia” – 100% unpasteurized old-timey juice of apples and pears.  Freezes great.  We’re brewing hot mulled cider, too.

Get fresh ginger root and turmeric root, notably recherché rhizomes here in the Finger Lakes.  Few people know that fresh ging and turm have been growing in Ithaca.  Sharon and Dean of Tree Gate Farm, our friends around the corner on Coy Glen, are delighting Farmketeers for a second year.  Last year Farmies snarfed up the roots as fast as Tree Gate could deliver.  Great for ginger tea and golden milk.  Sharon explains how they grow them:  “The seed comes from Hawaii, arrives in March, and using a greenhouse and a lot of compost, we spend 7 months working to convince it that the Finger Lakes region is almost as wonderful a place to grow as the tropics.  Unlike what you find at the grocery store, our uncured ginger is snappy and sweet, roughly the texture of an apple or a slice of water chestnut.  And no peeling required!  Just be sure to use or freeze within a week; it’s perishable.”

New this week:  Cal’s Five-Color Radish Mix.  The eagerly awaited October blend of yellow, white, burgundy, pink, and red.  You can also get French breakfast radishes, which are tender, white and red, crunchy, with mild spice.  Also Sora radishes, the classic, reliable, round red radish for all purposes.  Also watermelon radishes.  All these spicy little treats are versatile.  Roast them.  Make quick “fridge pickles” for a piquant addition to tacos, burritos, salads.  Eat them raw to power up your personal spice.

Get bulk cider on sale through Sunday October 13!  Hello, homebrew cider fans!  Bring your 5-gallon carboys to Indian Creek by OCTOBER 13 and we will fill them with 100% unpasteurized cider for $30 each (only $6/gallon) OR $5/gallon when you buy 10-45 gallons (2-9 carboys) OR $4/gallon when you get 50 gallons (10 carboys).  That’s backcountry moonshine prices!  It’s the best cider we’ve had in years.  Blend includes Mutsu, Gala, Empire, Mac, Autumn Crisp, Honeycrisp, Virginia Crab, and Elstar.  Just leave your carboys inside the double doors at the farm stand with your name and number attached.  We will call you when filled.

Pick the last peppers.  Maybe tomatoes.  Maybe eggplant.  Farmer Steve’s official report from the nightshade field was:  “Peppers, yes!  Tomatoes, piddling along.  Eggplant, piddling along.”  You won’t find that kind of advanced crop reporting in the Farmers’ Almanac.  No sirree, Bobby.

Love to y’all.  Hope to see you at The ‘Creek.

Posted in Crop Alerts & Farm Buzz

Top 11 Reasons to Hit “The Creek” This Week; Pick Apples & Pumpkins & Sprussel Brouts; Fresh Donuts & Hot Mulled Cider; Cut Your Own Sunflowers in the Maze; Huge Bulk Cider Sale; Got Honeycrisp?

DEAR FARMKETEERS:  Breaking news – The president’s personal lawyer has just hired a former Watergate prosecutor to be his personal lawyer.  Isn’t THAT a love triangle for the ages?  Who knew democracy could be so cozy?  So tidy and sweet?

Dang near sweet as apple pie.  Yes, Farmies, while your leaders have been preparing for a bipartisan slobberknocker of historic proportions, your fellow ‘Creekniks have been keeping it real down here in farm country – picking apples and baking drooly pies.  Thank you for the ins-pie-ration, @4lettersfood!  (Also for the adorbs cover photo in the kitchen!)

Come pick 11 kinds of apples.  Or was it 13 kinds of apples and 11 reasons to get out here?  But who’s counting?  All you need to know is there’s a veritable “crap ton” of apples still hanging here on the trees.  That’s what old cousin Owen would say.  Crap ton.  We called him Onion Ring since he didn’t like onions.  Just kind of joking around, you know, calling somebody a food they don’t like.  All in good jest.  And he secretly did kind of like onion RINGS since they were breaded and deep fried.  We called him Onion for short.  Anyway, Farmketeers, your work here is not done.  Please come pick Jonagold, Fuji, Macoun, McIntosh, Cortland, Liberty, Spartan, Pixie Crunch, Fortune, Snow Sweet, and probably more that have ripened in the 2 days since Farmer Steve surveyed the orchard.  Thank you to everyone who has come apple picking in the rain this week.  Surprisingly active round the farm, and we’re always humbled by your dedication.  By the way, you can still get Honeycrisp apples at the stand.

Bake apple, pecan, cranberry, brown butter bread You’re on a roll, @4lettersfood.  Epic farm-to-table action.

Make your own apple butterrrrrrrrrrrrr!  Thank you, @emmyinthekitchen, for reminding us that it is time to be “putting up” stuff for after harvest.

Cut your own Sprussel Brouts.  Most people have never seen a stalk of sprouts, let alone cut their own.  Even fewer have traveled from New York City just to wear a sprout leaf on their head.  Try it if you like – it is strangely calming.  Famously paired with bacon, Brussels sprouts also pair magically with fresh ginger root.  How about cooking gingered sprouts?

Eat fresh donuts and sweet cider.  Get your freshly fried toroids of fructotic splendor by the dozen or half-dozen on Saturday and Sunday 10:30 to 6:00.  If you want cinnamon sugar, simply whisper, “A sprinkle of SIN, SUGAR.”  Nick the Donut Kid will know what you mean.  Wash down the donuts with freshly pressed sweet cider, known around here as “Orchard Ambrosia” – 100% unpasteurized old-timey juice of apples and pears.  Freezes great.  We’re brewing hot mulled cider, too, now that a nip is in the air.

Get bulk cider on biggly sale!  Hello, homebrew cider fans!  Bring your 5-gallon carboys to Indian Creek by OCTOBER 13 and we will fill them with 100% unpasteurized cider for $30 each (only $6/gallon) OR get it down to $5/gallon when you buy 10-45 gallons (2-9 carboys) OR only $4/gallon when you get 50 gallons (10 carboys).  That’s backcountry moonshine prices!  And it’s the best cider we’ve had in years.  Blend includes Mutsu, Gala, Empire, Mac, Autumn Crisp, Honeycrisp, Virginia Crab, and Elstar.  Just leave your carboys inside the double doors at the farm stand with your name and number attached.  We will call you when filled.

Cut your own sunflowers in the sunflower maze.  Don’t wait long, these suns won’t shine forever.  Thank you again, @4lettersfood.  Seems like an exemplary visit.

Pick the last tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.  The Indian Creek Tomato Council – pictured at their October conclave – will soon shutter the season.  The nightshade field is plugging along.  Diligent pickers, who plod along patiently and look below the leaves, can still find fresh tomatoes, peppers (sweet and hot), and eggplants.  These summer vegetables will be gone soon.  Pick up and put up.

Explore new realms with Cal’s radishes.  New this week – Watermelon radishes (pictured).  Cal just started harvesting these earthy, spicy gems with green rind and bright pink center.  They are great for roasting, pickling, shredding into salads.  You can also get French breakfast radishes, which are tender, white and red, crunchy, with mild spice, the best fresh-eating radishes.  Also Sora radishes, the classic, reliable, round red radish for all purposes.  Coming soon will be the “five color mix” of yellow, white, burgundy, pink, and red.  All these spicy little treats are versatile.  Roast them.  Make quick “fridge pickles” for a piquant addition to tacos, burritos, salads.  Eat them raw to power up your personal spice.

Get fresh ginger root, surely a recherché rhizome here in the Finger Lakes.  Few people know that fresh ginger has been growing in Ithaca.  Sharon and Dean of Tree Gate Farm, our friends around the corner on Coy Glen, are delighting Farmketeers for a second year.  Last year Farmies snarfed up the roots as fast as Tree Gate could deliver.  It’s great for ginger tea and myriad culinary uses.  Sharon explains how they grow it:  “The seed comes from Hawaii, arrives in March, and using a greenhouse and a lot of compost, we spend 7 months working to convince it that the Finger Lakes region is almost as wonderful a place to grow as the tropics.  Unlike what you find at the grocery store, our uncured ginger is snappy and sweet, roughly the texture of an apple or a slice of water chestnut.  And no peeling required!  Just be sure to use or freeze within a week; it’s perishable.”  Ginger now, turmeric soon!

Ready or not, it’s pumpkin season.  Nobody cares about pumpkins before October 4th and nobody cares about them October 32nd.  That gives pumpkins some 28 days to matter.  Please come get yours.  Last year there were no leftovers.

Please, Dear ‘Creekniks, no jokes about impeaching the Great Pumpkin or the Pumpkin of the United States (POTUS).  These are grave matters and not to be trifled with for cheap comedic effect.  No mudslinging and tittle-tattle about the highest office in the land when the elected executive hasn’t had a chance to meet his accuser.  Not fair!

Love to y’all.  Hope to see you at The ‘Creek.

(Thank you to Farmketeer @adri.m.darcy for that last photo!)

Posted in Crop Alerts & Farm Buzz

Pick 15 Kinds of Autumn Apples, Knock Back Fresh Donuts with a Cider Chaser, Cut Sunflowers in the Maze, and – New This Week! – Control the Universe with Ginger, Radishes, and Brussels Sprouts!

DEAR FARMKETEERS:  The days are getting shorter, but do not fear!  Your to-do list is shrinking even faster.

Yes, intrepid locavores!  You have already picked ALL the strawberries, raspberries, peaches, pears, plums, nectarines, apricots, and garlic that we could grow on the whole farm.  And a half-orchard of apples.  And a barnload of veggies besides.  Bravo!  Here is all that’s left on your September to-do list…

#1 – Pick a gigunda crop of apples.  Gigantic doesn’t cover it.  Gigunda is the proper aggie word for a bumper crop.  Please come at once to pick your own Jonamac, Early Fuji, Pixie Crunch, Macoun, Empire, Sweet 16 (hello Cherry Twizzler!), Sir Prize, McIntosh, Cortland (doesn’t turn yellow!), Liberty, Spartan, and more.  Farmer Steve’s orchard report actually said, “Macoun, Macoun, Macoun, Macoun…” which we might take to mean that there’s an especially copious and delicious crop of Macouns this year.  And he wrote MCINTOSH and CORTLAND in all big letters which counts as shouting on the internet.  Pick Macs and Corts off the big trees in the Vintage Orchard.  Find orange (Mac) and yellow (Cortland) ribbons.

#2 – Discover exotic apples and pears at the stand.  You can finish your picking adventure at the roadside farmstand where you’ll find heritage and heirloom fruits that we’ve picked for you.  Treasures you won’t find in a grocery store.  Apples like Ellison’s Orange, Chestnut Crab, Burgundy, Kerr, and Golden Pippin.  Pears like Flemish Beauty, Anjou, Bartlett, and Madame Boutant.  Madame’s card says “old French pear,” not “old Fresh pear” – a probable oxymoron in most construals.

#3 – Cut your own sunflowers in the maze.  Wander the path, harvest as you go, and put the scissors back where you found them.  As it is in life, so it is in the sunflower maze.

#4 – Do a deep-dive into donuts and cider.  Get your freshly fried toroids of fructotic cidericiousness by the dozen or half-dozen on Saturday and Sunday 10:30 to 6:00.  If you want cinnamon sugar, simply whisper, “A sprinkle of SIN, SUGAR.”  Nick the Donut Kid will know what you mean.  Wash down the donuts with freshly pressed sweet cider, known around here as “Orchard Ambrosia” – 100% unpasteurized old-timey juice of apples and pears.  Freezes great.  We’re brewing hot mulled cider, too, now that a nip is in the air.

#5 – Stock up – and spice up – on this recherché commodity:  fresh local ginger root.   “The most precious substance in the universe is the spice… The spice extends life… expands consciousness… gives one the ability to fold space… that is, travel to any part of the universe without moving.”  Of course Sci-Fi fans know that from Dune.  But few people know that fresh ginger has been growing right here at home in the Finger Lakes.  Sharon and Dean of Tree Gate Farm, our friends around the corner next to Coy Glen, will try to keep us supplied for a second year.  Last year Farm Fans hoovered up the rhizomes as fast as they could deliver.  It’s great for ginger tea and myriad culinary uses.  Sharon explains how they grow it:  “The seed comes from Hawaii, arrives in March, and using a greenhouse and a lot of compost, we spend 7 months working to convince it that the Finger Lakes region is almost as wonderful a place to grow as the tropics.  Unlike what you find at the grocery store, our uncured ginger is snappy and sweet, roughly the texture of an apple or a slice of water chestnut.  And no peeling required!  Just be sure to use or freeze within a week; it’s perishable.”  Ginger now, turmeric in October!

#6 – Double your spice power with Callie’s radishes.  “He who controls the spice controls the universe.”  Another science fiction fact that spawns an obvious corollary:  YOU must control the spice in your kitchen.  Time to mine Planet Radish for new culinary booty.  Cal has been harvesting these French breakfast radishes (left) which are tender, white and red, crunchy, with mild spice, the best fresh-eating radishes.  Also Sora radishes (right), the classic, reliable, round red radish for all purposes.  Ripening soon will be watermelon radishes – earthy, spicy, with green rind and bright pink center, great for roasting, pickling, shredding into salads – and the “five color mix” of yellow, white, burgundy, pink, and red.  All these spicy little treats are versatile.  Roast them.  Make quick “fridge pickles” for a piquant addition to tacos, burritos, salads.  Eat them raw to power up your personal spice.

#7 – Cut your own Brussels sprouts. Most people have never seen a stalk of sprouts, let alone cut their own. Famously paired with bacon, but in the spirit of spice, how about cooking your own gingered sprouts?

#8 – Pick the last tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.  The nightshade field keeps plugging along.  Diligent pickers, who plod along patiently and look below the leaves, can still find fresh tomatoes, peppers (sweet and hot), and eggplants.  These summer vegetables will wrap up soon.

#9 – Bake an apple pie!  How about apple ginger pie or ginger apple pie since we have fresh ginger at the stand (first come, first get!)?  Thank you to loyal ‘Creeknik Tamarynde Cacciotti for the mouthwatering pic.

#10 – BYOBag.  Please bring your own bags for picking and shopping, or get our reusable farm totes at the stand.  No more single-use plastic bags at The ‘Creek!  The totes come in 2 sizes for only $1.50 and $2.00.  They’re great for apple picking, but also for groceries and picnics and “various and sundries.”

#11 – Find us at the Festival.  Yes we will be on the Ithaca Commons from Friday through Sunday this week.  Follow your nose to our donut stand.  Look for our big green hut with spinning signs and fresh apples and sweet cider and mulled cider and Brussels sprouts and donuts and other farm treats.

#12 – Help us support farmland protection!  This year Indian Creek donated $1000 to the Finger Lakes Land Trust, our hometown conservation nonprofit, to advance farmland protection efforts in the region.  Land Trust Executive Director Andy Zepp (left) came to chat with Farmer Steve at Indian Creek, which is protected by a conservation easement held by the Town of Ithaca and located within the West Hill Wildway – a proposed greenbelt that extends the length of town and includes both natural areas and farms.  You can help permanently safeguard prime Finger Lakes farmlands by making a gift to the Land Trust.  They have worked tirelessly for 30 years to conserve over 23,000 acres of our most cherished lakeshores, gorges, waterfalls, and open spaces.  Thanks to Chris Ray for this photo and the next.

(Oops, blooper.)  (Corn → Steve.)

Stay tuned for your October to-do list.  We will send it next week.  It is even shorter.  And oranger.

Love to y’all.  Hope to see you at The ‘Creek.

Posted in Crop Alerts & Farm Buzz

How to Make a Love Apple; Orchard Season Hits Stride with Honeycrisp, Gala, Mac, Cortland; Urgent Weekday Sale – Pick Vintage Apples for Less Than $0.99/lb; Weekend Donuts and (New!) Radical Radishes.

DEAR FARMKETEER:  You could continue to be an average lover.  Yes, like millions before you, you could send roses to your sweetheart every Hallmark holiday.  You could leave a trail of chocolate bon-bons from the bedside to the breakfast nook, where Aruba tickets are tucked under the eggs Benedict.  You could even sneak new a Mercedes Benz into the driveway, wrapped in red ribbons (diamond earrings on the keychain!) for an autumnal morning surprise.  These techniques are all part of being average.  Would you like to go from average to awesome?

You must learn to make a Love Apple.  We can show you how.  We do it every day.  We can do it with our eyes closed.  You might even say it is WHAT we do.  We are farmers, growing Love Apples.  Sowing love and growing love.  Magic orbs of eros jumping off the trees.  (Squeezed weekly into unpasteurized Orchard AmbrosiaNectar of the Gawds!)

Put an apple in your armpit.  Let it soak.  Send it to the apple of your eye who will savor the fragrance.  This was called a Love Apple in Elizabethan England, according to zoologist Desmond Morris, who describes the practice in The Naked Woman: A Study of the Female Body.  The apple should be peeled for best absorption, but we are showing fully clothed apples as this is a family channel.  (Important note!  It is still tomato season here at The ‘Creek, so please do not confuse the Love Apple with a love apple.)

You couldn’t make this stuff up.  And you don’t have to.  It is true historical fact according to our friend at Eve’s Cidery who read the book.  Of course, history is written by the victors; to the victors go the spoils; and, from the spoils comes the… compost.  So pick an old apple off a tree – the scabbier and mushier the better – place it in your armpit, and thereby complete the circle of life, love, and decomposition.

May we recommend starting with Vintage Apples – Mac and Cortland – straight out of history?  Big sale!  Now is your chance to pick the classic varieties McIntosh and Cortland in our Vintage Orchard for less than 99¢ a pound.  Here’s how it works.  It’s a big weekday u-pick apple sale through Friday, September 20, 2019.   Ends tomorrow if you are reading this today.  Fill a peck bag for only $10.  Should should work out to 10+ pounds.  Thus you would pay less than $1 per pound which sounds even better when rounded down to 99¢.  Report to the farm stand to get the special bag and map, and we will direct you to the Vintage Orchard where you can hunt for orange ribbons (Mac) and yellow ribbons (Cortland).  Easy picking.  But note!  The bag is $10 whether you fill it or not, so fill it up and it will work out to sweet savings – perhaps less than $1 per pound when it is normally $2.25!  This sudden sale applies only to u-pick McIntosh and Cortland apples.  Don’t wait til the weekend for love.  Get your Vintage Orchard Love Apples before Friday COB.

May we recommend also trying Honeycrisp?  Pairs well with donuts.  That would be the “Love Apple Plus” package.  Only recommended for glutenicious suitors.  This is probably the final weekend of major Honeycrisp picking.

How about Gala, Autumn Crisp, Jonamac (pictured), and others?  Apple season is in full swing now.  Monday is the autumnal equinox.  New apple varieties will ripen each week.  They come and go.  Pick your favorites and try new ones.

Gala apples in the “Love Apple Plus PLUS Package.  A smashing Dutch apple pie by @naturally.hungry.

Apple and raisin bread with spiced apple butter.  Yes, please @redkettlebb!  Hello over there in Watkins Glen.

No running by the pool – but please run to the orchard!  The Mac & Cortland sale is only through Friday, and Honeycrisps will get heavily picked this weekend.  Thank you, heather.abril, for the action shot.

U-pick peaches are kicked.  U-pick pears are hosed.  But don’t fret.  Just switch gears to apple picking.  You can do it.  Thanks for the inspiration @studiofortehenna.

New this week!  Cal’s gourmet radishes at the farm stand.  French breakfast – tender, white and red, crunchy, mild spice, best raw eating radish.  Sora – classic, reliable round red radish.  Watermelon radish – later season, hearty, spicy, green rind with bright pink center, great for roasting, pickling, shredding into salads.  Five color mix – yellow, white, burgundy, pink, and red.  Roast them.  Make quick pickles for a piquant addition to tacos, burritos, salads.  And everyone loves a raw radish.  You might not know it yet, but you do too!

If you want to meet some of the Love Apple armpits, come to dinner at Eve’s Cidery.   You are invited Thursday, October 3, at 6:00 PM.  Dine with the cider makers, Chef Brad Marshall from The Piggery, and special guest, Author Jason Wilson.  Please see the menu and sign up for this six-course farm-to-table cider dinner hosted in Van Etten.  Your ticket includes dinner, drinks, and a signed copy of Jason’s new book that covers so many familiar businesses in our burgeoning regional cider scene.  Last chance, only 4 tickets left!

Love to y’all.  Hope to see you at The ‘Creek.

Posted in Crop Alerts & Farm Buzz

Double Your Pleasure – Pick the Final Rows of Peach Season AND a Bangin’ Croppa Honeycrisp Apples! Also Pick Gala, McIntosh, Jonamac; Secret Tomato Deal; Secret Cidery Dinner; Fresh Weekend Donuts.

ESTEEMED FARMKETEERS:  Have you ever said this to yourself?  “Wow, I’m amazing.”  If you have said it, three cheers for you.  You probably really are amazing.  If you have not said it, don’t worry.  Let us help.  It’s pretty easy.

All you have to do is:  Turn left when you see these arrows by the pear trees.  If you turn left, you will have achieved all that is asked of you at that moment in your life.  And that IS amazing.  Go ahead and say, “Wow, I’m amazing.”  You would be amazed by how many people turn right –or– drive straight when they come to this farmy intersection.  (For the record, nobody has “turned straight” or “gone straight” here, as far as we know, but that would be fine too.  The pears are experts at minding their own business.  They would never think of telling you how to live your one wild and precious life.)

“But I couldn’t find the pear trees…!”  Good point, by the time this Fresh Crop Alert hits newsstands, the Bartlett pears will be scarcer than deviled eggs after a church picnic.  Same for the Asian pears.  Thank you for being such radically fervent parishioners.  Pear-ishioners.  Truth is, by the time this Fresh Crop Alert hits newsstands, the red arrow signs might be gone too – sneakily moved to another part of the orchard and FLIPPED OVER to point right and stuck, absurdly, to an AMPERSAND.  This state of affairs is called ‘entropy’ and our signage team has received commendations for excellence in that most esoteric discipline.  Meanwhile more exotic pears are ripening and you can find them at the farm stand.

Pick your own peaches – or load up at the stand.  This is the last major weekend of peach season.  The final 2 rows are open for picking.  If doing the labor of picking peaches yourself sounds too… laborious… and also makes you ask yourself, Why I am paying these people when I am doing the labor myself? – don’t be ashamed, you are not alone.  Perhaps one thousand pickers before you have carried that ponderous notion around the orchard and departed with a bag full of fruit and head full of additional questions they picked up along the way.  You should expect to leave the farm with at least one unanswered – even unanswerable – question for every pound of produce you buy.  To make the u-pick equation even weirder, you can buy peaches at the stand in various configurations, some of which end up at a better price per pound than u-pick (while supplies last).  Thus trying to leave The ‘Creek in a state of mental clarity is like slinging a hammock between two cornstalks.

Pick your own apples – HONEYCRISP and others!  Did somebody say HONEYCRISPPPP?!  Well does a cat have climbing gear?  Yes.  Yes it does.  And today is the official start of Honeycrisp season.  Some of you started last week but now is your chance to conform and be like the rest of us.  No crop motivates pickers like Honeycrisp and we expect the orchard to be livelier than a flock of two-tailed puppies on Coke Zero and catnip.  Also in the Dwarf Orchard you can find Gala, Jonamac, and Autumn Crisp.  Autumn Crisp used to be called “NYS 674” but somebody thought a rebrand would sell more apples.  Can a name influence your perception of taste?  Think of chocolate mousse versus chocolate mouse, like in the cinematic classic Rosemary’s Baby.  An altogether creepy gig once you factor in Roman Polanski, Mia Farrow (with eery Frank Sinatra sending her divorce papers while she was on set), and the occult-obsessed neighbors canoodling in the closet.  Not to mention “tannis root,” which we do NOT grow at The ‘Creek.  But we digress.  You can also pick McIntosh – a classic of its own – in the Vintage Orchard.

High time to load up on tomatoes and peppers – sweet and hot.  There are a few dozen varieties of tomatoes and peppers and you simply have to come out and rummage around under the leaves to see what’s in abundance.  It’s too hard to tell you here, or in response to Facebook and Instagram questions, exactly what kinds you will find when you come.  Eggplants, meanwhile, are mostly small and scattered since your collective appetite for them has been voracious since first mention a couple months ago.  Anyway, don’t delay, it’s time.

Super secret tomato sale – prepicked pecks of Beefsteak ($18) and Romas ($15).  These would normally be about $25 by the pound.  The sale is so sudden and so super-secret because it might only last one day… or LESS.  Kelsey here at the farm stand said we have about 5 or 10 pecks of each that must be sauced NOW, so first come, first get.  This Fresh Crop Alert might reach 10,000 people in the first few hours, and there are only a few pecks.  So ask as soon as you get here, and if they are gone, please be nice to the stand worker.  Try your hand at picking and hopefully find some beauties in the field.

Fresh cider & cider donuts.  Everyone is back to school and this topic is going to take some explaining.  Okay here we go.  There is fresh cider in our donuts, but if you want cider, you don’t have to squeeze it out of the donuts.  You can just buy a half-gallon or one-gallon jug.  That’s Part One of the lesson.  Part Two:  A baker’s dozen is 13, a farmer’s dozen is 14, but Nick the Donut Kid isn’t really a baker or farmer so he’s serving 12 donuts per dozen like a dozen is supposed to be.  Just like Grandma said.  Sometimes it takes a thoughtful teenager to bring things back to the Old Ways.  If you find that your bag of donuts has one or two extra in the bottom, please count that as dumb luck and don’t get uppity and start thinking you deserve that bonus every time.  Bonus donuts aren’t a right or a privilege – they’re a mistake.  Our free advice is don’t get all high and mighty; because remember, the higher a monkey climbs the more he shows his BUTT.  You can get your freshly fried toroids of fructotic splendor by the dozen or half-dozen between 10:30 and 6:00 on Saturday and Sunday.  If you want cinnamon sugar, just whisper, “A sprinkle of SIN, SUGAR.”

You are invited Thursday, October 3, at 6:00 PM – Dinner Party with the Cider Makers of Eve’s Cidery, Chef Brad Marshall from The Piggery, and Special Guest, Author Jason Wilson.  Get info and tickets now!   You have probably heard about the nationally acclaimed cidery just south of Ithaca, Eve’s Cidery – often credited with stimulating the artisan cider revival here in the Finger Lakes.  They are our old friends and indeed many of the trees in their orchard come from our nursery here at The ‘Creek.  Eve’s Cidery features large in the new book The Cider Revival by leading food and wine writer Jason Wilson.  Please see the menu and sign up for this special six-course farm-to-table cider dinner hosted at Eve’s Cidery in Van Etten.  Your ticket includes dinner, drinks, and a signed copy of Jason’s new book that covers so many familiar businesses in our burgeoning regional cider scene.  See you there?

Want to know what’s prettier than a pat of butter melting on a short stackA fresh-fired, farm-to-table pizza with peaches from The ‘Creek.  Whoa @stonebendfarm.

A special guest in the flower patch.  Say hello to Magnolia Pie Adventure Dog, @magnolia.pie_adventure.dog.

Thank you… for being cherubic and helpy Farmketeers.

Love to y’all.  Hope to see you at The ‘Creek.

Posted in Crop Alerts & Farm Buzz | Leave a comment

Big Timeeeee Peach Timeeeee: Come Pick Your Own Peaches & Tomatoes & Apples; Pick Bartlett Pears & Asian Pears; Get Sweet Cider Daily; Eat Li’l Donuts on Weekends; Free Playground.

DEAR FARMKETEERS:  You’ve often heard us say, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.”  But what do you call a clock that tocks 3 different times at once?  That’s the ‘Creek Clock.  Yes, our jankety old farm chronometer is currently bonging out 3 readings:  Peach O’Clock!  Tomato Time!  Apple Hour!  All this minute.  All with some urgency.

It is GO time for locavores.  In a single ramble round the farm, you can pick juicy peaches, bursting tomatoes, crisp apples, and – a last-minute addition to this Fresh Crop Alert – sweet pears, both Bartlett and Asian pears!  That’s a bona fide cacophony of bells bonging on the ‘Creek Clock.

Bing bongggg – Peaches!  Good morning, sleepyhead!  Don’t hit “snooze” on this breaking news.  Peach picking season is peaking now, about 4 to 7 days later than a typical year, so you can have chin-drizzling bites of summer in September.  You deserve every one.  But this beautiful and abundant crop will go poof soon.  Every bonggg is followed by a pooffff.

Bing bonggg – Tomatoes!  You can pick about 20 kinds of tomatoes.  The abundance of each variety ebbs and flows with crowds and weather.  You should find plenty of romas and beefsteaks and cherries and heirlooms.  Hard to send a precise report; you have to come explore, maybe try new kinds that you find in the field.  Time to “put up” tomatoes for the off-season.

Bingggg bonngg – Apples!  The 2019 apple picking season is already off to a brisk start – you apple fanatics have torn through each of the early varieties.  Picked them clean.  Now picking:  Honeycrisp (shhhh… secret!), Elstar, Dayton, and oddballs.  Probably a couple additional varieties by the time you get here.  We have over 75 kinds in the Dwarf Orchard, some familiar, some new to you.  Don’t just pick H—-crisp.  Explore!

Bartlett Pears and Asian Pears!  Start with Bartletts on the old trees by the main road.  Ask at the stand for a map.  These are delicious classics for eating fresh.  You can give them a day in a paper bag on the kitchen counter to reach perfect sweetness.  Try them poached with a balsamic drizzle?  Then hike up to the Asian pears in the back orchard.  If you’ve never had an Asian pear, do this now.  You will almost certainly become a devotee – and they will get picked fast.  They are round like apples, green like pears, and a delight at first bite.

Donuts Saturday & Sunday.  Get your freshly fried toroids of fructotic splendor by the dozen or half-dozen.  The Mark II Donut Robot runs from 10:30 (loosely) to 6:00 (sharp).  Nick the Donut Kid runs a tight robot.  Good luck getting a donut at 10:29 or 6:01.  Remember, if you want cinnamon sugar, just whisper, “A sprinkle of SIN, SUGAR.”

Apple cider – also known as “Orchard Ambrosia.”  Pressed fresh every week and available in jugs every day.  It is 100% unpasteurized fruit juice like the old days.  Freezes great, just let a little out before you put it in cold storage.  The blend gains character and depth with each passing week because new apples come into the mix.

Veggies – sweet peppers, hot peppers, eggplants, and the aforementioned tomatoes.   Come get yours.  Forage in the Nightshade fields for dozens of varieties.  Don’t rub your eyes after picking hot peppers.  Watch out for prickles on the eggplant stems.  Don’t step on squishy fallen tomatoes.

Flowers – bouquets and buckets.  Pick your own $5 bouquets of zinnias, snapdragons, verbena, gomphrena, celosia, cornflower, statice, strawflower, scabiosa, sweetpeas, salvia, aster, dianthus, algeratum, and others.  Need a bucketful?  Bring a 5-gallon device and pick it full for only $35.  Also shop at the stand for beautiful bouquets in mason jars, handcut and arranged by ‘Creekniks.

Thank you… for being convivial and genuine Farmketeers.

Love to y’all.  Hope to see you at The ‘Creek.

Posted in Crop Alerts & Farm Buzz

High Time to Pick Your Peaches, First Pears, Four Kinds of Apples, and Buckets of Flowers; Also Pick Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplants; Cider Getting Gooder; Weekend Donutsssss.

DEAR FARMKETEERS:  For pagans and astronomers, summer begins on the solstice, June 21.  But for us Finger Lakes fruit farmers, summer begins when the mystical triad of tree orbs comes into transcendental alignment – when peaches, pears, and apples are all ready for plucking at the same time.  When, indeed, we collectively stumble from Peachtown to Appleville… across Bartlett Bridge.

Happy first day of summer.  Just in time for Labor Day.  Yes, peach season is powering into its peak week, and apple season threatens with all its autumnal glee and gloom.  Meantime, a humble little pear crop has appeared to help us make the transition.  You can pick Bartletts now.

Won’t you cross over with us?  Climb into your u-pick buggy with friends and family.  Cue your favorite road trip sing-a-longs.  John Denver and all that.  Peaches, pears, and apples are all picking.  Come help us pick the summer orchards clean.  That will clear the road to a bumper apple season ahead.

Peaches!  Pick lots now!  This is the moment.  Tons ripened this week.  Do not wait.  They’ll be here and gone.  Remember – Donut peaches already got hosed in a flash by fanatical hordes.  Now you can pick big, round, juicy yellow-fleshed and white-fleshed peaches.  It’s go time.

How to avoid heartbreaking waste in peach season:  Don’t squeeze peaches on the tree.  Exhibit A is a cold, hard thumbprint.  Straight up peach abuse.  Somebody was testing ripeness.  They found out it was ripe.  They left it on the tree.  It takes an experienced eye to judge ripeness in a peach by looking.  Best thing to do is:  Ask us which rows are ready.  Pick those peaches.  Take them home even if they feel a little firm.  In 2 days you’ll have a perfect peach.  Stick them in a brown bag to expedite.  Up to you whether you squeeze a peach after it’s yours.  We won’t be judgy.

Pears!  Start with Bartletts on the old trees by the main road.  Ask at the stand for a map.  These are delicious classics for eating fresh – but you might give them a day in a brown bag on the kitchen counter, since pears ripen from the inside out.  Try them poached with a balsamic drizzle, a first date flavorite.

Apples!  Pick your own Zestars (pictured), Ginger Golds, Akanes, and St. Edmund’s Russets.  All tasty early apples.  More varieties ripening every week.

How to avoid heartbreaking waste in apple season:  Pick with 2 hands, steadying the branch and/or nearby apples with your non-dominant hand, then twist off your target apple with your best paw.  Don’t let an apple fall, then knock another apple below, causing a chain reaction.  Multiply that effect by thousands of pickers… and you got a defeated apple farmer.  Please read our Farm School tutorial, How to Pick an Apple.

Bouquets and buckets.  Pick your own $5 bouquets of zinnias, snapdragons, verbena, gomphrena, celosia, cornflower, statice, strawflower, scabiosa, sweetpeas, salvia, aster, dianthus, and algeratum.  Need a bucketful?  Bring a 5-gallon jobber and pick it full for only $35.  Also shop at the stand for beautiful bouquets in mason jars, handcut and arranged by ‘Creekniks.

Tomatoes, Eggplants, Sweet Peppers, Hot Peppers.   There are many varieties in the field, and the abundance of each varies with the days and the crowds.  You simply have to hunt around when you get here.  It’s hard to give a detailed report when that might go out of date within a day.  Come pick, you’ll find something savory.  Don’t rub your eyes after picking hot peppers.  Duh, right?  But just saying.

“Orchard Ambrosia” Pressed fresh every week, 100% tree fruit, unpasteurized like the old days.  Get your gallon and half-gallon jugs.  The blend gets better with each passing week as new apples ripen.  Freezes great.  One family down the street makes ice cubes with it.  Another turns it into moonshine.  And still another turns it into donuts.  Oh, wait, that’s us.

Donuts Saturday & Sunday 10:30 to 6:00.  Get your freshly fried toroids of fructotic splendor by the dozen or half-dozen.  The Mark II Donut Robot runs from 10:30 (roughly) to 6:00 (sharp).  Nick the Donut Kid runs a tight robot.  Good luck getting a donut at 10:29 or 6:01.  If you want cinnamon sugar, just whisper to him, “A sprinkle of SIN, SUGAR.”

Speaking of Peachtown, we share this image of a road sign from nearby Cayuga County.  Something to reflect upon… Chonodote.

Thank you for being reflective and mindful Farmketeers.

Love to y’all.  Hope to see you at The ‘Creek.

Posted in Crop Alerts & Farm Buzz

Sound the Horn, er, Hen of Plenty! Pick Your Own Apples, Peaches, Vegetables, and Flowers; Come to Saturday Class on Medicinal & Traditional Uses of Peaches; Get Sweet Cider & Fresh Donuts.

DEAR FARMKETEERS:  Uni means “one,” and corn means “horn.”  Thus unicorn means “one horn.”

Meanwhile copia means “plenty,” as in copious.  So cornucopia means “horn of plenty,” from the Classical Latin.  But words slip and slide over the eons.  Nowadays, in Modern Latin – the language of the agricultural classes – the meaning of corn has shifted ever so slightly from “horn” to “hen.”

And what’s THAT we hear?!  Is it the Hen of Plenty?!  Why yes it is!  Sounding in the hills above Ithaca!  Archie is smashing the keys in a bombastic rendition of the official theme song of Indian Creek Farm, trumpeting the dawn of picking season proper and an abundant local harvest.  (Imagine a jazz band braying on their horns of plenty.  Fruit flying higgledy-piggledy and ‘Creekniks dancing like peaches kasplonkered on apple wine.)

Yes, Farm Fans, it’s THAT time.  The one day every year when we let the barnyard beasts host an open mic on the family heirloom instruments.  This year it coincides with the announcement that SANSA apples are ready to pick.  Sweet and acidic Sansas, lovely red Sansas, the first “real” apples of the year for many people.  Sansa is a 1970s cross bewteen Akane and Gala, inheriting the sweetness of an early Gala along with bright acid befitting the late August ripening date.  Come pick now in Row 10 of the Dwarf Orchard.

How to avoid heartbreaking waste in apple season:  Pick with 2 hands, steadying the branch and/or nearby apples with your non-dominant hand, then twist off your target apple with your best paw.  Don’t let an apple fall, then knock another apple below, causing a chain reaction.  Multiply that effect by thousands of pickers… and you got a defeated apple farmer.  Please read our Farm School tutorial, How to Pick an Apple.

Peaches are picking.  We enter week 3 of peach season with a good crop to be picked – and much more to ripen NEXT week.  However, fans of “donut” peaches will be shocked and dismayed:  The donut peaches will be picked clean by the weekend.  What?!  Sorry, you heard right.  Although we hadn’t opened the donuts for picking – indeed we had many of the donut trees ribboned off – they got picked well ahead of schedule by rogue fanatics of these fat little frisbee fruits.

How to avoid heartbreaking waste in peach season:  Don’t squeeze peaches on the tree.  Exhibit A is a cold, hard thumbprint.  Straight up peach abuse.  Somebody was testing ripeness.  They found out it was ripe.  They left it on the tree.  It takes an experienced eye to judge ripeness in a peach by looking.  Best thing to do is:  Ask us which rows are ready.  Pick those peaches.  Take them home even if they feel a little firm.  In 2 days you’ll have a perfect peach.  Stick them in a brown bag to expedite.  Up to you whether you squeeze a peach after it’s yours.  We won’t be judgy.

You can also get peaches at the stand – priced slightly BELOW the u-pick price!  That’s just the way it works out pound for pound on average, when you buy a peach peck for only $22.  So nobody needs to go home without peaches, even if the u-pick orchards have been scoured by the time you arrive.

“Peaches:  Medicine, Botany, and Traditional Uses” – Special farm class on Saturday, August 24, 11 AM.  Did you know that peach leaves smell and taste delightful?  It’s not common to think about this tree beyond its juicy, fuzzy fruits, but that is exactly what this class is about.  Cali Janae, “Cal,” is a local herbalist and botanist who has traveled and lived in the Southeastern US where they grew familiar with the region’s iconic peach.  From first aid to craft cocktails, this class will flesh out the amazing plant we call a peach.  Meet at 11 AM at the Big Table near the playground.  Class attendance is free with a suggested donation of $10-20, with all proceeds going to support medicine making for herbal patients at the Ithaca Free Clinic, ithacahealth.org.

Tomatoes for u-pick and boxed at the stand.  We’re not quite in tomato boom season, though hundreds of Farmketeers have left with nice hauls of tomatoes.  There are many varieties and the abundance of each varies with the days.  You simply have to hunt around when you get here.  It’s hard to give a detailed report when that might be out of date within a day.

Eggplants for u-pick and boxed at the stand.  Several varieties of eggplant, all ready or ripening.  Hard to tell you which types you will find in abundance when you arrive.  Please enjoy exploring around.

Sweet and hot peppers for u-pick and boxed at the stand.  Many varieties, all ready or ripening.  Hard to tell you which types you will find in abundance when you arrive.  Please enjoy exploring around.

Donuts Saturday & Sunday 10:30 to 6:00.  Get your freshly fried toroids of fructotic splendor by the dozen or half-dozen.  The Mark II Donut Robot runs 10:30 (pretty sharp) to 6:00 (sharp).  Nick the Donut Kid runs a tight robot.  Good luck getting a donut at 10:29 or 6:01.  Get jugs of fresh-pressed cider by the gallon and half-gallon.  “Orchard Ambrosia,” we call it.

Love to y’all.  Hope to see you at The ‘Creek.

Posted in Crop Alerts & Farm Buzz

Why Sh*t Happens and What You Can Do About It; the Occult Power of Alabaster Platypus; Pick Your Own Apples, Tomatoes, Eggplants, Peppers, and Flowers; Sweet Fresh Cider and Weekend Donuts.

DEAR FARMKETEERS:  Three-year-old kids are the world’s top Why Machines.  “Why, Mommy?”  “Why, Papa?”  “Why why why why?”  You give your best shot at an appropriate answer each time, only to secure another “Why?” in return.  Then one day you hear a longggg string of whys.  You’re feeling a tad frayed, not as composed as usual.  You surprise little Bobby – and yourself – with this dubious classic from the good parenting manuel:  “Because sh*t happens!!”  To which the wee Bobbino simply says, “But why?”

“Alabaster Platypus.”  That’s your answer.  Works every time.  No child in the history of why has replied with a why.  Sounds like nonsense, but try this mystical utterance on your own whippersnappers.  It breaks the chain.  Stems the tide.  Magic like the number 42.  Yes, Farm Fans, “Alabaster Platypus” is a disruptive technology of surprising power, and you can use it as needed.  But there are others.

“Esmeralda Jalapeño.”  You will find Esmeralda apples and jalapeño peppers at the farm stand, plus an evolving bounty of peaches, roma tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, golden tomatoes, Italian eggplants, fairytale eggplants, Japanese eggplants, bell peppers, hot peppers, blueberries, cucumbers, garlic, small potatoes, cauliflower, zucchini, Pristine apples, local honey, local syrup, local pottery and… and fresh sweet cider!  Herbs and flowers you can cut right in front.

“Apostrophe Apple!”  Now picking:  William’s Pride apples (pictured) and Pristine apples.  Find them both in Row 10 of the Dwarf Orchard.  On your walk to Row 10 you can debate whether it is properly Williams’, William’s, or Williams.  The internet has not decided.  When you get to Row 10, you can pick the deliciously lemon-yellow, sweet-tart Pristines.  But, further down the row, many of you will finally pick your first apples of the year, because William’s Pride are RED APPLES which seems to be what most Farmketeers have been holding out for.  The yellow and green apples which kicked off the season were treated with precisely the contempt we have come to expect.  Sigh.  For the next 10 weeks there will be new apples to pick every week.  Yes, to answer your many, many emails… there will be Honeycrisp.

“Fuzzy Fruit, Hidden Pit.”  Now picking:  Peaches, but very thin picking this week.  You all did a wonderful job of devouring the first wave.  Thank you.  And lotssss more peaches will ripen soon, perhaps next week.  Stay tuned to the Fresh Crop Alerts.  Thanks to farm fan @dolcedelightithaca for this pic from her peach picking session.

“Nightshade, My Child, Nightshade!”  Now picking:  Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant.  We get DOZENS of emails and social media messages about which varieties are ripe on any given day and how plentiful they are.  The short answer is:  “Alabaster Platypus.”  You sorta have to come out here and hunt around.  It changes each week – each day, even.  Depends on sunshine and warm nights and how many pickers beat you to the best picking.  There are many varieties of tomatoes, some ready, some ripening.  As of TODAY, it’s mostly romas that are ready in any abundance.  There are also many varieties of sweet and hot peppers, all ready or ripening.  Same with eggplant, ready and ripening.  Look under the leaves, try new varieties, pick yourself a nightshade hodgepodge.

“Gomphrena Bouquet Cornflower Bucket.”  If your kid says “why?” to that one, you have our permission to say, “Because.”  Meantime pick your own zinnias, snapdragons, verbena, gomphrena, celosia, cornflower, statice, strawflower, scabiosa, sweetpeas, salvia, aster, dianthus, and algeratum.  Also get beautiful bouquets in mason jars, handcut and arranged by ‘Creekniks.

“I, Donut Robot.”  Get your freshly fried toroids of fructotic splendor by the dozen or half-dozen.  No rugrat will ever ask “Why?” when presented with cider donuts and an encouraging parental smile.  Except the gluten-free prodigies.  Beware:  The Mark II Donut Robot runs Saturday and Sunday 10:30 to 6:00.  Nick the Donut Kid runs a tight robot.  Good luck getting a donut at 10:29 or 6:01.

“Orchard Ambrosia.”  Nothing but 100% fresh-squeezed fruit, unpasteurized like the old days.  Get gallons and half-gallons each week, as the apple mix changes with the seasons.

“Plastic Pilates Whale.”  Goodbye forever to single-use plastic bags at the farm stand.  Whales eat 3 big meals of plastic each day — we don’t need to feed them more.  Please BYOBags or buy our reusable farm totes in 2 sizes for $1.50/2.00.  They work great for your groceries, picnics, and pilates gear.  Similarly, cardboard “peck” boxes for picking fruit and vegetables… New farm policy is they cost a buck unless you pick a full peck, then they’re free.  Just to get us all tuned in to the costs of waste.  THANK YOU so much to the best farm fans anywhere for helping us make these changes promptly and enthusiastically.

“Free Moonshine.”  You might be crossing a line saying that to your fledglings; just don’t cross any state lines.  But if you can find a sitter on a Saturday afternoon, reserve your free private hard cider tasting at Eve’s Cidery in Van Etten.  This pomological power trio – Ezra, Celia, and Autumn (and cider intern Cathryn behind the camera) – is hosting a few lucky people at a time on Saturdays at 2:00 PM.  Sign up for your slot now, because people will get the apple season buzz within a week or two and the prized tasting slots will book up.  These farmers are creative and hardworking people who make critically acclaimed ciders – and they’ve been trailblazers and trendsetters in the Finger Lakes cider scene since the beginning.  Their apples are 100% estate grown in Van Etten, south of Ithaca, many on trees from our nursery and rootstocks that Dad developed during his time at Cornell.  And yes, the private tastings are free, but umm HELLO, buy some bottles to take home.  Eve’s Cidery has an outsized, national reputation, but they’re a tiny family farm business.  You can also order online.  Thank you for supporting small farms.

Love to y’all.  Hope to see you at The ‘Creek.

Posted in Crop Alerts & Farm Buzz