Picking season has arrived at the orchard, although a bit later than usual. With a long, cool spring and lower-than-average temperatures this summer, our harvest dates are running a little behind schedule. Most varieties appear to be about 7-10 days behind, but there are still apples to pick this weekend! The upside of the cooler temps is that the apples have developed beautiful, vibrant red skin. Here's an update on the crop and what's up next:
Another Dinner in the Orchard is in the books! As a follow up to our first-ever dinner event held last August, Dinner in the Blossoms was one of three intimate gatherings we hope to host on the farm this year. Bringing people together to share a meal and enjoy to beauty of Nature's Bounty is something we have come to thoroughly enjoy and plan to continue with the encouragement of our guests. Those brave enough to attend during an unusually cool spring were rewarded with the nicest weather we've seen so far this season, a gorgeous sunset, and of course an incredible menu brought to life by Chef Rene Brunet and his team.
We tasked Chef Rene with showcasing a range of local ingredients in fun and flavourful ways and he certainly did not disappoint. As our guests arrived, they were greeted with fresh mini pizzas, bison sliders, maple candied walnuts, grilled lamb skewers, fresh fried Ontario perch and more. After sipping on a taste of 5 Paddles "Home Sweet Home", we toured the orchard blossoms which had emerged only hours before, as if on cue. For dinner, Chef Rene kept the fresh flavours coming as his team served up a spring salad with local asparagus and sprouts, bison carpaccio, apple wood smoked lamb stew, jerked chicken, quinoa salad and finished with a slice of chocolate raspberry torte. And to help wash it all down, Ian Mills from 5 Paddles Brewing offered expertly paired craft beer which complemented every course. We capped off the night with a taste of his own bourbon barrel aged barley wine; a rare treat from the cellar.
We owe a huge thank you to Chef Rene and his team for the incredible food and service, to Ian Mills for taking us on a expedition of flavour, to Jan Balser for bringing an elegant touch to the evening with spring decor, and to all of our guests who supported us by attending. We would also like to thank Thunderridge Bison and Willowtree Farm for supplying some of the wonderful local ingredients used for the dinner. We hope everyone had as much fun as we did!
Curious to see what you missed? Check out our gallery from the evening! Don't want to miss out on our next event? Sign up for our email list so you'll be the first to know about future dinners, events and special offers!
It's hard to recall a growing season that has been as slow to get going as this one. Three months ago, an early thaw had us thinking we were in for an early bloom. With above average rainfall and unusually cool temperatures, our apple trees have been producing foliage, but the flowers have been slow to emerge. Finally, nearly 10 days later than last year, our orchard is in full bloom.
Our local pollinators have also been a little slower than usual on account of the weather. Most bees and butterflies like warm sunny days to do their work. Although it's been cool, there's no need to worry! Pollinators are so good at what they do, farmers can have a crop set in as little as one day if the conditions are favourable. Thankfully, we have had at least two good pollination days since bloom began. The long-range forecast still looks cooler than we would like but there are signs that warmer weather lies ahead.
As we wait for things to pick up in the orchard, the timing was right to get our Pumpkin Patch planted this week. What used to be the Corn Maze will be home to over 25 varieties of pumpkins, squash, gourds and sunflowers this year. While our visitors may find it strange that we move our Maze and Pumpkin Patch around, rotating fields with different crops is an import technique used to prevent the build up of pesky pests and damaging diseases. We are looking forward to a few more changes at the farm this year. You'll have to visit this fall to find out what we've got in the works!
Andrea and Isaac sit on top of an old corn planter we use for pumpkins!
Some people may think that once all of the apples are picked and temperatures start to drop, us farmers stay holed up indoors keeping cozy by the wood stove with a good book in hand and hot drink close by. As much as we wish that were true, (well, sometimes it is!) there is lots to keep us busy in the winter months.
One of the ongoing tasks apple growers face in the winter is pruning. When temperatures are consistently below freezing, apple trees go dormant until the spring. Each of our 13,000 trees must be carefully inspected and trimmed back to help them produce a healthy crop. Apple trees tend to produce the best apples on wood that is 2-3 years old, so pruning out old and tired branches encourages the growth of new limbs where the fruit will develop size and colour the best. When the tree wakes up, it starts to send energy to the remaining branches where the fruit buds are waiting to swell and blossom. Ideally, all of our pruning is done before the sap starts to flow in spring which requires discipline and good winter gear to complete on time.
On days that are too cold or snowy to prune, we keep busy in the office; ordering supplies, catching up on paperwork, planning events, and mapping out the growing season. We also spend time attending conferences and meeting with other growers to share knowledge and explore new ways to improve our operation. Therein lies one of our favourite parts of horticulture: even after 40 years of growing apples, there is always something new to learn.
Are you interested in learning how to prune that old apple tree in your backyard? Have you planted some trees but aren't sure how to prune to keep them healthy? Let us know if you are interested in attending a pruning workshop this March! Better yet, sign up for our newsletter so you'll never miss an update on upcoming workshops and events.
It seems as quickly as it arrived, the apple picking season is coming to an end. Our Red Delicious, Empire and Fuji trees still have a bit of fruit left to pick and our market is stocked with Honeycrisp, Ambrosia, Cortland, McIntosh, Russet and Pears, however, this will be the last weekend we are open to the public. We will remain open until Halloween with a selection of carving pumpkins, squash, and ready-picked apples. Visitors are free to enjoy a walk around the property, explore the corn maze and take in the sights of the season. We hope to see you at the orchard!
Today is the last official day for apple picking at Nature's Bounty. Much of this year's crop has been picked by our visitors and the crew is spending the day cleaning up what's left. For the rest of the season, you may find a few odds and ends in the orchard if you don't mind a bit of walking. For those interested in pre-picked apples, we will have Honeycrisp, Empire, Cortland, Spy, Golden Russet and McIntosh in stock at the market.
The pumpkin patch will be open until closing day on October 31, with plenty of carving pumpkins left to choose from. There is also an assortment of colourful squashes pumpkins available at the market. We even have a few giant pumpkins left if you're looking for a showstopper for your Halloween display!
Much of the GTA got its first taste of winter this week with cold temperatures and a light dusting of snow. The frost hasn't affected the apple crop and we are still picking many varieties. As the season winds down, we hope to get as many apples off the trees as we can and expect our committed customers to be out in full force this weekend! Here's a guide to what's picking this weekend:
The last vestiges of summer are fading away and autumn is in the air. As the days get shorter and the cooler, nothing completes the feeling of fall like a visit to the orchard. Take a drive along a country road and soak in the vibrant colours of the changing leaves. Stop by Nature's Bounty for the season's best apples, a cup of warm cider and enjoy the crisp fresh air before the moment passes. There is plenty left to pick this weekend, including a few of our favourites:
Thanksgiving just wouldn't be complete without a trip to the orchard. That's why we are open all three days of the long weekend! At Nature's Bounty, we love that so many families make apple picking a part of their annual fall tradition. This week and weekend offers some of the best selection for apples and pumpkins as nearly everything is ready for picking. Check out the list below for some of the top picks for this weekend.
It's that time of the season when so many incredible varieties are available, it's hard to choose which apples to take home. You may be looking for a sweet, juicy eating apple or something tart and firm. If you're planning on baking your Thanksgiving pies, you may want a variety with a balance of flavour but a texture that holds up in the oven. Here's a guide to what's picking at Nature's Bounty and our recommended uses: