Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Family Adventure: Apple-Picking at Gizdich Ranch (Watsonville)

"Hmm, Mr. X, it looks like it's going to be 97 degrees out today. What should we do?"

"How about apple picking in the shadeless fields of Watsonville?"

"Hey, great idea!"

Yes, this probably wasn't the best apple picking day of the year, but with Gizdich Ranch's season ending next weekend, it was now or never. We had a blast with our pals despite the temperature, and came home with twleve pounds of Gala apples and tummies full of pie, ice cream and apple slushies. Yum!

Apple-picking at Gizdich is very similar to strawberry-picking -- the only difference is that you return home wondering what you're going to do with 12 pounds of apples, not 12 pounds of strawberries. The facilities are the same, the procedures basically identical. For a detailed description of Gizdich's location, hours, facilities (including pictures of the great pie shop, deli, and picnic area) and procedures, check out my berry-picking post. Then, for some apple-specific tips, read on:
  • Like I mentioned, apple season ends next Sunday at Gizdich. Til' then, they're open 9-5 daily. (Update: according to their website, the season has ENDED for 2015. Bummer.)
  • Procedures are basically the same as strawberry picking. Bring your own bag or bucket, or use one of theirs. (I recommend bringing your own if your toddler will want to help out -- theirs are very large.) If you do bring your own bucket, be sure to weigh in first.
  • When they tell you that the good apples are at the back of the aisles, and that pickings are slim at the front, LISTEN! We started down the aisles eager to pick, then found almost NO apples and spent 10 minutes trying to reach tiny ones in awkward places. After a bit, Mr. X went ahead and discovered that, yes, there really were normal-sized apples, within reach, further back, past the dirt path. Head back there if you're not in the mood to scale the trees for an apple the size of an apricot (though we were happy to have a bunch of those, as Toddler X is delighted with "his" apples -- in fact, he's munching on a whole one right now!).

    Mini apples for mini people
  • After picking, head over to the barn area for delicious pies, ice cream and apple slushies (they are SO good). We always grab a gallon of the apple juice so we can make our own yummy slushies at home. The area behind the barn has plenty of picnic tables (fortunately our group was able to grab one in the shade) and lots of toddler entertainment. Just as with strawberry-picking days, everyone has lots of fun.
  • Wear closed toe shoes and clothes you don't mind getting dirty/dusty. 
  • If you have an infant, I'd say wear him or her -- the aisles are wider and flatter than for strawberry picking, and they'd be doable with an all-terrain stroller, but it could be awfully bumpy at parts -- wearing/carrying a non-walker would be easier.
  • Bring a water bottle -- you can fill it up from the dispenser in the barn where they serve food -- as well as a hat and sunblock. It can get hot out there. (Though it's worth noting that on a foggy day, it can also get really chilly -- pack other layers.)
  • If you go on a sunny day, know that the tractor out behind the barn gets scorchingly hot on the sides -- the seating area is fine, but be careful if your toddler tries to climb up. 
  • They only have portable toilets at the picking field parking lot, but there are nice, normal restrooms back at the barn area -- it's a short walk, and worth it.
  • For the apples, they only have Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Royal Gala and Pippin in the orchard for picking, but they have other varietals (along with the ones you can pick) in the store across from the barn -- if you get too hot picking, but still want more apples, stop there on the way out. The jams in there are exceptionally good too.
I think that's it!

Happy picking!

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