Get outside this fall to pick apples, pumpkins
October 18, 2016
The Pumpkin-nator is back!
New Castle Gardens, formerly Niemann's Gardens, between New Castle and Silt on Peach Valley Road, offers a way for pumpkin smashers to "get their smash on" without hurting anyone's feelings or drawing the attention of law enforcement.
"It's really a giant slingshot," explains Steve Cox, who, along with his wife Michelle, bought the place in May. Heavy-duty, surgical tubing attached to 10-foot fence posts propels pumpkins at targets or just into the field. "I've seen people launch them more than 285 feet," says Cox.
New Castle Gardens offers two Pumpkin-nators, hay rides, a hay mountain and slide for kids, potato sack races, a bean-bag toss, vendors, and a patch where you can purchase your own pumpkin every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October. Find out more at newcastlegardens.com.
Cox imports his pumpkins from a farmer outside of Delta, but the orange, green, white and warty pumpkins at Osage Gardens are homegrown. The farm borders the Colorado River between New Castle and Silt on River Frontage Road.
A hay mountain and maze are set up for kids. A tidy farm store stocks fresh, non-GMO eggs, direct from dozens of Rhode Island red chickens in the nearby coop, honey from Osage bees, greens, and more raised in greenhouses next door. The pumpkin patch spreads over two acres.
Sarah and Tom Rumery run the organic farm, which also supplies culinary herbs to Whole Foods stores across the West. They're proud to provide locally grown food. "People need to touch the earth and know where their food comes from," says Sarah.
Osage celebrates its 25th anniversary next year. The pumpkin patch and store are open seven days a week. Go to osagegardens.com for details.
If pumpkins aren't your thing, try heirloom apples at Orchard Creek Ranch just off I-70 at the Canyon Creek Exit west of Glenwood Springs. Kirstie Steiner operates the orchard, which has been there for more than half a century. Two hundred and fifty trees produce Rome, Jonathan, and double delicious red apples. "I'm still looking for my one pound apple," said Steiner. "I almost found it the other day."
When she purchased the place in 2007, the orchard was in bad shape. "The apples were tiny and had lots of holes," she explained.
But, after clearing the dead wood and trimming the trees, the apples responded. "The more we trimmed, the better the apples got," she said.
It's an organic operation. She sprays the trees with canola oil and Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap to deter bugs and sometimes sets pheromone traps.
The orchard has been open to the public in the fall for seven years. Steiner teaches customers how to pick a good apple and then turns them loose in the orchard. Apples cost $3 per pound. She also offers apple chips and fresh-pressed cider.
Orchard Creek Ranch is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October or until it starts snowing. More information is at orchardcreekranch.com.