Bumper crop for Orchard Creek Ranch | PostIndependent.com
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Bumper crop for Orchard Creek Ranch

Colleen O’Neil
coneil@postindependent.com
Kristie Steiner, owner of Orchard Creek Ranch, demonstrates how to pick apples off a tree.
Colleen O’Neil / Post Independent |

DIRECTIONS
Take Canyon Creek exit 109 off of Interstate 70 east of New Castle and follow the signs.

Last year, Orchard Creek Ranch’s apple picking season was only two weeks long due to a hard freeze. But that freeze helped the trees rest up to produce bountiful bushels of apples this fall.

This year, Orchard Creek Ranch will be open till the apples are gone — and it’s having a sale this weekend, so apples will be half price.

Orchard Creek’s apples are all organic, and they grow on heritage trees, some more than 70 years old. The orchard has three varieties: Rome, Double Red Delicious (which are different from the mealy Red Delicious apples you buy in the store) and Jonathan apples. Each variety is good for cooking and eating, and they can keep for up to three months in the refrigerator.



“None of us can buy [apples] from the store anymore,” owner Kristie Steiner said with a laugh.

But the apples don’t grow by themselves — raising big, healthy apples takes constant maintenance.



Each July, Steiner and her employees thin the trees by 50 percent so the apples are evenly spaced and have abundant access to the sun. When they spray, they use a mixture of peppermint castile soap and canola oil, which repels bugs without adding any toxins to the trees.

A sprinkler system keeps the trees hydrated, and a local beehive helps them pollinate and reproduce year after year. Workers constantly trim the trees to keep them healthy.

This weekend, there are so many apples that Steiner is having a sale to get them off the trees. Starting today, bags of apples will be half off for picking. The ranch, which is the only one of its kind in Garfield County, also sells pressed apple cider and apple chips.

“We don’t make any money from this,” Steiner said. “It’s more for the people. We love to see folks come out and pick with their families.”


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