Winter is our quiet time here at Rulfs Orchard, when we can reflect on the previous season and start planning for the year ahead. In the retail store, which is open year round, Bob is typically found sitting in front of the wood stove chatting with our customers as they pick up fresh donuts and cider. We also continue to wholesale during the winter, delivering to grocery stores and other businesses in the area.
A lot of our time is spent on the farm from April through November. We cherish these few winter months to spend some time with family and friends and catch up on all those projects we have been putting off at home.
The kitchen never closes, so Patti is still in daily, making fresh pies and doughnuts for her loyal customers. She hand rolled over 10,000 pies during 2013, quite the accomplishment.
On the farm, Linda (Produce Manager) and Richard (Field Manager) have put in their flower orders and planning for the 2014 greenhouse season. At the beginning of March, they will start planting flowers, seed by seed, by hand. Linda says, “At this time, our goal is to organize and clean our greenhouses as sanitation in the greenhouses is very important. To disinfect and have a clean greenhouse is important to the plants for disease control. It also gives us a feeling of well-being to enter a clean, organized house. Happy Planting!”
Richard and Bob have been ordering seeds and plants and determining the field layout for the year. They have to determine field rotation and what products to plant more or less of based off the results of last year. Even though we aren’t harvesting crops, work still needs to be done in the fields and in the Orchard to prepare for the season ahead. In the apple orchard, it is important to prune the trees. Here is what our field manager had to say about pruning: “We prune to give trees proper shape and form. Trees that are pruned properly will produce high quality fruit. The objective is to have a strong tree framework that will support fruit production. Another goal is to remove any dead, diseased, or broken limbs. When pruning, we open up the tree canopy to allow more sunlight in which encourages flower bud development and good fruit set, for a high quality. Pruning also helps air movement within the trees which helps dry the trees out. This will minimize disease pressure and helps pesticide penetration. For me, a well pruned tree is pleasing to look at. We prune in the winter because this is when we have the most time to accomplish the task. After pruning, we will start to grind the brush up on the Orchard floor.”
It seems far off, but we have been planning our Easter Egg Hunt, the Strawberry Festival and planning for our 2014 corn maze theme. It has been a long winter in the North Country, but today, as the temps reached over 30 degrees and the sun was shining, there was an excitement in the air. Spring is on its way!