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Gizdich Ranch

Started: 2021-10-20 21:35:35

Submitted: 2021-10-20 22:35:08

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator goes to pick apples outside of Watsonville

Last year, we went to pick apples near Watsonville at the end of October, when the apple trees had mostly been picked clean by waves of people. This year we went to pick apples early in the season, on the first day Gizdich Ranch opened.

We drove to Gizdich Ranch, past Watsonville on the far side of the Pajaro Valley, nestled below the hills on the eastern side of the valley. We parked in a dusty parking lot at the end of a dusty road, filled with family cars. (Many people seemed to have come from Santa Clara County on the other side of the mountains.) We stopped by the entry kiosk and picked up a photocopy of a hand-drawn map identifying the various apples that were ready to be picked, and headed into the orchard.

Julian, Kiesa, and Calvin at Gizdich Ranch
Julian, Kiesa, and Calvin at Gizdich Ranch

The main road through the orchard led us down a gentle hill, past several rows of apple trees that were roped off as not ready to be picked yet, and several rows of blackberry bushes also roped off as out-of-season. At the bottom of the hill we found an apple variety I wasn't immediately familiar with, Newtown pippin. (When I got home and tasted the apple, it tasted delightfully tart and earthy, just as I expected from an apple that I had picked myself from a dusty tree at the bottom of a hill.)

Julian in the apple orchard at Gizdich Ranch
Julian in the apple orchard at Gizdich Ranch

The trees were packed with apples, all within arm's reach (since the trees were pruned to allow an adult to reach the entire tree for easy picking). There were plenty of apples low enough on the tree for Julian to grab as many as he wanted.

Julian and Kiesa pick apples at Gizdich Ranch
Julian and Kiesa pick apples at Gizdich Ranch

The trees had a larger variety of sizes than I'm used to in grocery stores. The largest apples were the size of baseballs, running in size down to the size of golf balls. (The smallest apples were small enough that I could eat them whole, but I never did because I didn't want to chew the core and stem.) I picked some smaller apples because they were cute and because I was amused by the variety in sizes and because Julian will eat multiple apples per day so maybe he'd appreciate a smaller size.

Calvin walks through the apple orchard at Gizdich Ranch
Calvin walks through the apple orchard at Gizdich Ranch

After we'd picked what we hoped were enough newtown pippin apples, we headed back up the hill to the rows of gala apples.

Julian walks through the gala apples
Julian walks through the gala apples

The gala apples were just as plentiful on the trees, and just as accessible as the newtown pippin apples, with the added bonus of looking bright and red on the tree. (The orchard also had red delicious apples in season, which looked even brighter and more red and closer to the platonic ideal "apple" on the trees, but I am generally unimpressed by red delicious apples so I filled my bag with other apples.)

Julian picks a gala apple at Gizdich Ranch
Julian picks a gala apple at Gizdich Ranch

After a half-hour in the orchard, we'd filled our bags so we headed back to the check-out at the edge of the parking lot. (For all of the apples we paid $2/pound, plus the adventure of going out and picking one's own apples.)

Julian, Kiesa, and Calvin after picking apples at Gizdich Ranch
Julian, Kiesa, and Calvin after picking apples at Gizdich Ranch

After checkout out with our apples, we walked across the street to the orchard's retail operation, where they were selling slices of pies (with a very long line) and whole pies (with a much shorter line). We bought a whole cherry pie, then headed back home through Watsonville to Santa Cruz. (On the way back home we stopped to pick up a skeleton for Halloween.)

Now that I live next to commercially-cultivated apples, it occurred to me that I can plant apple trees in my own yard and probably get a reasonable crop (at least once the trees have had time to mature; but I'm willing to invest for the future). But then I remembered that I can pick up inexpensive and tasty commercially-grown apples, in more varieties than I can count, at my local grocery stores and farmer's markets (and, when the season is right, I can drive to the other side of Watsonville and pick them myself), so what I really want to do is plant fruit that I can't trivially buy in the store. So what I want to do instead is plant persimmons and figs, which grow well in Santa Cruz but don't transport well, so they're more expensive to buy in the grocery stores.

Gala apples at Gizdich Ranch
Gala apples at Gizdich Ranch

The apples we picked ended up lasting about two weeks, and I was tempted to return to pick more, but I settled for grocery store apples. I can say that I enjoyed picking apples outside of Watsonville and we will return again next year for more.

Whoa! Now we can always know exactly where we are at every
moment...and still have no clue what is going on.
- Willy, upon learning about Ted's GPS acquisition, 11 November 2003