Yesterday, we drove out to Monroe’s Orchard to meet up with friends for strawberry picking.  This was our first time visiting this farm.  We were greeted by great signage.  It was easy to know we had arrived.


After pulling in the driveway, we saw this sign and followed around to the market building.


We had the option of bringing our own containers and having them weighed before picking or buying containers.  Small quart sized containers were 20 cents.  Larger containers that held 8 quarts were $1.25.  I didn’t bring picking containers for myself, but I did have buckets for the kids.  So, I bought one of the large containers.  Debbie was working in the market and she was extremely nice to us.  This time of year, not much was going on in the market.  I suspect it would be much busier during apple season.

Then, we drove behind the building to the grassy area to park and head to the field.  Ella was there to greet us, demonstrate how to pick berries (for the kids) and assign us to a row.  The picking was pretty good and the berries were plentiful.  We didn’t think the berries were very sweet.  The field we were picking in was the Jewel variety which are a tarter berry.  Also, the weather this year has not been ideal for strawberries.  Many farms are having small berries, limited picking, and delays with ripening due to the weather.


Nick had to use the port-a-potty not once, but twice during our hour of picking.  Luckily, it was close to the picking field and very clean.  I’ve been to plenty of public bathrooms that weren’t as nice as this port-a-potty.  Two trips is better than accidents any day!


This is a typical shot of the kids.  Sally is busy eating a strawberry and Nick basket is empty.  He is always in search for the perfect berry and rarely finds them.  Many times, he ends up looking at weeds and running around the nearby fields.


We ended up with just over 5 pounds of berries.  They were $1.65 a pound + $1.25 for the container.  We ended up paying $10.00 total.


These berries were washed, hulled and then frozen whole.  They will be used in jam or smoothies.  I made sure to clean them last night since we had more picking planned for today.


Today, the kids and I set out to pick our first Ohio strawberries of the season.  We picked up my mom and headed to Walnut Drive Gardens.  They are located in Mogadore.  Since my mom lives in Akron, this was a good choice for us.  The picking fields are at a different location this year.  For those of you who picked peppers in the past, most of the picking will be at that location this year.  The address for strawberry picking is 2129 Randolph Road.  Randolph Road goes off to the left near route 43.  We actually missed that and kept going straight.  We ended up on Trares Road.  As long as you visualize the directions as you near 43, you’ll be fine.  This sign was near the road where Randolph turns near 43.  There was also a big Strawberries sign with an arrow that we past when we got on the wrong street.  I think Walnut Drive Gardens should think about putting on on Randolph near where it veers left.  It’s much safe to take the diagonal there too.  But, we found it and that’s all that really matters!


These signs were at the road.  You can’t miss it if you are on the correct street.  I will add if you miss where Randolph turns, you’ll come up to Congress Lake Road and it goes all the way through to Randolph.  It comes out near Paradise Lake Golf Course.


We stopped at the new red building and picked up baskets for picking.  The attendant gave us directions to go over the hill and park in the grass.  We were able to pick anywhere and the farther back from parking, the better picking should be.

The kids were excited to have grandma along.



The picking was great.  There were tons of ready to eat berries.


My mom posed with the kids by the field before we left.


Picking was $13.50 for an eight quart basket.  It was an extra $1 for the basket.  We didn’t have to get the berries out of the car to pay.  Instead of weighing them, it’s a flat charge for the full basket.  I’ve read that a quart averages 1.5 pounds.  I had 11 pounds in my basket.  I probably could have fit a few extra berries to make it closer to 12 pounds.


Mom picked a basket as well.  So, we ended up with over 20 pounds of berries during our outing.  The kids had fun and enjoyed a few berries as well.  I was also glad to see a port-a-potty near the picking field.  I didn’t ask if they had bathrooms in the new building, but I will try to find out.

We have several other farms to try out for strawberries this year, but I think Walnut Drive Gardens is probably going to be the most reasonably priced.  Hopefully, we’ll have time to return.

Most of these berries will be eaten in the next couple of days.  The rest will get frozen for smoothies.  I want to make jam again this year, but that’s not in the schedule this week.


It’s finally strawberry picking time!  It’s actually 2-3 weeks early for most farms, but with all of the hot weather, it seems like we’ve been waiting on them.  I was in Maryland over the weekend.  None of the Ohio farms were open for picking when I left (most are open now), but in Maryland picking was already going on for the last week or two.  I researched U-pick farms near Elkridge, where I was staying.  There were really only 2 places.  One was an hour away and Larriland Farm was 30 minutes away.  So, my niece, nephew and I headed to Larriland on Saturday morning.  Picking opened at 9AM, which I thought was a bit late, especially given the expected heat.  We arrived about 5 after nine and there were already lots of cars parked near the fields.


We picked up boxes and checked out the pricing.  The price seemed reasonable to me.  Later in the weekend, I found $2.99 a pound for CA strawberries on sale in the local grocery store.  To the right is the view of the field as we approached.  The farm was well organized and staffed.


It was L and L’s first time picking.  My niece was really into it.  Both kids did just fine.




I was surprised to end up with almost 12 pounds of berries.  It was very hot and sunny and that made for some tough picking.  We learned on our way out that they were about to turn on the sprinklers.  At $2.59 a pound, we spent $28 on berries.  They have been delicious.  We ate quite a few at my sister’s house this weekend.  We also made strawberry lemonade spritzers to drink.  In addition, I froze a gallon or so.  On our way out, I wanted to check out the U-Pick Swiss chard and spinach.  I had never picked either one.  I knew that I could just eat some spinach for lunch, so we spent a few minutes in the field.


We ended up picking 72 cents worth of spinach.  It was really an afterthought!


Larriland had a nice barn market near the entrance to the fields.  They sell cheese, produce and other items.  I bought some Italian Colby Cheese that was really good. Near the barn, there were port-a-potties set up with running water sinks.  There weren’t restrooms in the fields as far as we could tell.

Unfortunately, there was an accident near the entrance during our stay.  It looked like everyone was ok, but 2 cars were towed.


We had a good time and we’d visit the farm again.  This farm offers U-Pick in many different items.  I could see me taking the kids there again in June and July when I am in town.  I’m hoping for blueberries next!


In December, I did a post on our home-canned inventory that included my best guess as to what our original inventory was since I didn’t track specifics as I canned last season.  Since it’s been over 3 months, I thought it was time for an update.

amount canned Dec 14 Mar 27 unit item
22 18 7 quarts pear sauce
6 0 0 quarts chopped pears
18 13 11 quarts applesauce
2 0 0 quarts chopped apples
8 7 2 pints peach jam
5 5 3 1/2 pints peach honey
28 25 8 quarts peaches
6 3 1 1/2 pints strawberry jam
9 7 6 1/2 pints strawberry vanilla
4 4 4 1/2 pints strawberry lemon butter
6 5 3 pints apple-plum sauce
9 8.5 6 gallons tomato sauce (packaged in quarts and pints)
3 2 1 pints blueberry jam


For the most part, I think we are doing a good job of using up items.  I know for sure that the canned quarts of fruit and sauces will be gone soon.  I knew when I canned them that we would never have enough.  I’m glad that everyone in the house likes it.

For the jams, I did have to trash 2 pints of peach.  A couple of the jars weren’t sealed properly during one of my cupboard checks.  I’m not sure why we haven’t tried the strawberry lemon butter.  I think that will be the next jar that gets opened.  Our jam usage is directly correlated to our stock of yogurt.  As long as we are stocked on yogurt, we use quite a bit of jam.  Occasionally, we don’t have yogurt for several days and then use less jam.  I’m guessing that we’ll use most of it up before the next season starts, especially since peanut butter and jelly season is upon us.  It’s an easy item to pack for picnics.  Nick and Sally really enjoy eating lunch outside when the weather is nice.

It seems like I have extra of the tomato sauce, but it was also the last item canned.  Tomatoes for canning won’t be available until August, so there is plenty of time to use them.  I have extra tofu in the fridge right now, so I’ll be using some in lasagna this week.

It’s been fun to watch the empty jars stack up as we enjoy our bounty from last season.  I can’t wait to start over again for this season.


Yesterday, we headed back to Eddy Fruit Farm to meet up with friends for the last of the season’s apple picking.  It was a perfect fall day, complete with beautiful foliage.



The folks in the market let us know what was available and we once again found signs indicated we were in the right place.


We picked Mutsu and Melrose apples.


We were only there about a half hour.  We picked 17 pounds of apples and paid $15.30.  I didn’t get a photo of our apples, but it was two reasonable bags worth.


We’ve had a great time picking and exploring the farms this year.  I can’t wait for June strawberries!


Last Friday, the kids and I were in Delaware to visit my in-laws. Nick and Sally were especially happy to see grandma, grandpa and uncle Derek.  Our plans included a trip to go apple picking at Fifer Orchards.  The picking began with a wagon ride to the orchard.


This orchard has one type of apple available for u-pick at a time.  Friday, it was Stayman apples.  Apparently, this is a popular Virginian apple.  I was surprised because I never realized that apples would be regional, but I’ve never heard of them before.  Uncle Derek picked 18 apples.  Nick helped Grandma pick out some apples.


Sally and Grandpa really got into the trees.


Of course, Sally and Nick each sampled an apple.  Grandma and Grandpa said they don’t have many photos of them together, so we took this opportunity to take a shot.


We ended up with 48 pounds of apples.  They were $1.59 a pound.  The East Coast prices were definitely higher than the $.90 a pound that I paid at Eddy’s last week.  After our apple picking, we noticed this sign.


Derek and Nick grabbed a wagon and we were off to pick a couple of pumpkins.


It was fun for me to show Nick and Sally the pumpkin vines and explain that they grow like watermelon and squash.  Sally eyed this one.


Nick found one he liked too.  Derek and Sally took the wagon back for us.  I think the pumpkins were $5 each.


I was glad to see another farm this summer.  My mother in law gave us 2 of the bags of apples.  They are a tarter apple and we are going to make a couple of desserts and some apple sauce with them.  We’re hoping that Nick and Sally enjoy carving the pumpkins.


Last Tuesday, the kids and I had a date with friends to pick apples in the morning.  The friends had to cancel due to illness.  We made a date with other friends in the afternoon.  They also had to cancel.  Since I had promised the kids that we would go picking.  We went picking at Eddy Fruit Farm.


When you arrive and check in, there is a map on the table that shows what apples are ready, the type of apple and where they are located.  You decide what you want and drive to the correct place.  We were leaving for vacation on Wednesday, so I knew we had to take the apples with us. I planned to make applesauce at my sister’s house and we picked accordingly.  We ended up with early Jonathan, Macoun, and Golden Delicious.



When you are done picking, you put the apples on the scale and they tell you how much you owe.  We picked about 23 pounds.  We paid $20.70.


Then, I saw this sign!


At $20 per bushel, I was very tempted.  But, I couldn’t take pears home since I was leaving on vacation the next morning.  They offered to keep them in their cooler for me.  Sold!  Two bushels of pears were picked up this morning and I’m now working on canning them.


Today, we made a spur of the moment trip to Eddy Fruit Farm.  I happened to read on Facebook that they were having pick your own plums and they wouldn’t last long.  I called some friends and we met them at the farm at 4PM.  We never go picking in the afternoon, but today it worked.  The weather was great and Eddy’s is only 15 minutes from our house in Mayfield Heights.  They are the closest farm to our house with pick your own.

They are just south of Wilson Mills Road on Caves Road.  The photo on the left is the corner where you turn and the photo on the right is the entrance to the farm.


Nick and Sally both sampled a plum.  I never saw plums growing before so I enjoyed this picking experience.


While we were there, we picked a few apples.  Akane is the variety that happened to be close by.  They are a somewhat tart variety.


We didn’t pick too many since I still had apples at home to process into applesauce.  After the apples, we checked out the grapes.  The netting is to keep the birds away.  These are sweet reliance grapes.  They are seedless and I think were also past their prime.


The kids were fascinated with the netting and the grapes.


We returned to the market to pay for our bounty.  We also bought a few pears.  We ended up with about 5.5 pounds of plums, 5.5 pounds of apples and 2 pounds of grapes.  At 90 cents a pound, we paid $11.75.  In addition our pears were $6.  It’s hard to turn down your kids when they are begging you for fruit.


I’m thinking I’ll try a batch of jam with the plums.  I’m sure everyone will enjoy eating a few along with the grapes.  I’m mixing these apples in with my applesauce now.  I hope they aren’t too tart since I don’t put sweetener in my sauce.


I suspect we’ll have more apple picking when I return from vacation.  We’ll probably miss concord grapes since they are just coming into season now.  Next time we pick grapes, I need to bring a snippers or scissors, it will be much easier.

I’m off to check on the applesauce!


Today, I had a date with my good friend Theresa to go apple picking.  We made a last minute date yesterday when she heard me say “Honey Crisp”.  We headed out to Patterson Fruit Farm.  Despite the rainy day, we were greeted by two friendly people manning the tent.  There were U-Pick Crest Haven peaches today as well, but we were there for apples.


The apples here are priced on a scale based on how many you pick.  This sign aside, Honey Crisp were advertised at $1.50 a pound.  For reference, honey crisp are the most expensive apple.  They were $2.29 at Giant Eagle today (and they weren’t just picked off a local tree.)


The Honey Crisp apples were just a short walk from our car.  When we saw the water, we were extra glad to have our garden shoes and boots on.  It really wasn’t too bad.  It was just sprinkling when we actually picked and we had about 30 pounds of Honey Crisp apples from just a few trees.



After we Honey Crisp, we headed over to the Gala apples.  This was actually the Buckeye Gala apple.  We quickly picked about 40 pounds and then headed back to the tent to settle up.  Because we had 70 pounds total and a mix of the apples, they were priced at 95 cents a pound.  It worked out great.  If you go with a group of people to pick, you should pay together since that way you get the best overall price.  Patterson’s provides bags for picking and they hold quite a few pounds of apples.


The darker smaller red apples are the Gala and the other larger apple is the Honey Crisp.


After picking, we drove up to the market on Caves Road.  We purchased apple fritters and donuts for the family and headed home.  It was fun, short outing.  Apple picking will last about 5 weeks depending on the farm, weather, crowds, varieties, etc.  We plan to pick a few more times before the season ends.


Today we traveled to Walnut Drive Gardens in Mogadore, Ohio.  Mogadore is southeast of Akron and it is about 55 minutes from our house in Mayfield Heights.  Usually, we keep our picking to 45 minutes or closer, but we were meeting friends to pick and I like to go to Duma Meats a couple of times a year.  They are only a couple of minutes further than the farm.

We arrived at the farm at exactly 9AM.  I thought we were going to be late between an empty fuel tank and a need for the ATM on our way to the highway, but the traffic was reasonable.  The kids loved the market building since there was a sand box at the entrance.  It kept them quite busy.


With Nick still in potty training mode, a restroom with running water is also a plus.  Soon, we were at the raspberry bushes.  The picking was plentiful and so were the mosquitos.  I was glad that I had the bug repellent with us, but the kids still had a few bites near their feet and necks.


We also wanted to pick peppers.  The pepper picking was at field two.  We paid for our raspberries and headed over the other field.  It was about 5 minutes down the road.  The fields were marked with the type of pepper.  I was interested in yellow sweet and some green peppers.


They give you a 5 gallon bucket to use to pick and then you transfer the peppers when you are done.  It was really quick picking!   Our friends Debbie and Sarah are pictured with their buckets.


I ended up picking 2 buckets’ worth.  They were $9 a bucket.  I think that is a great price, especially for gorgeous peppers.  The raspberries were $3.25 a pound and we paid $8.29.  So, we picked about two and a half pounds of berries.


All in all, it was quite a successful outing.  We had a great time.