Sunday, October 4, 2009

Custom Grafting!

Now taking custom grafting orders for Spring 2010.

Would you like to have a tree just like Grandma’s or maybe your favorite apple variety fresh from your own tree? We can custom graft one for you!

Do you need help with where to plant your family orchard? We’d be happy to help you choose the right site and tree spacing. We also will be available to consult or personally train you in tree training and maintenance.

We prefer to graft onto MM111 semi-dwarf rootstock. MM111 produces a strong tree that can really take the high winds of Kansas well. It is a long lived tree that will produce a mature tree in the 15-18 foot tall range and produces fruit much sooner than standard trees. Because of personal testing and customer feedback this is our rootstock of choice and is what we graft 80% of our trees on.

We take orders for spring grafting until the end of February. Because we are dealing with Mother Nature we cannot guarantee that we will get 100% of our grafts to take successfully so we ask that you give us possible alternates in your order. All trees will be grown in reused or recycled containers with a mix of potting and native soil for a balance of vigor and reduced transplant shock. We prefer to offer trees in pots as this allows you as much time as you need to get your site ready. You can plant your tree at any point up until first snowfall.

We charge $15 for a custom grafted potted tree with a $5 deposit per tree upon order. We also have access to thousands of other apple varieties not listed on our website so please email us your request and we’ll do our best to find your variety. Please note that we will not graft patented varieties.

Other orchards to visit...

We have been picked out for the season. We are still offering tours for school groups & organizations and & our very popular bonfire bonanzas. Call us for more information.

If you would still like to experience picking your own apples, please visit these orchards. We may very well see you there!

Fieldstone Enterprises
This is an amazing orchard about 40 minutes from here with large trees & lots of varieties!
Contact Info:
7049 E 149th St, Overbrook, KS 66524
Tuesday-Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm
Closed Monday
Sunday 1:00pm-6:00pm
Directions from WWO:
Take Edgerton Rd S. Turn R onto US-56. Turn R. Travel about 34 miles to S Stubbs Rd. If you reach the town of Overbrook, you went too far. Turn R. Go about 1 mile to E 149th St. Turn L. Orchard is on the L & well-marked.
Directions from US-56:
Take US-56 West past Baldwin City about 19 miles to S Stubbs Rd. If you reach the town of Overbrrok, you went too far. Turn R. Go about 1 mile to E 149th St. Turn L. Orchard is on the L & well-marked.

Vertacnik Orchard
A great little orchard just 18 minutes from here between Eudora & Lawrence off of K-10. They have pick your own, & picked varieties of Red & Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Jonagold, Gala, Gold Blush & Granny Smith.
Contact Info:
1403 E 1850 Rd, Lawrence, KS 66045
Saturday 9:00am-6:00pm
Sunday 12:00noon-6:00pm
Directions from WWO:
Take Edgerton Rd North. Turn L onto W 143rd St which becomes N 900th Rd/CR-458. Turn R onto E 2200th Rd/CR-1061/CR-458. Turn L onto N 100th Rd/CR-458. Turn R onto E 1900th Rd/CR-1057. Turn L onto N 1400 Rd/CR-442. Turn R onto E 1850 Rd (portions unpaved). Orchard is on L.
Directions from K-10:
Take K-10 W towards Lawrence. Take the E 1900 Rd/CR-1057 exit. Turn R onto E 1900 Rd/CR-1057. Turn L onto N 1400 Rd/CR-442. Turn R onto E 1850 Rd (portions unpaved). Orchard is on L.

Pome on the Range Orchard & Winery
A 25-year old family owned & planted orchard with 25 acres of apples just 30 minutes from here off of I-35.
Contact Info:
2050 Idaho Rd, Williamsburg, KS 66095
Monday - Saturday 10:00pm-6:00pm
Sunday 12:00noon-5:00pm

Directions from WWO:
Take Edgerton Rd South. Turn L onto US-56. Turn R onto E 4th St. Turn L onto E Nelson St which becomes Sunflower Rd. Take I-35 S. Exit 176. Turn L onto Idaho Rd (portions unpaved). Orchard is on R.
6 miles southwest of Ottawa, KS on I-35 at Homewood Exit 176. Turn L onto Idaho Rd (portions unpaved). Orchard is on R.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Apple of the Month - Granny Smith

Our featured apple this month is Granny Smith, an Australian apple with a great story.

Maria Ann “Granny” Sherwood-Smith was born in Peasmarsh, Sussex, England in 1800 and emigrated to Australia with her husband Thomas Smith when she was 38 years old. Late in her life Maria had a compost pile stacked up with the pulpy remnants of some French Crab apples. The French crab tree had been pollinated by an unknown tree in the area. From the seeds in this compost sprang the now famous “Granny Smith” apple. Maria did not live to see how popular her tree would become. She passed away two years before people started grafting the tree in earnest. By the end of the century the apple was winning awards and being cultivated all over the world. The apple is famous for its tangy refreshing taste and firm coarse texture. Granny Smith apples are recognizable the world over. Because of the trees adaptability to various climates and the fruits ability to withstand lengthy time in storage it has become one of the world’s greatest commercial varieties. To this day a festival is held in Eastwood, New South Wales, Australia to commemorate the life and achievements of Maria Smith drawing in 100,000 people. We grow this heritage apple at Wagon Wheel Orchard not just because of its hardy nature but because it has a rich story with an incredible legacy.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Family Farm Fun Day Was a Hit!

Our first Family Farm Fun (FFF) Day was a huge hit! We aren't really sure who had more fun - the adults or the kiddos!

If you haven't read the prior posts, a FFF Day does not involve picking fruit. When you have picked all of the fruit that is currently ripe and we are in a waiting period for the next varieties to ripen, we will have a FFF Day filled with activites like field corn lawn darts, spinning gourds, biting for apples, hedge apple heads, apple naming contest, hay rack rides, maze, slushies, BBQ, feeding the goats, chickens, ducks, catfish and more!
At your request, we are now planning on remaining open after we get picked out for the day so you and your family can still enjoy these activites down on the farm! We will update the Picking Report to the right that we have been picked out for the day and will remain open during the hours posted. We will place a sawhorse at the entrance to our drive stating "No Fruit Picking" and "Family Farm Fun Day".

Join us for our next FFF Day - tomorrow, Saturday 9/19 after we are picked out until 4:00pm!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Family Farm Fun Days? Poll results say ABSOLUTELY!

Are you just looking for something fun to do with the kids? Looking to get out of the house & away from the city? Want to breathe some crisp fall air & experience some good old-fashioned fun? How bout some home-cooked BBQ, slushies, feeding some farm animals & trained catfish, hay-rack rides, a maze, & more down on the farm - a real working orchard?

With the recent unexpected press & amazing word of mouth advertising, we have nearly been picked out for the year! We only have a couple of days of picking left in the season. But we aren't done having fun yet! We love hearing the stories from our visitors about how they had the best time on our orchard & that the delicious fresh fruit was just a bonus! So the thought occurred to us...what if we opened up & just didn't pick fruit? You said you would come! So we are going to give it a try this Saturday September 12 from 12noon - 4pm! If it is as successful as you say you want it to be, we will consider doing more of these! Come hungry & for some good old-fashioned fun!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Reserve your pawpaws today!

We've started harvesting our pawpaw patch! As we continue harvesting the pawpaws, we will sell them out of our Trading Post shop during our open hours. Because the fresh fruit is so rare and very difficult to get, we will be taking pawpaw "reservations"! Simply email with your name, phone number and quantity of pawpaws desired. They are $3 per pound (approximately 3-6 fruit per pound). We will fill the reservations in the order in which they are received. If your reservation is unable to be filled, we will call you to let you know!

Fresh and local, a pawpaw is a genus of eight or nine species of small trees with large leaves and large fruit - a large edible berry with a flavor somewhat similar to both banana and mango and with more protein than most other fruit. It is native to eastern North America and includes the largest edible fruit indigenous to the continent! They are typically understory trees found in deep fertile bottomland and hilly upland habitat. And did you know that the Common Pawpaw is the only larval host of the Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly! Pawpaw pulp is used primarily in baked dessert recipes - pies, cheesecakes & breads, as well as for brewing pawpaw beer. Pawpaw can be used in place of bananas in many recipes! Check out these sites for some fantastic recipes:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Parking Opens When the Orchard Opens!

We are excited to open today for apples and pears! And Prairie Fire BBQ will be here with their pulled pork!

We open our parking when the orchard opens. So, today, parking and the orchard both open at noon!

So please plan your drive accordingly and arrive sometime after noon when we remove the barricade from the drive and hang the open sign. Please remember that there is only one drive into and out of the orchard - the gravel drive just south of the Wagon Wheel Orchard sign. Do not pull into any other drive in the area - they are all private drives.

We made this decision based on feedback from customers of other pick your own establishments which indicated that when parking opens early, guests come early and wait. What tends to happen is the "day after Thanksgiving shopping rush" where people anxiously wait for the doors to open so they can rush and get what they came for. Early arrivers don't wait in their car for opening, they get out, unload, get ready and when we hang "open" they grab their bag and go, often picking much of the available fruit. Those arriving at opening still have to park, get out, unload and get ready before they can begin picking.

We appreciate your understanding and look forward to seeing you this afternoon!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bonfire Bonanza!

Friends & family...hay-rack rides...pond-side bonfire...ooey gooey smores...
This can all be yours here at Wagon Wheel Orchard when you reserve your very own Bonfire Bonanza!

We are taking appointments for our Bonfire Bonanzas from May through the end of October!

Here's how it works:
*Call 913-893-6050 and reserve a night for your private party (groups of up to 30 with a maximum of 15 adults). A $50 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your reservation.
*Members of your group arrive at Wagon Wheel Orchard on your reserved night between 6:30 & 6:50pm.
*Bring your own coolers, beverages, (weiners for roasting if you want!), chairs & blankets & load it all up on our hay-rack.
*The hay-rack leaves at 7:00pm to take your private party to the bon-fire ring in the meadow by the pond.
*We provide fixins for s'mores for everyone including the forks for roasting the marshmallows & trashbags for collecting all of your trash when you are done.
*Cook your dinner, play some games, tell scary ghost stories, look at the stars, visit with your friends & family.
*The hay-rack returns at 10:00pm to pick your party up and return you to the parking area.

Cost is only $5 per person. This includes the hay-rack rides to & from the pond, s'mores for everyone & wood for the bonfire!

We look forward to being a part of your memories & traditions here at Wagon Wheel Orchard!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

We're picked out for the weekend 08/22 & 08/23!

Thank you to everyone who came to visit us today! We are picked out of all available fruit for this weekend and will not open Sunday 08/23. Watch the picking report on this blog for the coming weekend! We will reopen as produce becomes available! Have a great week!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mary Pepitone truly is a peach!

A juicy thank you to everyone who has called us in response to the Kansas City Star Cream of the Crop article written by Mary Pepitone that ran Wednesday, August 19 ( It was so much fun to have Mary visit, and yes, she was slurping and yes, her hand and arm were a sticky mess!

One clarification...if you stick your peach pit on the windowsill to plant someday, it won't grow! It will dry out and die! Stick it in a baggie with a wet paper towel and plop it in your refrigerator! The pit has to think it has gone through winter before it will grow! Once it has sprouted, you will be able to plant it! So get that pit in the fridge, Mary! We want to see that Peppy variety grow!

One more thing...if even one-tenth of those who called since Wednesday come on Saturday, there will not be any parking and there will not be any fruit left by the end of the day! So, please keep in mind that this is not the last weekend for juicy slurpy peaches! We still have a couple of varieties that we will be picking into September! Also, please visit this blog and the picking report to the right before coming as we will update it as produce is picked out and change our hours if necessary!

And remember that when you do come, please respect the privacy of our neighbors. We only have one driveway into and out of our property by the Wagon Wheel Orchard sign. Please do not pull into any other gravel drive. Thank you!

Friday, July 31, 2009

We will now open August 8th at 2:00pm!

It has been so cool these last few weeks that the peaches have slowed their growth down a bit! We are going to give them another week or so to sweeten up and we hope to see a few of you on Saturday, August 8th from 2:00pm-6:00pm for some apples! The peaches will follow towards the end of August! They will be worth your wait!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Picking Guidelines

To our loyal customers! We need your help to protect your fruit! As many of you who have visited now know, we explain our picking guidelines before giving you a bag and sending you out to the orchard to pick your fruit.

Unfortunately, we experienced some significant losses last season as a result of our guidelines not being respected. Apples were picked months before they should have been picked. School groups had to be turned away because the fruit on the tree that we had reserved for them and not flagged for public picking was picked anyway. Fruit was pulled off the tree and not twisted and lifted and major branches were broken.

Our picking guideline is:

We ask that you only pick from trees with the flags like the one in this picture! And we ask that you please twist and lift, do not pull, do not break our branches or there will be no fruit on that branch for you to enjoy next year.

That’s it! And here’s why!

We have 11 different varieties of peaches that ripen at varying times over 3 months and 166 different varieties of apples that ripen at varying times over 5 months and 6 different varieties of pears that ripen at varying times over 2 months so not all fruit that you see on the trees is ripe at the same time even if it looks like it should be! For example, the Arkansas Black apple is a beautiful red in August but is not prime for picking until November 1. Picked any earlier, this apple will not taste good.We make it easy for you to identify what to pick by flagging only those trees that are ready to be picked.

Trees that have fruit and are not flagged (and therefore not to be picked) fall into one of the following categories:

  • Trees that are not ripe and will not taste right if picked before their time.

  • Trees that we are experimenting with. We are trying to reestablish nearly extinct Kansas apple varieties. Many of our trees are heirloom varieties that have not been grown in our region for over 100 years and we are trying to preserve their existence.

  • Trees that are reserved for school, scouting and other children’s groups for educational purposes.

Our theory as to why there are so few pick-your-own orchards in the area (several of which have gone out of business just in the last two years) is that the disregard for picking guidelines and resulting damages make it more profitable for the farmer to pick their own fruit and sell to the grocery stores or in pre-picked markets.

We need your help! If you would like to continue to experience the pick-your-own environment that we have created for you, we need help with both educating others and preventing this behavior! So, we ask you, our loyal customers, to help us with this! These trees are your trees, this fruit is your fruit! If you want to enjoy this fruit, please help us protect it for you to enjoy season after season! Feel free to kindly remind others who may be picking from an unflagged tree about our "No Flag, No Pick" rule.

Thank you so much for your help.

First Time Visitors!

If you are coming out to visit our orchard for the first time or just need a refresher, here are a few things you should know!


  • Our picking guideline is NO FLAG, NO PICK. We will identify trees with fruit ready for picking by tying a ribbon flag to the end of a branch. Please do not pick fruit from any other trees even if it looks ripe.
  • Picking 101 - the proper way to pick tree fruit is to twist gently and lift up - do not pull down on the fruit or you will damage the fruit and the tree.
  • Many of our trees and plants are very young. To keep them safe and healthy so you can enjoy picking from them in the future, please do not touch them unless you have been taken there to pick.


  • We take cash and checks payable to Wagon Wheel Orchard.


  • There is only one entrance and exit to the orchard – this is the gravel drive located just to the south of the big Wagon Wheel Orchard sign. Please do not pull into any other gravel drives nearby as they are private property.
  • Parking does not open until the orchard opens. Please do not park or stop your vehicle on the 2-lane county road in front of our orchard waiting for us to open. If you arrive early, we ask that you drive around the block until we open the lot.
  • Park in front of the multi-colored flags in the gravel parking area first.
  • Parking is limited so please park to allow as many vehicles in as possible.
  • If the gravel parking area is full, you may park in the overflow grass lot designated by the multi-colored flags.

Hay Rack Rides:

  • The hay rack will be operating when we are properly staffed to take you to the fruit trees in the back, to tour the orchard, and to take you to the pond. There is no guarantee that we will be operating the hay rack at any given time.
  • Please be prepared to walk to and from the back orchard (1/3 mile or about 7-10 minutes one way) if you don't want to wait. If you have children, we suggest you bring a wagon!

Gourd Maze:

  • Enjoy the gourd maze during your tour of the back orchard but please do not touch any plant growing at the base of the maze walls - these are the gourd plants that give the gourd maze its name.

The Trading Post:

  • The Trading Post will be open with our famous slushies, honey straws, & seasonal produce.

Porta Potty:

  • We have one porta-potty with hand sanitizer located in the front orchard by the parking.

Working Farm:

  • Equipment, implements and supplies may be laying about since we are a working farm. Please do not disturb.


  • We do have neighbors and ask that you respect their privacy and property.
  • Enjoy watching the horses on the neighboring property. Please do not feed them. They do not belong to us and are not ours to feed.


  • We have goats, ducks & chickens!
  • Our goats love to be fed!
  • Our chickens are for laying eggs. We are supporting the older ones in their quest to become ugliest chicken at the JoCo Fair. There is nothing wrong with them, they are just molting and are supposed to look that way.
  • Our catfish in the back pond love to be fed!

We appreciate all of your continued support as we work to create a fun, family-friendly orchard!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Whew...the freeze wasn't so bad afterall!

The tree in the photo in the prior post (the one covered in all that ice!) actually has some very nice apples on it! The ice seemed to protect the blossoms from the much colder temperatures that followed! Whew!

Looks like the freeze got to the cherries and the early peaches, so opening day will have to wait till August 1! The frost naturally thinned the rest of the peaches and the apples so we are expecting a healthy crop of larger fruit than last year! The fewer the fruit on the tree, the larger the fruit!

We have been busy pruning and preparing our grounds for your visit! The ducks, chickens and goats are all doing well - the chickens are producing lots of eggs just for you! Don't forget to ask for them when you check out!

We are excited to bring back our famous Peach Slushies and welcome back Prairie Fire BBQ who will be here every Saturday and Sunday with their award winning selections featuring my favorite "Axel Grease" sauce!

As a licensed live plant dealer, we have stepped up our custom bench grafting, including heirloom varieties and many popular favorites. We will have many here for you take home and plant on your own property this season. We are also taking orders for Spring 2010. Just send us an email or call with your order and Rick will graft it just for you to pick up and plant next Spring.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Where's Spring?

OK...So, you may be wondering what all this crazy April weather is doing to our trees! We are wondering, too! It is always hard to tell what the full impact of the crazy weather is until a few weeks later. If a tree is in bloom when it freezes, the bloom can die and no fruit will form where that bloom was. If a tree is in bloom but the temperature is below 41 degrees, it is too cold for the bees to come out of their hives to effectively pollinate the blossoms. Some bees will make short trips out of the hive and the wind and other flying insects may pollinate the blossoms but the tree will likely produce less fruit than it is capable of!

So that being said...before the snow and ice from last week, our peaches were in full bloom and we have observed some damage but not complete damage, which is good. Only a few Cherry varieties have bloomed, the majority have not, which is good. Pears have all bloomed, which is not good. As far as the apples go, of the hundreds of apple varieties that we have, only a few types have bloomed (like the one in this photo we took the morning after the storm with the beautiful blooms encrusted in ice), which is good. Now, we have temperatures lingering near freezing which has stalled the development of anything else yet to blossom. We are pleased to say that we are focusing most of our new tree plantings and graftings on late-bloom types...which is good!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A White Winter!

One of the most common questions asked is:

Why are the trunks of the trees painted white?

Yes, it does look pretty cool & they are easier to see at night but there is actually a reason that has to do with the health of our trees.

As many of you know, Kansas weather can be strange - we have snow one day & you can go outside in shorts the next. In the winter, our young trees get “sun scald”. When the sun warms up the south side of a tree in the winter, it can melt the sap inside. This sap then freezes when it gets cold again at night or the next cold day. Just like potholes in the street, this repeated process can crack the trunk of the tree. We paint the tree trunks white so less of the sun’s energy is absorbed by the trunk, reducing the sun scald effect.

Painting the trees is a fun family affair as you can see from the picture of the kids painting peach trees. We put on some old white T-shirts and let the paint fly.

If you’d like to try this yourself we recommend that you use inexpensive “barn paint” & mix it 50-50 with water. This kind of paint can easily be purchased at almost any hardware store or paint retailer. We’ve found that this gets the best results & is easiest to apply. Cheap brushes are a must as the trees coarse texture will damage the bristles. We pick up 2 inch wide brushes for a buck or two.