Vegetables and fruit we grow…
Before we describe the varieties of vegetables we grow, you may want to know a little about the difference between hybrid vegetables and GMO (Genetically MOdified) vegetables. We provide this information since we were asked about the difference by a number of customers. First off, I must mention we do not grow any GMO vegetables or fruit. There are a number reasons for this which I don’t see the need to explain here. Hybrid plants, like hybrid animals and hybrid people, are simply crosses of two different pure strains of a species. Hybrid plants are noted for their vigor and heavy bearing. Most people in this country would be considered hybrids. For instance, if a pure bred Englishman married a pure bred French mademoiselle their children would be considered hybrids. The same is true when two pure bred strains of say sweet corn are crossed. In 1933 Burpee introduced their first hybrid seed corn — Golden Cross Bantam. This variety is a hybrid with one of its parents being the original tiny-eared Golden Bantam which Burpee introduced in 1902. Golden Cross Bantam has much larger ears, just as good taste and grows better than the original Golden Bantam, which is a pure strain.
We grow over 100 different varieties and strains of apples. However, we have only one or two trees of around 50 of the apple varieties we grow.. While some years we have a good supply of these rather hard to find apples, some years our supply of these apples are very limited. I will only mention here the varieties of apples where we have a rather substantial planting and you will then have a better chance of finding them, in season, at our market. Keep in mind that we have a wide variety of apples, such as Quinte and Melba that are picked in mid to late July, and you won’t likely find these extra early apples at our market if you come in August. We also have some extremely late apples, like Granny Smith, Fuji and Braeburn which we don’t pick until very late October (around Halloween) and even early November.
Usually the first apple we pick is Quinte. It often starts to ripen in mid July and even though it ripens so early, we wait impatiently to try our first fresh apple of the season and this apple is almost always a Quinte! Quinte’s quality, for such an early ripening apple, is fantastic. Even when we are still picking Quinte, our Melba apples start to get ready. This tender apple is a delight to look at and its quality is excellent. Harold B. Tukey, who was for many years a professor of horticulture at Michigan State University and its department chairman, once stated on his book on Dwarf Apples that Melba was his favorite apple for eating fresh. Right after Melba comes Jersey Mac, which is a delicious apple that reminds one of a Mac–thus its name! Next is Viking which is a beautiful dark red apple with white flesh and also great eating! Toward the end of the Viking season we start picking the very best tasting summer apple in existence–at least we at Magicland Farms feel that way.
It is Zestar and was developed in Minnesota the same state that developed the now famous Honeycrisp. Our summer apple varieties then continues with the popular Paulared along with Tyedeman’s Red and Stark’s Earliblaze, all of which are excellent multipurpose apple varieties. Next comes what we, and many consider the very best apple for pies, the Gravenstein apple. This apple, which originated in Europe over 200 years ago makes scrumptious pies. Many pople find that the tastiest pies are made with Gravenstein apples. A famous New York restaurant found that the demand for their apple pies doubled when Gravenstein apples were used. Personally, we feel the same way about this antique apple. However, this apple ripens at Magicland Farms in late summer when the weather is still warm and it isn’t a great keeper. Because of this, its season is quite short and we didn’t plant many of this variety. The next variety that usually is ready is our Jonamac. Jonamac is the apple that is midway between late summer apples and fall apples and is the start of our main apple crop. As its name suggests, Jonamac is a cross of Jonathan and McIntosh and tastes like its name suggests — delicious! About the time we finish picking our Jonamacs we also start spot picking our Gala apples.
Galas seem to ripen over a long period and while we start picking them in early to mid September, we often are out picking them after the first frost in early October! One reason for this is that we have three different strains of Gala and some strains ripen earlier than other strains. After Gala comes our jumbo sized Wolf River apples which are perfect for baking with not only because they make great pies but their huge size makes peeling and slicing a lot simpler than using smaller apples. Next comes our Baron apples which are a pretty yellowish apple with usually a rather pronounced red blush. Some years their flavor is outstanding while other years they are a bit bland. Like Viking, they seem to like rather cool summers for their best quality. About the same time we start picking our Baron apples are dark red Snow apples start to ripen. While Snow apples are only of medium size they are quite good looking having dark red skin and the color of their flesh is the same as their name! Snow apples (also called Fameuse apples) are considered to be an heirloom/antique apple since they have been planted for well over a hundred years. Also, they are believed to be a parent of the McIntosh apple and have many characteristics in common. About this same time, we start spot picking our extremely popular Honeycrisp apples.
Honeycrisp apples were developed in Minnesota and they reach optimum quality in West Central Michigan, where Magicland Farms is located. Shortly after we start picking Honeycrisp (and sometimes even before) our Cortland start to ripen. This apple reminds one of a large Mac, and it should because a McIntosh was one of its parents! Cortland is considered a great salad apple since, unlike most apples, it browns very slowly so it keeps its fresh, nearly snow white, flesh for some time. We have had several reports that Cortland are some customers favorite pie apple! Shortly after we start picking our Cortland, which is frequently around September 20, our huge Stark Jumbo apples start to ripen. As its name suggests, this is a Jumbo Sized apple. It is definitely not a sweet apple and makes superb pies–like most tart apples. One of the features of this apple is its size–you can make a good apple pie with just 2 or 3 of the bigger Stark Jumbo–this makes the pie making job quicker and easier! One of the most popular apple in the New York/New England area is the Macoun. Like Cortland, one of its parents was a McIntosh. This is considered one of the highest quaity apples in this season — it truly is a delight to eat! After Macoun comes another apple which has McIntosh as a parent — Spartan Mac. Our family believes this Spartan Mac’s make the very best apple sauce! It also is a fairly good keeping apple for an apple that usually ripens the same time we are still picking tomatoes and sweet corn! In general, our best keeping apples are ready when our tomatoes have already been frost damaged.
The next variety we start to pick our Jonathans. We have two strains of this great apple — an early dark red strain named Jonnee and a slightly later strain not quite as red (despite its name) called Double Red Jonathan. Both are excellent quality. Processors have recently paid more for Jonathans than any other apple–even more than Northern Spy. The reason, we believe, is that Jonathans are so loaded with a true apple flavor that they don’t need to use as many in pies and other baked food and still have a pie or other baked goodie with lots of apple flavor. While we are still picking Jonathan we also pick our Kandil Sinap. While we haven’t mentioned apple varities in this section of the website where we have only one or two trees, the Kandil Sinap seems to be a consistent bearer and we only sell them in small quantities. This pretty apple is elongated and has a porcelain like skin that is very attractive.
The Kandil Sinap has a very fine, yet crisp texture. It is truly an unusual apple. Another hard to find apple which starts to ripen about the time we finish picking our Kandil Sinap is the Hawaii. It apparently received its name since the California breeders who developed this apple detected a pineapple flavoce. However, this pineapple taste is not strong since some people who taste this apple don’t notice it, although a well ripened Hawaii apple does have the slight tang of a ripe pineapple. This pretty yellow apple is sought after by a number of our customers. Nearly everyone agrees it is a delicious apple! Around this same time — early October — we pick our Surprise apple. This apple is small to medium in size, its greenish skin isn’t that attractive but it has a nice flavor although the outstanding thing about this apple is hinted at by its name — Surprise! Its flesh is reddish! We also sometimes sell this apple with a name we made up — Candy Cane! Because of the surprise inside, kids just love it! Starting around October 5th we start to pick another uncommon apple which apparently was a cross of the Red Delicious and Golden Delicious apple — it is Red Gold. This apple is dark red and very sweet and devoured by sweet lovers everywhere. Less than 20 years ago the Red Delicious was the largest selling apple in the US. Since then many more varieties are available in the general market–variety in apples seems to be the new trend. We start to pick our Red Delicious apples just as we are ending picking our Red Golds. The next apple has been our family favorite for the last 20 years — its the Jonagold which is a cross of Jonathan and Golden Delicious, and has good features of both without the not so good features. We have two strains of this apple — the original one and the Jonagored. Jonagored was selected because it has more red color. While this is true, we feel that the original Jonagold, as long as its picked at the peak of ripeness, is actually a more attractive apple with a sparkling clear yellow skin with a pretty blush of red. Tastewise, they are both excellent. Jonagold apples are a favorite apple in Europe, especially France and Germany. It has come on top of most taste tests on both continents. It seems to keep for us better than either Jonathan or Golden Delicious. Golden Delicious, by the way, usually ripens next which is just before Columbus Day. This popular apple is of high quality although relatively few are truly attractive in appearance. They seem to need to be ht by the sun to make them good looking so apples in the middle of the tree seem to be rather plain looking.
While we are still picking Golden Delicious our Northern Spies start to ripen. This apple, since it makes such great pies and other baked goodies, is sometimes referred to as the “Pie Apple.” Our half bushels of large sized Northern Spies seem to sell faster than any other apple we grow. It also contains more Vitamin C than any other common apple. By the way, the apple with the most Vitamin C — more than an orange — is Calville Blanc d’ Hiver. More on this old French apple later. The next apple we usually pick are our Russets. While we actually grow two types of Russets that ripen in the late fall, Golden an Roxbury, we sell both types as Russets since we get confused because they look identical and their is only a slight taste difference. There has been a renewed interest in Russet apples because of the boon in Hard Apple Cider. Russet apples, make outstanding hard apple cider especially when mixed with some other apples. We have heard and tested those rumors that if you bury Russet apples in sandy ground and dig them up in the spring they are even better tasting than when picked right off the tree, and we found this is true!
A hybrid of the Golden Delicious that originated in Japan is the Mutsu, also called Crispin in the US. This apple can be quite large and quite beautiful and, like its Americanized name Crispin indicates, is quite crisp and juicy. It is my daughter’s favorite apple and many people, including some of our Amish customers, seem to prefer it for making sauce. About this time, mid October, we also pick our Idared which is a Jonathan hybrid and is noted for its great keeping and is sought out by many for sauce and pies. Usually ripening along with Mutsu is the pretty Roman Beauty apple. This is recognized as the very, very best apple use when making traditional baked apples. It is also a good apple to use for many tasty baked apple goodies, although there are many other apples that are better for eating fresh. A rather rare apple we usually have a good supply of is the very sweet Splendor apple. It is one of latest apples to ripen. I purchased this apple after I bought some from Harry and David, a rather fancy (and high priced) source for top quality fruits and baked goodies located in Oregon. The Splendor apples they sent were so tasty that I purchased 10 trees of Splendor the following spring.
Our latest ripening apples, Calville Blanc D’Hiver, Court Pendu Plat, Granny Smith and Fuji, are picked right around Halloween, although we sometimes are still picking our Fuji on Veteran’s Day! While you are probably acquainted with the grass green Granny Smith and Fuji apples since they are frequently available now in supermarkets, you will have a hard time finding the Calville Blanc and Court Pendu Plat apple varieties anyplace else except for Magicland Farms. I sometimes call Court Pendu Plat the “Tree of Knowledge” since it is believed to have originated before Christ was born. This is the oldest apple variety known. While there are better tasting apples around, this apple does have several unique taste features. For instance, I have heard comments about its flesh reminds one of hard cheese. Tasting it I can see that. It definitely is a different apple and we only have one tree and while we don’t normally mention here in this part of the website varieties of apples if we only planted a single tree, Court Pendu Plat’s ancestry is so interesting that I feel it is worth mentioning here.
We grow one variety of the Asian Pear, the Nijisseiki. This popular Asian Pear variety is not only shaped like an apple, it is as crisp as many apples. It also is quite sweet and juicy with a flavor of a pear. However, it must be picked ripe which is a problem when you purchase them at many supermarkets. We try our best to pick them at optimum maturity.
Beans — Green and Yellow
We only grow the tenderest and tastiest varieties of green beans that are available and we hand pick all our beans. Growers that primarily ship their green beans choose varieties suited for this purpose–which means the variety must still look fairly good after a week or two after being picked and,, for economic reasons, the shipping variety must also be suitable for harvest by machine–whether they are picked by hand or machine. The taste and texture of these shipping varieties is generally considered poor even when eaten freshly picked by hand.
It is often hard to find yellow beans at supermarkets and when you find them their price is always much higher than that of green beans. There are many reasons for this perhaps the most common reason is that they don’t produce as heavily as green beans. In addition, they are more susceptible to rust which makes their looks generally unsuitable for sale. We sell both our green and yellow beans at the same reasonable prices.
In other years we grew only high-quality, extremely sweet all red beets. This year we are expanding our selection by planting all yellow beets and beets that are red with white stripes. While we haven’t taste tested these new beets they are supposed to be very sweet and delicious. We will see…
As with most of our vegetables, we pick broccoli daily during the season. Since it is a cool weather vegetable we usually start picking before the fourth of July. Uusally we make several plantings and sometimes have some available as late as October.
Our muskmelon are only picked at full slip–this means they are ripe when we pick them. However, the flesh is usually firm when we pick them. If you like a real soft-fleshed muskmelon just leave it set a day or so before cutting. Like all our vegetables and fruit we only sell what we grow. Keep in mind our muskmelon, like all our vegetables, are grown to meet the Michigan Department of Agriculture’s health recommendations and no animal manure is used and it is only irrigated with clean, tested well water. In addition, we use a 9000 volt electric fence to keep out deer, which is also recommended by the MDA.
We grow a relatively new type of tart cherry called Balaton. This tart cherry, which originated in Hungary and introduced to Michigan by MSU, is unusually sweet and, when fully ripe, many find its tart sweet flavor enjoyable to eat. When used for cooking, very little sugar is needed.
Cucumbers — Pickling and Slicing
As their names indicate, pickling cucumbers are grown mainly for pickling and slicing cucumbers for slicing and eating fresh. We grow both types. Pickling cucumbers are shorter and crisper than slicers and their skin is thinner. Many of our customers prefer pickling cucumbers for fresh eating because they don’t have to peel them. They also prefer a crisper cucumber.
We grow mostly the standard black type of eggplant although we do sometimes plant some white eggplant as well. We try to pick eggplant daily–they do tend to shrivel easily.
We planted our garlic last fall and we start harvesting the bulbs inearly July. In June garlic sends scapes out in June. Scapes are the flower stalks of the garlic plant. We harvest these in June and they are excellent in stir fry dishes. We grow only stiff neck garlic which is much superior to the soft neck type (which now comes mainly from China) since the bulbs are much larger. Please don’t confuse our arlic with elephant garlic which is a distant relative of garlic. Elephant garlic really has little flavor compared to the German Red garlic we grow. Whie the hard neck garlic we sell has many, many advantages over the common softmneck garlic, its main problem is actually one of its main virtues — it has huge cloves which saves lots of time and effort when cleaning it. Why is this a problem? Well, there is only 4 to 6 cloves in a hard neck arlic bulb and you need a whole clove in order to propogate the garlic! Basically it is the cost of the seed garlic. This problem increases the cost we must charge in order to make any profit at all–garlic isn’t that hard to grow its the seed that costs. IN GENERAL, MOST VEGETABLE SEED IS JUST A SMALL FRACTION OF THE COST OF THE PRODUCTION BUT WITH HARD NECK GARLIC ITS THE PRIMARY COST!
Note About Gourds: Since gourds are not edible, we cannot accept payment for them with the Bridge (EBT) card, WIC Project Fresh Coupons or Market Fresh/Senior Fresh Coupons. We DO accept VISA, Master Card and Discover debit/credit cards.
Green Birdhouse Gourds
Freshly picked birdhouse are green and can be used as decorations early in the fall. As they start to dry, they develop brownish spots and lose their attractiveness for display. However, if you continue to let them dry–say in a basement or even in an unheated garage, by spring they should be dry enough for grafting. For more details on drying them go to the youtube video..
Small Decorative Gourds
These gourds are already decorated by nature. They come in many shapes and different colors. They also last a long time as long as they don’t freeze hard. They are very popular for decorating tables and small fall arrangements.
Dried Gourds Ready For Crafting
We have available gourds harvested the year before and have already been dried and set for crafting. For more information on using these already dried gourds for grafting go to our gourd artist’s youtube at
Unique Hand Crafted Art By Bernadette
In addition to being available at Magicland Farms, These exquisite pieces of art can be seen and purchased at the Art’s Place in Fremont, Etsy Online Shop, Dominican Book Store in Grand Rapids, and in the fall at Moynihan Gallery in Holland. Bernadette’s Gourd Art talents was also recognized by the Belle de la Rivierra B & B in Newaygo in 2012.
We have a small planting of nectarines, which are basically fuzzless peaches. We have both white and yellow fleshed nectarines. Nectarines are even harder to grow than peaches since they are sensitive to rainy periods when they have a tendency to crack.
Newaygo-Newaygo Sweet Onions
Newayg-Newaygo Sweet Onions are the Walla Walla variety of onions when grown in Newaygo County. This variety of onion was developed near the town of Walla Walla Washington State and has made that town famous because of the super sweet onions they grow there.
Pawpaws are a fruit, that grows on a small tree, that is native to Michigan. It is the only hardy species that belongs to the otherwise tropical custard-apple family. All other members of this family are tropical. Pawpaws are not only tropical botanically, the leaves, fruit and even the flowers look rather odd compared other fruit that grows in areas such as Michigan. It is surprising how few people that stop at our market have ever heard of Pawpaws since less than a hundred miles to the southwest in Michigan is located the city of Paw Paw, the Paw Paw river, Paw Paw Lake and Little Paw Paw Lake! No doubt this area had many wild pawpaw trees growing in it when the first settlers came to Michigan.
Pawpaw trees grow wild at least as far north as Newaygo Michigan. In fact, most of the pawpaws we have near our market came from a single root sprout found growing in a large clump of pawpaws about a mile downstream from the bridge in Newaygo. We have named that cultivar Newaygo, for obvious reasons. We also have several named varieties growing right next to our market and while they are larger than the Newaygo pawpaw, their flavor isn’t quite as good. What does a pawpaw taste like? Well, just like apples, each variety of pawpaws has its own particular flavor although all seem to have predominantly a banana flavor and is probably why pawpaws are also called Michigan Bananas. The Newaygo variety also seems to have bit of a vanilla flavor. The flesh of a ripe pawpaw reminds one of custard.
To see an article in Grit magazine, that the founder, and still top Honcho, of Magicland Farms wrote a few years ago
Our peach orchard is located a quarter mile northeast of our market so it really can’t be seen from Gordon Avenue or from our market. In order to have peaches available from mid July to around Labor Day to around Labor Day, we plant a wide variety of peaches including Flamin’ Fury PF1, PF17, PF24 as well as Candor, early Red Haven, Garnet Beauty, Raritan Rose (white fleshed) ), Rich May and, of course, Red Haven. Unlike apples, peach trees are tender to winter cold. Generally when the temperature in the peach orchard gets down to -15F the crop that year is lost. However, we planted our peach trees on a hill in a favorable location and while it got down to around -17F at the market in the winter of 2014 we still had a good crop.
Sweet Bell Peppers
Green, Red, Orange and Red Sweet Bell Peppers
Super-Sweet peppers that have the appearance of extra large banana peppers and, as their name suggests, don’t only have exceptional flavor but are exceptionally sweet sweet as well.
We grow the varieties of Jalapeno that produce the hottest and largest sized peppers available.
We grow Shiro (yellow), Burbank (yellow with red purplish blush) and purple Santa Rosa Japanese type plums and a few Green Gauge European type plums. Most of our plums are sold in quart containers.
We grow very tasty hulless yellow popcorn that pops up up about 45 times its size.
We try to grow most of our potatoes on sandy loam soil since that produces the best quality potatoes. We generally grow mainly Red Norland and Yukon Gold potatoes along with a small quantity of the new variety RedGold which have red skins and yellow flesh. We start digging our potatoes generally in late June and continue digging them thru September so we have the freshest potatoes available.
We grow a large quantity of many sizes and types of pumpkins–from tiny miniatures to giant pumpkins that have exceeded 400 pounds! We also grow a large quantity of pie pumpkins which have been bred specifically for pumpkin pie and other dishes. Only pie pumpkins can be purchased with the Bridge (EBT) card, WIC Project Fresh Coupons or Market Fresh/Senior Fresh Coupons.
Squash (Summer and Winter)
We grow both zucchini and yellow summer squash. We normally start picking our first summer squash in late June or early July. In order to keep our squash we sell as fresh as possible, we pick our summer squash daily during the middle of the season.
We grow a wide variety of winter squash including Acorn, Butternut, Buttercup, Hubbard, Heart-Of-Gold, Celebration and Spaghetti. This year we have added a new extra early spaghetti squash to our planting plans which should be ready sometime in July–exact time we are not sure of. Except for the spaghetti squash, most winter squash will keep until at least Thanksgiving and even Christmas.
We grow a small amount of strawberries but we are expanding our planting so hope to have larger crops in the very near future. Keep in mind that strawberries ripen quite early and they have a short season — at most 3 weeks. While every year they start to ripen at a different time, its typical we start picking strawberries June 10 and end on the last day of June if the weather is normal. If June is abnormally warm, the strawberries will start and end even sooner.
We plant somewhere between 35 and 40 patches of sweet corn each year. We start with relatively small eared, xtra-early bi-color corn when the soil temperature reaches, on average, at least 50F. This occurs at different dates every year. However, we found it isn’t wise to plant sweet corn before April 20th, no matter what the soil temperature is! We are often the first farm in Newaygo County with riper sweet corn. Two reasons for this, of course, are fairly obvious. We grow a couple of superior extra-early varieties which we plant on sandy soil that warms up quickly as early as possible. We also discovered several warm microclimates on the farm which produce ripe corn a couple of days before most areas.
In addition to being perhaps the earliest farm in west-central Michigan with good quality sweet corn, we are probably also the last of the farms to pick good quality sweet corn since we arrange our plantings so we can plan on picking corn as late as early October, which is the normal time for frost in this part of Newaygo County. (BTW, when I first started planting corn about 40 years ago, the average first frost occurred a week earlier than it has done in the last 10 years.
We arrange our 35+ plantings so we have a continuous supply of corn at optimum eating quality between the earliest corn (which we usually start pickig around July 13) and our last corn, which we pick until frost, which is usually in early October. We do this with the aid of my son’s Matthew’s Sweet Corn Planner Software which he developed and has been selling for several years now.
We grow from 15 to 20 varieties of sweet corn every year including several types of Mirai corn, which has been a customer favorite for five years now. Most of our corn is bi-color although we plant a fairly large amount of a pure white Mirai corn. This corn is believed by us, and many of our customers, as being the best tasting corn available.
We grow many different types and varieties of tomatoes.
Cherry Tomatoes–Our season starts off in early July with perhaps the sweetest and tastiest tomato in existence — the golden SunSugar Cherry tomato! We also grow red cherry and black cherry tomatoes.
Little Reds Tomatoes–This is our earliest slicing tomato we grow (we start picking it in early to mid-July, depending on the season) although as its name implies, it is a small tomato — a quarter pound (4 ounce) However, its flavor and taste more than make up for its small size. Many customers prefer its juicy texture with loads of flavor over even most of the heirloom tomatoes, which we also grow!
Large Red Slicing Tomatoes–These tomatoes, which usually weigh between 8 ounces to just over a pound each, are still our best seller. We grow over five varieties of these tomatoes–some are early, some mid-season and some late. We make our decision on the varieties we choose keeping these things in mind — quality, yield, even ripening and disease resistance. We found out a lot about growing tomatoes these past 10 to 15 years and we have been achieving good yields of high quality tomatoes most recent years.
We grow a wide variety of Heirloom tomatoes including Mortgage Lifter, Carolina Gold, Lemon Boy, Green Zebra, Cherokee Purple, Indigo Rose and five new varieties we are trying this year.
Low Acid Tomato
Chef’ Choice Orange–a special high-quality low acid-tomato.
All tomatoes we sell as canning tomatoes have a pH below 4.5 which means they can be canned using a hot water bath without adding lemon juice or vinegar. We make checks frequently of our canning tomatoes using pH teststrips.
Roma Tomatoes — AKA Plum, Italian, Paste tomatoes
These tomatoes have less juice than other tomatoes which makes them superior for uses that include, sauce and paste. Personally, we preserve more Roma tomatoes than the other types and while we do can tomato sauce we actually freeze more tomato sauce than we can. We find Roma tomatoes don’t bear as heavily as regular tomatoes and because of this and their small size, which makes hand picking, time and back consuming, we have to charge a bit more for these tomatoes than the larger, better producing, regular canning tomatoes.
We have grown and sold watermelons longer than Magicland Farms was even in existence! We started growing them on our parents property on Pickerel Lake. The sandy soil and plenty of sun was a perfect place for watermelon. We now search out the sandy soil on the farm to plant the melons. In addition to the tasty, time proven variety Crimson Sweet, we now also grow seedless watermelon which we found superior in taste.