If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, now's the time to fill your yearly prescription. The fruit that has tempted man from the beginning of time is now plentiful and waiting to be plucked, peeled, packed, squeezed and baked.
Picking your own apples requires no prior experience, just an invigorating drive into the country, some warm clothing and sturdy footwear.
Larriland Farm in Woodbine, Maryland, offers a day in the country far from the city's madding crowd. The Howard County farm just off Route 94 features a wide variety of pick-your-own apples -- red Delicious, Grimes Golden, Summer Rambo, Magnolia Gold and Stayman Winesap, to name a few. Pumpkins may also be picked as well as broccoli, cauliflower and butternut, Boston marrow and Acorn squashes. If that isn't enough to keep the average person pickin', summer crops of tomatoes, snap beans and some red raspberries are still sitting in the field waiting to be collected. A hayride to and from the orchard allays aching feet.
The family-run operation goes one step further this weekend with its annual Apple Festival. Apple fritters, apple cider, apples on-a-stick, apple butter and an apple cooking contest are all on the menu. To help balance your diet, try the country ham or the fried scrapple-and-syrup sandwiches. Country crafts and freshly made wheat flour and cornmeal are also part of the typical festival agenda. Apples may br picked into December when the cut-your-own-Christmas-tree business takes over.
High Hill Orchards on Route 7, 16 miles west of Leesburg in Round Hill, Virginia, sports acres of apples for picking. Jonathans, red and golden Delicious, Yorks, Stayman and Rome apples can be picked for $5 a half-bushel. A dollar more in the High Hill market buys the half-bushel already picked. Jams, jellies, cider, pears and pies are also on sale in the store. A picnic area and fishing pond are available. The orchards will be open through the middle of this month.
Also on the fall pick-your-own schedule are some popular summer vegetables. Parker Farms in Clinton offers a wide variety: If you hurry, limas, black-eyed peas, butter beans and purple peas can still be picked for another couple of weeks. Rod Parker says there are plenty of tomatoes just right for canning, and string beans can be picked through the first hard frost.
Cedar Hill Farm, five miles south of Waldorf, offers the same summer/fall pick-your- own crops along with apples, cider and spring honey, made lighter by holly trees, and darker fall honey, a product of summer clover.
If you missed your summer's fill of berries, fall raspberries are yours for the picking at Raspberry Hills in Laytonsville. There are several weeks of good picking left. Berries are plentiful and $1.85 per pound in "your own container" says owner Debbie Goldberg. Here's a list of fall picking places: MARYLAND LARRILAND FARM -- Apples, pumpkins, tomatoes, squash, broccoli, snap beans, red raspberries. Country store at 2525 Florence Rd., Woodbine. Call 301/422-2605. PARKER FARMS -- Pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, squash, limas, green beans, egg plant and all fall "greens." Country store at 12704 Parker Lane, Clinton. Call 292-0830. CEDAR HILL FARM -- Pumpkins, cabbage, black-eyed peas, limas, okra, peppers, turnips and fall "greens." Country store on Route 5, five miles south of Waldorf. Call 301/843-6801. ROBIN HILL FARM NURSERY -- Pumpkins, turnip and kale at 15800 Croom Rd. Brandywine. 301/579- 6844. RASPBERRY HILLS -- Raspberries. Bring own container to 4600 Sundown Rd., Laytonsville. Call first, 774-2543. SEWELLS -- Apples, pumpkins. Country store at 6233 Oakland Mills Rd., Columbia. Call 730-5500. HOUGH'S -- Pumpkins at 20001 Peach Tree Rd., Dickerson. Call 301/349-5330. LOHR'S -- Apples at 901 Lohr's Lane, Joppa. Call 301/679-4314. MOORE'S ORCHARD -- Apples, pumpkins and pears. 5242 East Joppa Rd. Perry Hall. Call 301/256-5982. CONOWINGO ORCHARD -- Apples, pumpkins in Conowingo. Call 301/378-2441. MT. PLEASANT ORCHARD, INC. -- Apples, pumpkins and vegetables. 1620 Chapel Rd., Havre de Grace. Call 939-2222. FIKES ORCHARD -- Apples, cider and pumpkins. Cordova. Call 301/822-0561. GODFREY FARMS -- Apples and pumpkins. U.S. 1, Sudlersville. Call 301/438-3501. VIRGINIA HIGH HILL ORCHARDS -- Apples, pumpkins and country store. Route 7, Round Hill. Call 471-1448. HARTLAND ORCHARD -- Apples in Markham. Call 703/364-2316. STRIBLING ORCHARD -- Apples in Markham. Call 703/364-2092. BARTON ORCHARD -- Apples. Markham and Linden. Call 703/382-9348. NICHOLS U-PICK -- Apples. U.S. 1, Troutville. Call 703/992-3551. R.S. GRAVES BROTHERS, INC. -- Apples. Syria. Call 703/923-4231. FREDERICK FARM MARKET -- Apples, cider; bring containers. At Merriman's Lane, Winchester. Call 703/667-1743. FRUIT HILL ORCHARD -- Apples. 21/2 miles past Winchester, off Route 50. Call 7036662-2483. R&T PACKING CO. -- Apples. Winchester. Call 703/869-1357. RICHARD'S FRUIT MARKET -- Apples. Middletown. Call 869-1455. RINKER ORCHARDS -- Apples. Stephens City. Call 703/869-1499. SNEAD'S ORCHARD -- Apples. Gid Brown Hollow, Washington. Call 703/987-8709. COOPER'S ORCHARD -- Apples. U.S. Tomas Brook. 703/436-3849. HARMONY HOLLOW ORCHARD -- APPLES, Pick-your-own weekends only. Front Royal. 703/636-2009. LAYMAN BROTHERS ORCHARD -- Apples. Route 220, Daleville. Call 703/992-2687.It's adivsable to call ahead since conditions change accordings to crop availabilty and weather.