Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cherokee Purple

At 72 days, the Cherokee Purple is one of the beefsteak tomato varieties that actually has a chance to produce fruit here in northcentral Pennsylvania. By contrast, the popular Brandywine tomato is listed at 82 days from transplant which is more challenging in our climate.

Picked July 8, 2014, tipping the scale at nearly a pound!
The High Mowing Organic Seed catalog promises "brownish purple skin with green shoulders and red flesh. The most popular of the black tomatoes for its outstanding flavor and texture. Large beefsteak fruits weigh in at 12-16 oz. Believed to trace back over 100 years to the Cherokee Indians."
While we probably won't have enough ripe tomatoes to bring to market this week (July 11), it won't be too much longer!
Here's today's harvest:
Tomato varieties pictured include Black Cherry, Stupice, Black Sea Man, Nyagous, Austin's Red Pear,
Sweetie Cherry, Speckled Roman, Silvery Fir Tree, Cherokee Purple and Amish Paste.
This week at Market we will once again have a nice supply of leafy red and green head lettuce, limited Jalapeno and Hot Wax peppers, limited heirloom zucchinis, sweet green shelling peas and (fingers crossed) new potatoes, fresh herbs including dill, flat leaf parsley, cilantro, limited basil. If you're counting on having the produce which may be in short supply, contact us ahead of time and we'll reserve your selection for pickup at the Market. You might even talk me out of some of the tomatoes!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tomato Season Has Arrived

Black Cherry


Silvery Fir Tree

Black Sea Man

Sweetie Cherry
The wait is over - at least for our family! This morning I picked a Sweetie Cherry tomato and popped it right into my mouth. Ahhh! There's absolutely nothing to compare with a warm tomato plucked from the vine. What makes it special for me is that I planted each seed, transplanted each little seedling, watered and fussed until handing the plant off to Arthur who planted it in the high tunnel in mid-May. Since then, it's been watered, pruned and had its winding stem attached to the trellis system.  Today's enjoyment is a culmination of all the little steps so familiar to a farmers or gardeners!
This beautiful Black Sea Man tomato on the left is going to find its way into the first BLT of the summer - thick slabs of locally-sourced bacon, slices of homemade whole wheat bread, a twist of black pepper, lettuce from the garden and a touch of mayonnaise!
I'm not sure whether we'll have enough tomatoes to sell when we head to the Farmers' Market on July 7 at Cole Memorial but I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, I have lots of lovely leafy head lettuce for anyone who is interested. If you live in Coudersport, we can make arrangements for delivery by calling 274-8004. I also have some fresh herbs – four kinds of basil including purple, Thai, lemon and Genovese, flat leaf parsley, sage, dill, oregano, cilantro.
As always, I am happy to take orders for any of our produce. I can pick it especially for you and hold it for you at the Farmers' Market or we can make other arrangements. Just give me a call or email:

Here's the other crop we've been watching with great anticipation. It's the 2014 crop of Alderman Tall Telephone Peas. Since we won't be coming to the Farmers' Market this week (July 4 holiday), we expect to have a limited supply available on July 7 at Cole Memorial and again on July 11 at the Farmers' Market on the courthouse square.
Red Cabbage
Those of you who have been driving past the farm, may have notice that the covers have been removed from the long rows of brassicas. We used floating row cover to discourage flea beetles and other pests while the plants were trying to become established. They're growing nicely now.
Broccoli just beginning to form heads

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

déjà vu

We've been taking carrots to the Farmers' Market the past couple of weeks and I pulled this one from the ground Friday morning and immediately felt a sense of  deja vu.
Wonder why? See this post from February 2014.

We're taking at least one week off from the Potter County Farmers' Market as we planned for the lull between the early produce and the regular and more plentiful mid-summer selections.
We do, however, have a beautiful supply of leafy head lettuce and would be happy to make arrangements for anyone who wishes to order and purchase some. There are 3 varieties currently ready and in a couple of weeks, I'll have a new variety of green leafy head lettuce ready to sell as well.
As far as the tomatoes go, I'm optimistic that I'll see some hints of ripeness very soon. I'm excited to share some new heirloom varieties this summer including a selection of multi-colored cherry tomatoes.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Growth Check

The Potter County Farmers' Market has been up and running for four weeks now. We've had all kinds of weather - as expected - and we've seen many familiar faces. Market hours are 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. on Fridays. This early in the season it pays to come in the first few hours on market day because quantities are limited!
This year our Farmers' Market growers are collaborating with Cole Memorial Hospital to offer our wares at the hospital on the first and third Mondays of the month. While our farm didn't participate this week, we've signed up for later in the season when the tomatoes and peppers are at their best!
It's a challenge to have fresh produce ready in May and June when you live in Potter County. Each week I've been harvesting and packing leafy head lettuce to transport to the Farmers' Market.
Three varieties of leafy head lettuce

I start the lettuce in 50-cell flats under the lights in the greenhouse and transplant into the high tunnel when the plants get too big for the containers. Tomorrow I will be cutting from the third bed I've planted this year.
Rinsed, bagged & stored in cooler to preserve freshness
 This week (Friday, June 20) we'll have lettuce, carrots, some fresh herbs, Swiss Chard (from our friends at Card Creek Trading Post) and a limited quantity of new potatoes!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Great Tomato Race

When you grow tomatoes and first start to see the yellow blossoms, the question almost asks itself – which tomato will ripen first?
Black Sea Man
This year we have 24 varieties of mostly heirloom organic tomatoes growing in the high tunnel. When I shop for tomato seed, I rely on tried-and-true growing experience and taste. But I also look at the number of days it takes for the tomato plant to begin producing fruit.
In the days before the high tunnel, we were limited to tomatoes with a very short growing season (50 - 65 days). Now we have the luxury of planting tomatoes with growing spans of 85+ days. 
It's fun to watch the daily progress in the high tunnel as I make my way down the aisles, diligently cutting away the suckers on the indeterminate plants climbing their strings. Already the Black Trifele has taken on its signature triangular shape. I also recognize the Red Pears even though they're diminutive. Indigo Rose  (a Farmers' Market favorite) boasts dark leaves and stems and the marble-sized new fruit have deep purple shoulders.
Last year, the great tomato race was won by Stupice with Silvery Fir Tree, Moskovich and Sweetie Cherry following close behind. All those varieties are making a return appearance this year.
For 2014, I fully expect Black Sea Man (pictured above) to take the prize. This particular plant is loaded with fruit already!
Here's a peek in the high tunnel in a photo taken Tuesday, June 3.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Winter's Last Gasp?

High Tunnel closed for the night
The past two nights have been a challenge for our tender plants – even in the high tunnel. When the outdoor thermometer read 31 degrees, inside the tunnel it was 37  -- and that was just the air temperature, not the temperature inside the floating covers.
Tomatoes under their protective covers
Add the cold temperatures to the rain we've had in the past couple of days and you have farmers who are stymied in their attempts to get things planted. The schedule has been revised -- and revised again!
We're still on schedule to open the Farmers' Market on Friday, May 23 and in my next post, I'll show you what we're offering for sale.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Labor of Love?

I have a radio tuned to NPR in the greenhouse and I listen in the mornings as I move from chore to chore, often with a watering jug in hand. Yesterday I heard a reporter call the Census of Agriculture a "feast for all ag geeks." Reporter Dan Charles titled his report "For Many, Farming Is A Labor of Love, Not a Living. " That made me chuckle aloud, for Arthur and I have been having many a conversation about that very subject – a conversation that's probably replicated by every farmer couple we know!

Mr. Charles highlighted a statistic that shows that two-thirds of 2,109,303 farms in the United States have sales (not profits) of less than $25,000 a year. He went on to say that he believes "The census numbers reveal the continuing transformation of American agriculture...The huge number of part-time farmers represents a kind of historical legacy. To a large extent, they are what's left of the days, a century ago, when farmers made up almost a third of the labor force."

And here we are today, living on the remnants of a family farm that used to support three families. Our farming venture looks very different from the one chronicled in the wonderful photos taken by my mother-in-law Wanda Metzger back in the 1950s (watch for more of them to be posted on the Farm Heritage page on this blog as soon as I get them scanned!)

Meanwhile, here are some photos I took this morning to show you what's happening on our little farm in the spring of 2014. Many of these crops are destined for the Potter County Farmers' Market.
Two kinds of leafy head lettuce

Leaf lettuce with some volunteer dill weed
First crop of  beet greens almost ready to harvest

Cherokee Purple tomato beginning its ascent in the high tunnel
If you'd like to read Dan Charles' report, here's the link: For Many Farming Is A Labor Of Love, Not A Living