Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Purple In The Garden

It's been a particularly crazy time on Crandall Hill the past couple of weeks because both of us have stolen some time away from the farm. I spent a transformative week at the Chautauqua Institution with a group of dear friends. Arthur returned yesterday from a 10-day fishing trip to Alaska. Our vacations overlapped a few days which kept us from the Potter County Farmers' Market only one week. Last week I did two Markets on my own which kept me quite busy!
This post has been rattling around in my brain since early last week when I snapped the pictures you see below.
Royal Burgundy Snap Beans in blossom
These beans are purple until they begin to cook and turn green.
 The garden and high tunnel feature a riot of color this time of year. From the bright sunny blossoms on the squash to the more subtle blossoms on the potato plants to the many red hues on the tomato plants, it's truly a feast for one's eyes.
Purple is not necessarily a color you'd expect to see in the garden but it's the one that really captured my attention last week.
It also turns out that purple foods have their own special health benefits.

Coming soon ... Purple Cabbage
Purple foods contain anthocyanins, health-promoting chemicals that act to protect and heal cells. They play a role in promoting heart and eye health and may decrease the rate of cancer cell growth. In addition to being found in vegetables, they are also in teas, honey, fruits, nuts, olive oil, cocoa and wine.
Some vegetables are bred specifically to have additional anthocyanins.  Feast your eyes on this assortment of purple growing right here at Metzger Heritage Farm and look for this great stuff at the Potter County Farmers' Market in coming weeks.

Czech Black Peppers
A delicious heirloom from Czechoslovakia.
Mild, jalapeno-shaped fruit with
fruity, cinnamon flavor
Two varieties of eggplants
share a bed in the high tunnel
These carrots are purple
on the outside
and organge on the inside

Indigo Rose Tomatoes
A favorite of Chef
Butch Davis
The Indigo Rose tomato which I first grew last summer is touted in the seed catalog as being the darkest tomato bred so far, exceptionally high in anthocyanins. The catalog description goes on to say that in the early stages of fruit development, Indigo Rose develops a dark purple pigment when exposed to direct sunlight. Green when unripe, purple-red when ripe, the cocktail-size tomatoes have good flavor with plummy overtones.
Purple Beauty Bell Pepper

Purple Basil
Mild, aromatic and ideal for garnish, sauces & dressings
And how can I forget the beautiful All Blue potatoes we've been growing for our gourmet potato assortment? They deserve a post all their own!







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

Nyagous

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: metzgerfarm@gmail.com.

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.
http://metzgerfarm.blogspot.com/2014/02/farmers-as-healers.html

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.