Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Tomato Sauce

August is the month when it all comes together for tomato growers.  In my hoop house, though the tomato plants have lost their original lush growth through pruning to control bacteria, the vines are heavy with fruit in various stages of ripening. And they are so delicious.
It's probably not fair for me to boast here about these culinary delights since we're not offering vegetables at the Farmer's Market this season. However ... I can't resist!
While I've been busy canning tomatoes in quart and pint jars, I need to turn more of them into this wonderful roasted tomato sauce.
It all starts like this:

That's an assortment of my wonderful heirloom tomatoes, layered in a large rimmed baking pan lined with parchment paper, sprinkled with salt and drizzled with olive oil Add a liberal amount of crushed whole garlic cloves and roast in the oven set at 425 degrees. It takes some time but keep a close watch after an hour or so, depending upon the juiciness of the tomatoes you've chosen. (I tell you this because this batch of sauce pictured here scorched when I failed to keep close track of it!)
Allow it to cool then pass through a food mill to remove skins and seeds. Package and freeze.

Now a brief note about a fall crop ... APPLES! We will be offering our USDA certified organic apples for sale as they ripen. We will have both high quality large eating apples and "seconds" which are apples with some imperfections but perfect for applesauce, pie filling etc. In addition, we will be having cider pressed by a processor again this year. This year you will need to order in advance and take delivery on the day it's processed. More details will be announced but if you'd like to be put on a list for either, please email at metzgerfarm@gmail.com

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Another USDA Certified Organic Inspecition

Arthur and I spent part of yesterday with Christie Badger, who was charged with completing our fourth annual on-site inspection for our USDA Organic Certification. Christie reviewed our organic systems plan with us and verified the  information provided with records from the farm and on-site inspection.
Keeping up with the record-keeping process required has been a learning experience but I was gratified to be able to immediately provide any documentation requested by the certifier.
I recently had a conversation with a respected local physician who is a bit skeptical about the veracity of the USDA Certified Organic label on some of the products in  supermarkets from large industrial farms, especially those south of the border. I felt confident assuring the good doctor that we have grown organically for as long as we've been having gardens and achieving this certification was the next logical step as we grow our farm by focusing on production of USDA Certified Organic apples along with an assortment of vegetables.
Read more about the USDA Certified Organic at the Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO) website here.
We're proud to meet the standards that allow us to use the USDA Certified Organic label on our vegetables, plants and fruits.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

To The Future ...

The youngest member of the new generation of the Metzger family is learning about farming far from our rocky Pennsylvania hilltop.  She's been planted firmly in the silty soils of Alaska's Matanuska Valley by her parents.
... and how about that headband? Doesn't it just "beet" all?

Sunday, May 19, 2019

It's Apple Blossom Time

Today it's 80 though just a couple of days ago, we awoke to a scrim of frost in the spots on our farm where the cold drains.
The orchards have exploded with a riot of blossoms in the past couple of days. Arthur can tell you which trees blossom first and all the details but I couldn't resist venturing into the orchards to snap a few photos. A bonus was the sight of a Scarlet Tanager flashing amid the blossoms though I was too slow to capture its picture.

from the lone McIntosh apple tree
planted in the 1950s

Sad to report that we lost our bees in the late winter
but happy to report the new bees we purchased
are thriving in the apple orchard

Didn't take the time to check the tag on
this tree with the fuchsia blooms

Not sure that bluebirds are the
occupants of this house in the orchard

For the first time in more than 10 years, we are not planting and planning for the Potter County Farmers' Market this spring. While we're focusing all our farm attention on the orchard, our personal attention is drawn to a different kind of apple - this baby girl, born last month to our son Joe and wife Jennifer. She joins her cousins Rowan and Amelia as the apples of their grandparents' eyes.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

What's Growing?

Tomatoes growing in the greenhouse

It's not surprising that all the pictures taken in April over the years often look just like the one above which I snapped with my phone this morning. Capturing the new growth on fledgling plants seems important as the weather swings wildly between warm sunshine and cold, windy snow showers.

If you ordered tomato and/or pepper plants, rest assured that they're being tended daily as I water them and adjust the lights and heat in the greenhouse. Everything seems to be on schedule so far as I completed the transplanting from the seed starting trays to the peat pots last week.

And in the high tunnel, I will harvest the first picking of lettuce this weekend. These seeds were planted on a warm February afternoon and covered with floating row cover. Over the weeks, the lettuce rows have company with spinach, carrots, radish and turnip seeds sowed and sprouted.

We're still enjoying the fruits of last year's labor. We're harvesting parsnips from the garden and kale from the high tunnel, both of which overwintered beautifully. Still in storage we have onions, garlic, apples and sweet potatoes. And in the freezer, I can still dig down and find a container of roasted tomato sauce!

Who doesn't love spring?

Monday, March 25, 2019

Pondering Pepper Plants

Finding USDA Certified Organic plants for your home garden is a challenge here in Potter County. Our plants are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or fertilizers. Any nonorganic nursery plant is sure to have been treated with some type of synthetic product. Remember USDA has exacting standards that must be met for a plant to bear the USDA Certified Organic label and we undergo an annual review to be able to use the USDA Certified Organic "brand."

All of our plants (all grown from certified organic seed) get the best possible start with high-quality organic seed starting mix, potting soil and care.

At this time, I am completing the seeding of pepper and tomato plants. I am growing an assortment of plants for the farm but and have not planned to start any additional plants for sale this year unless the customer makes arrangements with me NOW. (Thank you to those who have responded and ordered their plants).

As promised, here is a list of available sweet and hot pepper seeds I have:

Sweet Peppers: Chocolate, Golden California Wonder, King of the North, Carolina Wonder, Osmarsko Kambe
Hot Peppers: Sarit Gat, Czech Black, Hidalgo, Ring Of Fire

Tomato varieties are here.

Interested? Send an email to metzgerfarm@gmail.com before WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27 or we'll both be disappointed.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Last Call For Tomato Plants

I've been occupied with getting my pepper, onion and tomato plants going in the past couple of days. If you are interested in ordering Certified Organic tomato and/or pepper plants, your deadline has arrived. I have used all of the seed starting mix that I ordered. I have ordered an additional bag to complete my seeding projects but I will not be planting extra seeds this year so if you are going to want plants for your home garden in May, I need to have your order NOW.

Healthy organic tomato plant from a long-ago summer
I have seed for the following determinate tomato varieties: Rutgers, Oregon Spring, Northern Ruby Paste, Mountain Princess, Burbank, Organic 506, Glacier, Sophie's Choice, Medford, Wisconsin Chief and Silvery Fir Tree.

Is anything more appealing than a vine-ripened organic tomato?
Indeterminate varieties require staking or trellising. Available seeds include: Black Sea Man, Black Cherry, Cerokee Purple, Goldie, Stupice, Dester, Brandywine, Pruden's Purple, Moskvich, New Girl.


Price per plant (in 4-inch peat pot) will be $4 each. 

Again, if you are interested in plants this year, I need to hear from you by Monday, March 25. Please email metzgerfarm@gmail.com.

... and thank you to those who have already ordered. Your seeds are working at sprouting in the sprouting chambers in the greenhouse as I share this post!