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!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Tomato Nostalgia

Summer of 1979
.
We arrived on the family farm on Crandall Hill on a hot April day in 1976,  our "Living The Good Life" dreams of making our way as homesteaders packed into a U-Haul truck, taking us from the busy Lehigh Valley back to our mutual roots in north central Pennsylvania.
Key to the back-to-the-land dream was growing a big garden. In the metropolitan area near Allentown, we had claimed a community garden space with high voltage electrical lines arching overhead. The weeds soon overtook our first efforts at growing our own as we couldn't find the time to adequately tend our little shared space. But our move back to the gardens Arthur fondly remembered  from his childhood offered a new start and we planted our first garden that spring.
I don't remember much about those first gardens. Instead, my memories take me back to sunny summer afternoons in the tomato patch while my toddler daughter took her afternoon nap in the nearby house.  Always a creature of habit, the little girl welcomed her afternoon respite, and so did I. It was the summer I canned more than 100 quarts of our own tomatoes.
Coming across this photo on a cold winter day in 2019 transported me back to that halcyon summer, setting my standard of tomato success.
It's time to start the seeds that will become the tomatoes of 2019. For the past several years, I have offered USDA Certified Organic tomato and pepper plants for sale. This year I will grow vegetable starts only if customers make arrangements with me in advance. And that means you will need to get in touch with me (email: metzgerfarm@gmail.com) before March 20 to place your order. We can work together to select varieties and plan for the best time for you to take custody of your plants when the danger of frost has passed in your garden patch. We'll both be disappointed if you wait until May to begin looking for organic plant starts.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Another Bean Tale

Don't we all hanker after this
well-organized pantry?
This is the pantry of one-time Niles Hill homesteaders, and good friends, Mike and Louise Aucott. The pink arrow direcs your attention to jars of dried beans - dried beans that were grown on Metzger Heritage Farm.

Dried beans have an impressive nutritional profile. In addition to lots of protein, they also bring manganese, fiber, B vitamins and iron to the table. Some studies show that a higher legume intake is the most protective dietary predictor of survival among the elderly. Beans and greens are the foods most closely linked in some studies as being protective against cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and dementia.


These are known as Painted Pony (or brown mare bean because of its half brown and half white marking).  I'll allow Louise to tell the story received in an email on the same day I was posting about Bird Egg Beans.
Years and years ago, Metzgers gave Aucotts a big bag of soldier beans still in their shells. We let them dry *thoroughly* and shelled them during World Series games, then (oh horrors) forgot they were there. But....tonight I made them into baked beans and they turned out to be DELICIOUS! Thank you Metzgers! Rounded out with corn pudding from our own Niles Hill corn.


Now when Louise says years and years, I figure that it has to be at least seven years. I can remember where I grew them and I remember that I planted several long rows and we harvested about two big barrels of the beans in their pods. How happy we were to offload (I mean share) them.

I have to admit that there is still a feed bag bulging with beans hidden away in a cupboard down in the shop if the chipmunks haven't found a way in.

I'm planning to try several varieties of shell beans in the 2019 garden. Do you have any varieties to recommend?

For those of you interested in planting your own Painted Pony beans, here's a link with information. And who knows...years and years in the future, it might be you pulling a jar of beans from your pantry shelf to transform into a nutritious and tasty dinner.