Sunday, December 7, 2014

December Harvest

Spinach and Leafy Head Lettuce
Ever since a visit to the high tunnel at Canticle Farm in nearby Allegany, N.Y. on a cold Feburary day a couple of years ago, I've had a goal of harvesting fresh greens in the winter. Canticle Farm grows greens year round to sell in their winter market held twice a month.
Though the solstice is still a few days away, our days of temperatures in the single digits and the lack of light and sunshine provided a test of the various methods employed to have a four-season harvest in our Crandall Hill high tunnel.
Yesterday's temperatures above the freezing mark offered me the opportunity to venture across icy grass to the high tunnel. As I unzipped the corner, ice showered down on my head. Inside I made my way between the raised beds to the interior bed shrouded in white row cover. I unclipped the filmy covering from the hoops and found what I had hoped - vibrant deep red and green leafy head lettuce, spinach and flat leaf parsley.

Three varieties of leafy head lettuce

Italian parsley and carrots
There was also a planting of carrots in the high tunnel, most of which I had already harvested. However the carrots you see were transplanted as I thinned the original planting. See the crooked roots?

More lettuce remains to be harvested in the coming weeks though one cannot count on much growth. The same holds true for the spinach. It will remain mostly dormant until there's more warmth and light.
This morning the sun is bright in the sky and I expect that though it's projected to be in the 20s all day, the sun will warm temperatures in the high tunnel to well above freezing.
Though I am not offering any of this produce for sale, we do have some beautiful organic potatoes available. Contact us directly to get your supply for the holidays. The red ones are particularly festive this time of year!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Buttoning Up

The teasingly beautiful days this fall provided us a false sense of security when it comes to what can be accomplished before winter really sets in. But alas, it seems the dire predictions of moving into the deep freeze hysterically trumpeted by every single weather guru this week might be the harbinger of things to come. But, lest we forget, it is November in northern Pennsylvania!
I'd say we've accomplished a lot of what needs to be done in the gardens, high tunnel, orchard and fields but it's discouraging to see what still should be done.

Yesterday a work crew arrived to put a new roof put on the big barn that we've recently acquired across the road from our house. This grand old lady has fallen on hard times recently but we're full of plans to keep her useful. This first step will help preserve her for what's to come.
When the crew finishes that one, they'll move on to the newer barns that need to have their nearly 40-year-old roofs replaced as well.
Yesterday I dug more carrots. Our customers who pre-ordered their winter supply are enjoying the ones harvested a couple of weeks ago and the rest are being stored for our winter use. They are so beautiful and so delicious that I have been adding them to nearly everything I have been cooking. And it seems that the dog feels quite entitled to enjoy the tops and tips and all the ugly/split/ puny ones as a bedtime snack!

Napoli, Atomic Red, Dragon Purple & Yellowstone Carrots
 I have discovered that our best plan is to plant the main crop of carrots outdoors in July to help control weeds and carrot pests. That gives them enough time to mature and the cold weather they need to develop sweetness. We also plant a limited number of carrots in the high tunnel to harvest throughout the late spring and summer. They fit nicely on the outside of the tomato rows.
I could be talked into parting with a few more carrots if you're interested. Just email ( or call 274-8004. Also, potatoes are still available at Costa's and Genesee Natural Foods. For larger quantities, we offer discounted price with a purchase of 10 pounds or more.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Root Vegetables

We've been enjoying lots of root vegetables this fall including this beautiful (and delicious) Carrot/Beet Slaw which incorporates the colorful carrots and beets we're harvesting now.

The basic recipe is one from Chef Butch and Chef Colin who did an awesome cooking demonstration at the Potter County Farmers' Market in summer 2013. Of course, I have altered it a bit to fit the ingredients I have on hand.

Carrot/Beet Slaw
Large beet, grated
Carrot, grated
Finely chopped red or green sweet pepper
Finely chopped jalapeno pepper
Finely chopped shallot (adjust for your own taste)
Finely chopped parsley (I prefer the flat-leaf type)
2 Tb. vinegar (consider using rice wine vinegar for a milder tang or balsamic for deep, sweet flavor)
2 Tb. olive oil
1 tsp. honey (consider using real maple syrup or you can use sugar)
salt and pepper to taste

We have a nice harvest of carrots that we're beginning to dig. We plant our main crop of carrots late to help avoid weeds (fat chance!) and find that the chilly weather in the fall helps to sweeten them. There are also some beautiful beets still in the field that will be gathered soon.
As with all of our crops, if you're interested in these, please call (274-8004) or email ( to make arrangements for pickup or delivery.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Potatoes Are In!

This photo documents the last of the 2014 potato harvest, completed last week. (It was a beautiful shirt sleeve day – quite a change from the dusting of snow on the ground this morning... sigh!)
If you'd like a winter supply of organic spuds, contact us soon to make arrangements. There's a price break if you buy 10 pounds or more. Telephone 814-274-8004 or email Retail locations include Costa's in Coudersport and Genesee Natural Foods. Look for them on the menu at the Crittenden too!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

How Hot Is Hot?

The addition of the high tunnel to the farm has opened new opportunities for vegetable varieties that have traditionally been difficult to bring to maturity in our short growing season.

Hungarian Hot Wax, Jalapeno, Czech Black, Ring of Fire, Maya Red

Hot peppers are an excellent example. While we've had moderate success in the past with Early Jalapeno and Hungarian Hot Wax peppers, our hot pepper repertoire has expanded to include varieties of Cayenne and Habanero varieties.
While hot peppers are not exactly a Potter County Farmers' Market favorite, we've found uses for the excess production including fiery hot sauce, salsa and – our favorite – dried hot pepper flakes.
The dehydrator is doing its thing on the back porch as I write this, the sharp aroma punctuating the cool fall air as the these beauties relinquish their moisture but not their heat!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Organic Apples!

Arthur poses with Bridget Reynolds at Quest Farm Produce in Almond, N.Y.
We're excited about the harvest of organic apples from our "new" orchard and even more excited to be offering them for sale at Quest Farm Produce in Almond, N.Y. So far we've made two deliveries of these organic beauties to the store run by Denis and Bridget Reynolds, organic farmers and friends. If you're in the neighborhood (perhaps while taking in the Allegany Artisan Studio Tour next weekend, Oct. 19 & 20), stop by their store at 7142 State Route 21 to see all that they offer. 

We've been apple lovers for years and have enjoyed harvesting Northern Spy, MacIntosh and Golden Delicious apples from older orchards on our farm. The majority of the fruit trees in our new orchard were planted in April 2012 and they've been carefully tended since then. Harvest this year is limited but we're expecting next year to produce even more.
Joe awaiting his apple-planting assignment (April 2012)

Conner and Arthur separating trees (April 2012)
Apples top the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen again this year. To come up with the rankings, the group analyzed pesticide residue testing data from the U.S.D.A. and the FDA. They found that 99 percent of apple samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue. That's the reason we're committed to growing our apples organically. We know folks are anxious to have safe, local sources for this nutritious and beloved fruit.

Friday, September 12, 2014


We have a great supply of amazing Edamame available right now! This is what they look like straight from the field.

While we won't be at the Farmers' Market today, we would be happy to process your order and arrange for delivery. Price is $4 per pound. Just click on the comment link below or call the farm at 814-274-8004 or email
While they're fabulous just steamed, chilled and popped into your mouth, they are also suitable to use in soups, salads and any place you'd use cooked beans.

Edamame Hummus - Yummy!
Here's the link to a previous edamame post with recipes
Here's a link to a post that tells you more about edamame.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured In AgSquared Newsletter!

I wrote about using AgSquared farm management software on this blog last year and have been working at keeping up with it throughout this growing season. So it was with pleasure that I accepted the invitation for our farm to be featured as an "Ag Squared Case Study" for their newsletter. I was delighted to spend some telephone time with Mandy recently as she interviewed me about our farm and how we use this software in our operation. The article in their August newsletter showed up in my inbox today!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Busman's Holiday?

While we missed the Potter County Farmers' Market last week, a tip from our hosts at the Gonstead Guest House (Phil and Joyce Wall) led us to the Dane County Farmers' Market in downtown Madison, Wisconsin.

It's billed as the largest producer-only farmers' market in the United States with all items produced locally by the vendor behind the table. Vendors stretch all the way around Capitol Square and ring the Wisconsin State Capitol building (beautiful, by the way!) The market is bustling and crowded as folks move from table to table in search of their favorites.

Choices include a beautiful and bountiful variety of vegetables along with berries, apples, cherries, melons and other fruits. Value-added products abound including crackers, cheeses, salsas, jams, jellies, preserves, maple and honey. There are vendors offering meat and poultry, sausages, tofu and more. While craft vendors are not permitted, there are lots of beautiful cut flowers and perennials along with dried flowers. They tell me there is a long waiting list for potential vendors with a wait of more than five years for any opening!
We appreciated conversations with several of the vendors including one woman farmer who was delighted to tell me how she produces this amazing Swiss chard.

This vegetable garden is on the grounds
of the Wisconsin State Capitol - in fact
you can see the capitol in the background.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Not Your Grandmother's Green Bean!

Haricot vert (sometimes known as filet beans or French beans) are not the same as skinny green beans. These special beans are bred to have a full bean flavor when extremely small, tender, thin and young.
We are growing non-GMO Maxibel Haricot Vert from High Mowing Organic Seeds. The seed catalog promises that these beans are "unsurpassed as a gourmet market specialty."

Here's a recipe that takes advantage of several vegetables now available from our farm.

Haricot Vert With Shallots and Tomatoes
1/2 lb. haricot vert
2 tsp. butter
1 small shallot, sliced
1 diced tomato
salt & pepper to taste
fresh lemon juice to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add haricot vert and set the timer for 3.5 minutes. Drain beans and plunge them into an ice bath to cool quickly.  In the same pot you've used to cook the beans, melt the butter. Add shallots and saute lightly for about 2 minutes. Add the drained and cooled beans and reheat in the butter and shallots just until warmed. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, place on platter, top with the diced tomato and squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over the mixture. Serve immediately. (If holding this dish, omit the lemon juice until the last minute for it may discolor the beans if left too long.)

We have a bumper crop of Haricots Vert begging to be picked every day here on the farm. They're competing for attention with the other green beans we've begun harvesting in hues of yellow, green and purple.
All will be available this week at the Potter County Farmers' Market Friday from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. in downtown Coudersport.

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


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!