Friday, April 28, 2017

Armed Conflict

Here's the conflict: Our early plantings in the high tunnel are being assaulted by these tiny creatures. 

Do you recognize them? I would bet that you've encountered ubiquitous pill bugs (also known as rolly-pollies, sow bugs, doodle bugs, wood lice) in your backyard.
Our raised beds have turned into combat zones! Under the cover of darkness, these voracious armies swarm the tender little seedlings and attack! They've enjoyed a cozy life in the protected environs of the high tunnel, hiding under the wood and in all the organic material. If they had just stuck to the decaying wood and the dark dampness under the ground cover, we could have co-existed.
But now, it's war!
What's in our organic arsenal?
The first line of defense was diatomaecus earth. Not too effective but it did slow them down somewhat.
Golden chard with food-grade
diatomaceous earth sprinkles

Yesterday afternoon we hollowed out reject potatoes and put them face-down in the earth around the plants.

See the potato trap in the upper right?
This morning we plucked the potatoes from the soil and sent the pill bugs to a watery grave! We'll see if these deterrants will allow all the seedlings a fighting start.
How do you combat pill bugs in your organic garden?

Even the tomatoes are fair game!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Let's Get Growing!

Haven't we had a lovely taste of early spring the past couple of days? Here on the farm, it's given us lots of opportunities to get growing.

Garlic - planted last fall, growing this spring!

Tomato plants - is one destined for your garden?

These beautiful broccoli plants have now transitioned
to permanent homes in the garden
Lettuce planned for the opening of
Potter County Farmers' Market
Things are a-changing here on Crandall Hill this spring. We're happy to announce that we have entered into a "Share-Farming" agreement with Rytz Bowman and Laura Mangan, who bring lots of enthusiasm and excitement to their new venture here on Metzger Heritage Farm.
Share farming or "crop share" is a flexible, collaborative approach to farming. Sometimes known as tenant farming, crop share is an agreement where the landowner and farmer work together to grow and harvest the crops.
They have already jumped in with both feet to plant and tend a big selection of vegetables to share with you. Many kinds of kale, summer turnips, radishes, Swiss chard, arugula, lettuce, spicy mesclun and more share some of the beds where the first tomatoes have been transplanted in the high tunnel.
We're looking at our production with a fresh set of eyes and new energy! Laura and Rytz have lots of great new ideas and even plans to put together a modified CSA arrangement to bring you a weekly share of certified organic produce. Watch for details.
And to celebrate the new arrangement, have a look at our new logo (Is my pre-farming life as a graphic designer showing?)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Always Warm In The Greenhouse!

I was awake early enough this morning to see the silvery moonlight brightening the skylights while in the east, the horizon took on muted hues of gold.. Today's predicted sunshine will melt the last vestiges of Friday's snow that linger in shaded spots under pine trees and against outbuildings.
The outdoor thermometer read 26 degrees but it's always warm in the greenhouse, thanks to the supplemental gas heat that lends it glow as I make my early morning visit. Once I turn on the lights, here's what I find.

I am quite pleased with the progress of the tomato plants and pepper plants I am growing for sale this spring.
I have selected many tomato varieties that promise to do well in our northern climate. Click here for descriptions.
55-60 Days
Gold Nugget Cherry
Sophie's Choice
60-65 Days
Silvery Fir Tree
Oregon Spring
New Girl
Organic 506
65-70 Days
Mountain Princess
Northern Ruby (Paste)
Roma (Paste)
75 - 85 Days
Amish Paste

Peppers are a bit of a challenge for home gardeners. I've located some new-to-me varieties to try this year with promised early harvest.
Sweet Peppers
King of the North
California Wonder
Charleston Belle
Carolina Wonder
I will also have extras of the varieties I plant in the high tunnel including Carmen (an Italian red pepper) and Chocolate (dark brown and gnarly).
Hot Peppers
Early Jalapeno
Ring Of Fire
Hungarian Wax
Click here for complete descriptions.

To ensure the best selection, it is best to pre-order your plants so I can put them aside before I offer plants to the public. They'll continue to have their tender, loving care until you're ready to plant them in your garden.
Please call 814-274-8004 or email for details.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

USDA Certified Organic Pepper Plants

Here is a listing of the USDA Certified Organic pepper plants we're offering for sale this year.
Call 814-274-8004 or email for information.

Now Available In Potter County!

All of the certified organic plants we’re offering for sale are grown the same way we grow seedlings  for our certified organic farm.

Years ago when we were just beginning our transition to organic, we set out to find organic plants. We thought it would be easy but discovered that there were no local sources. That first year we went all the way to Ithaca, N.Y. to buy plants that were “grown organically” but were not USDA certified organic.
Later we made the acquaintance of Bridget and Dennis Reynolds of Quest Farm in Almond, N.Y. , a USDA certified organic farm, and purchased our plant starts from them for several years. At the same time, we began to work on a system to begin to grow our own organic seedlings.

Beginning in March, the carefully selected USDA certified organic seeds are sown in seeding trays with Organic Mechanics seed starting mix. The seedlings are transitioned to their individual pots after the grow true leaves. We’ve chosen OMRI listed peat pots for this step and the soil is Vermont Compost Company’s Fort Vee.
The plants are tended daily and spend time in the sunshine behind the glass of our heated greenhouse as well as under grow lights.
Let us grow for you! Call 814-274-8004 or email us at for details.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

16 Varieties Of USDA Certified Organic Tomato Plants

It's April 1 and it's been cold, rainy and gloomy outside the past few days. However, inside the plants are warm and enjoying the time under the grow lights.  As I was working on this listing, big fluffy snowflakes were flying around outside my window.
It's always exciting to watch the seeds poke through the soil and open their leaves to the light.
We've expanded our offering of USDA certified organic tomato plants after launching plant sales in 2016. There are 16 varieties from which to choose.
Tomatoes with very short growing seasons - best suited for our climate

Enjoy these later in the growing season - canning and sauce varieties
The next posting will list the hot and sweet pepper varieties for 2017.