Down on the farm: See how much bigger the broccoli heads grow when the weather cools off? We went from 3 heads/pound to each head now weighing a pound or more. (Again I tell myself-quit starting broccoli too early! Those small heads are not worth the space in the field and the time the crew spends to seed, transplant, and care for them.) Farms in Palm Beach County have lost hundreds of acres and hundreds of thousands of dollars this fall and winter. Small farms, such as Kai-kai, Swanks, and us have not lost the big acreages and dollars, but, as a percentage of our acreage and incomes lost, we are definitely keeping up with the big guys now. Here's what crops on this farm were damaged by the rain, and high winds last week: ALL OF THEM! Of course there are differences in types and degrees of damage-and you will notice shortages of some things more than others in the coming weeks: So far the majority of the new and younger tomato plants look ok. Tomatoes are just taking a long time to ripen due to lack of sun when the days are already short. Of course, a lot more tomato fruits are cracking, meaning we are throwing out-or just leaving in the field- over half of them. We appreciate that many of you can live with some tomatoes with some cracks in them. But when a tomato cracks just as it is starting to ripen, it's difficult to know what to do with it. Sometimes the fruit may ripen and still be usable, and other times it may rot because of fungi or bacteria which get into the cracks. So we try not to give you tomatoes with too many and/or large cracks. Pepper fruits often rest on the plastic mulch and will sometimes have a rough spot there. If they are used soon, the pepper is usually just fine. But, if we try to keep those with a spot like that, it can often develop into a rotten place in the fruit. The bacteria Erwinia carotovora can also cause a soft rot on peppers, as well as some other vegetables. At warm temperatures, it can cause a pepper fruit to completely collapse within 2 days of infection. About 10% of the new plants in our next crop of summer squashes were killed by fungal diseases which either live in the soil or are splashed onto the plants. I am probably most disappointed- and surprised- by how many greens we lost. Since we had that cooler weather right after the rain, I was hoping that would keep down the disease incidence. Bacterial and fungal plant pathogens just start growing on the leaves when they have the right temperatures and moisture. The biggest crop of baby arugula (should have picked it this week) is mostly dead-we'll till it up. The next youngest one doesn't look great, but it may make it-I'll see in a couple days. So far the crop which just germinated appears to be ok. Baby kales are in better shape-we are putting on fertilizer (most of which had probably washed away) to try to get them to grow. The bigger leaves of spinach are all ruined by spots and yellowing-it appears to be the fungus Cercopsora. But maybe (if we don't get too much rain this week) applications of fungicides and nutrients can save those plants. They are on our drip irrigation system so it is easy to add fertilizer to them. Like other crops that were seeded in the fields just before the rain, the new spinach is just germinating so we will have to see if it is worth trying to save. The beds have washed down so much that they will not be up high enough to be out of the water from any additional rains. If you have been with us for at least a couple years, you may have noticed that the Salanova lettuce you've received this season has mostly been the highly incised leaves. That's because we've found that the smoother butterhead and oak leaf types did not stand up the heat as much. So we didn't start them until later. Some of them would have been ready to include in the mix this week, but they are also more susceptible to lettuce bacterial spot. Usually that disease is not a problem until well into the spring, so we also stop growing those varieties before the end of the lettuce season. They are already spotted now, so I'm not sure if they will be worth harvesting. But, we will still have the same kinds of Salanova that we have had for the last month or so. As well as tomatoes, peppers, corn, squash, and eggplants which travel north from PB Co. farms, two growers in this county and one in Hendry Co. supply a lot of fresh herbs to the northeast U.S. at this time of year. I imagine most of their perennial herb plants (thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, and Mexican mint marigold- "tarragon") will make it, unless they are growing in an area that really doesn't drain well. But probably the only fresh basil that will be harvested around here for a few weeks will be the small amount which is grown in greenhouses by some small growers. Basil is easily damaged by cold winds, and the crop is also affected by downy mildew. Like other direct seeded crops, seeds may have been washed away and planting beds knocked down by heavy rains.
What's in your box: Salanova salad mix cherry tomatoes (2 in large boxes, if we do not have many other tomatoes) peppers?? may have to be green ones tomatoes-few, and not very ripe broccoli or cauliflower (probably both in large boxes) green beans French breakfast radishes Cherokee tall red lettuce (large boxes only).
Enjoying your veggies: With a bit of slightly cooler weather, many of you are making broccoli and/or cauliflower soup. Retired food technologist, long term subscriber, (and one of our chief recipe testers!), Gerri, wrote that she tried several broccoli soup recipes last week. She decided the best was one for broccoli chowder that she adapted from "Taste of Home". Donna will add it to the recipe list on the subscriber pages of our website as soon as she has a chance in the next couple days. (Password for the subscriber page this year is "eggplant".)
LESS THAN 2 WEEKS! Our annual Subscriber Open House will be February 13th and 14th. This Open House is not open to the general public, but subscribers are invited to bring friends and/or family. Each of those days, there will be farm tours at 9AM, 11AM, and 1PM. Tours usually last about an hour, or slightly longer.
There is also a potluck lunch at noon each day. If you want to come share lunch with other subscribers, reserve your spots in either the 11 AM or the 1 PM tour, so you can eat after or before your tour. If you will be joining us for lunch, you don’t have to tell us what you’re going to contribute to the potluck. We just eat what everyone brings and always seem to end up with a good mix of main dishes, salads and other side dishes, breads, and desserts. (Sometimes it seems to be a little heavy on the desserts, but I haven't heard any complaints about that!) We supply the drinks, plates, and eating utensils.
The only requirement for that day is that you do reserve your spot in a tour group. Please e-mail your reservations to Donna at email@example.com . We need to know 3 things: 1. your name (not the names of everyone in the party-just the subscriber who is making the reservation); 2. the TOTAL number of people in your party (please count the children, too); 3. which DAY (Saturday Feb. 13th or Sunday, Feb. 14th) and the tour TIME (9, 11, or 1) you wish to attend. Donna will send you a confirmation within 2 days. If you don't receive that from her, please check with her again to be sure she got your reservation.
We try to limit each tour group to 50 people, so, if your first choice is full, we may ask you to change to a different time. If you are bringing a big group, please send in your request early to reserve spaces. If you don’t know how to get to the farm, let Donna know where you’ll be coming from and she will e-mail the directions to you. (Your GPS will get you close but it won't know where the true entrance to the farm is.)
A few tips for attending our Open House: All ages are invited. Everyone usually enjoys picking samples of cherry tomatoes, herbs, and/or carrots, depending on what is ready. (Please don't plan on stocking up to make sauce, though!) The tour walk is less than a half mile, but the ground can be a little rough-not all strollers will work on it. We will have an electric golf cart available for those who may wish to come, but can’t make the walk. (If you will need that for someone in your party, please let Donna know when you are making your reservation.) And not everyone has to take the whole walk-you can drop out at any time and go back to your car or sit down in our greenhouse and have a drink. Please remember that this is a real working farm, not a theme park: everyone should wear clothes appropriate for the weather, and shoes that can get dirty, especially if there has been recent rain. Since this is such a rainy winter, I need to add some comments, too: in case of rain at your tour time, you may choose to come to a different tour. If we have to cancel anything, we'll put a message on our answering machine. So, if you are in doubt about whether to come, please call the farm office: 561-638-2755. A little housekeeping: You may be wondering why your February payment is larger than most months. That's because we go by the number of Mondays in a month and this month happens to have 5 Mondays (as did November). The B biweekly subscribers will pay for 3 weeks this month, just like the A week group paid for 3 weeks in November. It all comes out even in the end-everyone ends up paying for the full 34 week season (minus any boxes you skipped, of course). The schedule you received at the beginning of the season shows how this works.
Weekly extras: The best way to order extras is to email Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org 2 PM the day before you get your box. If you are ordering later than that, please call 561-638-2755 and leave the message on the machine, since we don't always have time to check email in the mornings. (Those ordering for Monday boxes should call and leave a message, since you don't receive this list in time to order by email.)
Flowers require earlier orders since we have to order them from other farms. For more information, please check the "Weekly Extras" section on the subscriber pages of our website.
Locally grown Flowers (for Tuesday boxes, order by noon on the Friday before your box; for Thursday and Friday, order by noon on Wednesday). For information about these flower growers and some pictures of their flowers, check the Subscriber Business Links on our Subscriber section
Seed to Bloom, Loxahatchee: colorful mixed bouquets-whatever is in season $10.00 each (Sorry-not available for Monday boxes.) Caribbean Exotics, Delray Beach: long- stemmed Heliconia-large, impressive "ginger" flowers $15
They're back-at least for this week: Namwah bananas (short and plump) from Yagnapurush Farm in Loxahatchee. 1 lb. $1.50 3 lbs. $4
McCoy's Honey-raw, unfiltered, locally produced http://www.mccoysfloridahoney.com/ 1 lb. glass jar $5.00 each (wildflower, palmetto, or orange blossom) 3 lb. plastic jug $14.00 each (wildflower, palmetto, or orange blossom) 1 lb. glass jar Orange blossom honey with comb included $6.50
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch cilantro mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) specialty mints (apple, peppermint) oregano parsley rosemary sage tarragon thyme
Baby Greens $2.50/bag Salanova salad mix 8 oz. bag Microgreens, sandwich bag (mix may contain radishes, arugula, kale, and/or purple kohlrabi leaves) Baby kale???? 8 oz. bag
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch) Curly green kale Broccoli leaves Cauliflower leaves (to me they taste just like the broccoli leaves-slightly bitter) Tuscan (lacinato) kale Swiss chard and collard greens are available again-leaves are small, though
Other Veggies and fruit from our farm (sorry-no regular size tomatoes) NEW! broccoli $2/lb. fennel bulbs $3/lb. tomatillos $4/lb. 'Cherokee' tall red lettuce $2.50/each green tomatoes $1.50/lb. Bell peppers, probably only green $2.00/lb. (3-4 per pound) Lunchbox snack peppers-mostly yellow, few orange and red $4.50/lb. Papayas $1.50/lb. (most weigh 2-3 lbs.) choose green or yellow/almost yellow Hot peppers: mix or match; sandwich bag of 4-5 peppers $3 Jalapenos-green or red, hot (still only a few available) Cherry bomb peppers-round, red, hotter!