Down on the farm: This was another good growing week for those of us brave enough to try to grow cool season crops here. One of the best things about cooler weather is that it enables us to harvest a crop over a longer period of time. When it's hot, we sometimes have to pick everything and put it in the refrigerators, rather than pick for each day's boxes.
I believe this is the most beautiful cauliflower crop we have ever had. Miguel and Luis put one extra large one on the scale-it weighed 4 lbs. (We awarded it to Miguel to take home.) And there is lots of beautiful spinach, so I'll add it to the extras list-that doesn't happen often.
Meanwhile, corn, tomato, and pepper growers in the area need a warm-up to get their spring crops growing. Timing is everything for growers who need to hit the right market window. If their crops come in too late, they will be competing with crops from other regions of this or other countries, so prices will be lower. This winter we've all seen how that supply and demand curve affects prices in the stores.
You may notice that I changed arugula varieties for a few weeks. That's because the predictions for March are still for higher than average rainfall. We've been losing so much arugula to leaf spot problems in rainy periods and, in the past, this variety seemed to do better in wet weather. It is also recommended for hot weather. As always, some of you will not like it as well and others will like it better. We'll see what happens. I may decide to go back to the other one, if there is not much difference in the disease resistance.
In the first week of January (an A week), we had basil for all. Since then, we have been trying to get it for a B week. As I showed many of the tour groups during our Open House, basil was damaged a lot by weather and disease this year. Even Pontano Farm, a very experienced basil producer lost a lot of theirs-in fact, several whole crops of it. They seem to have enough this week, so we're planning to have it for everyone. We've had a good run of bell peppers this season, but will soon be very low on them for a few weeks. Part of that is because it's easier to manage the weevils if we don't have a lot of old pepper plants in the fields, so I had them cut down. And this crop of peppers got some bacterial spot, so the plants lost all their leaves. But, there are new plants growing so we should have some soon.
Remember: even though that white coating on the pepper fruit may look rather suspicious, it is approved for use by organic growers. Last week Miguel sprayed all of our peppers-including the hot ones-with Surround, the same clay suspension pesticide that we used last fall. It helps to protect against some insects and sunburn. We'll probably be putting it on regularly now-and on the tomatoes, too. Just rinse it off. Last week I mentioned that we want to try to prevent insects, diseases, and weeds from developing resistance to our pesticides. Most people are familiar with the term "resistance"-because we are constantly hearing about bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. This week several media outlets also had a report of head lice developing resistance to the pesticides used on them.
When I wrote about the newer vs. older pesticides last week, I also wanted to explain another concept which greatly affects insect resistance. It's called "mode of action" (MOA). That means how the pesticide kills the pest- where the pesticide attacks the pest- in its biochemical processes and life cycle. At a meeting, I once heard a good illustration of this. Someone asked an entomologist if a certain pesticide was dangerous to people. He said "only if you molt". His point was that the pesticide interfered with the molting process of the target insect, so they could not complete their life cycle. That made it safer for humans and other animals which don't go through a molting process.
Most of the older pesticides had several MOAs-they killed the pest at several different place in its life cycle. The chance of a mutation occurring in several processes at the same time and resulting in an insect with resistance to those chemicals was much less likely than with the newer ones which often just have a single mode of action. So, it was more difficult for a pest population to build up resistance to one of those chemicals, compared with the ones we have now.
As you can imagine, users of these pesticides (like me!), as well as the companies which produce them, have an interest in preventing development of a resistant pest population. This can usually be done by rotating pesticides with others which have a different mode of action. That isn't always easy, because different companies may have products with different names, but a similar mode of action. Global organizations called Insecticide Resistance Action Committee, FRAC (Fungicide), and HRAC (Herbicide) classify these chemicals into numbered groups, based on their mode of action. They assign the same number to those which have a similar MOA. Using chemicals with the same number too many times in a row can have the same effect as using the same chemical several times in a row. And, we generally don't want to do that because we want to prevent the development of resistance. Whew! That was a complicated explanation.
Enjoying your veggies: This is pretty much against some law for pizza connoisseurs, but, for those who are always looking for more ways to get vegetables into their diets, try a cauliflower pizza crust. Donna and I have both made them-she with more success than I. (I think the problem was that the cookie sheet I used was the kind with air in it. So the crust didn't cook right.) There are lots of recipes for it on the internet. Charlie also showed me an on-line video about making cauliflower "tortillas", using a similar process. http://tiphero.com/cauliflower-tortillas/ I even showed it to the crew. (Santa is known for her delicious homemade corn tortillas, so I doubt if anyone here is going to switch to the cauliflower version permanently!)
Around our area: In Delray Beach, the Swinton Community Growing Project has been in existence for years, and is expanding and adding activities this season. They are also recruiting new members. Check their Facebook page for more information.
A little housekeeping: We are getting into a time when many of you do some traveling. Even if your trip is weeks or months in advance, you may tell Donna whenever you know the dates you want to skip the box(es). She'll put that on your label (where it says "skips"), so she will know to skip your box that day(or days). And, please let her know if you want to get a credit on your account or you would like to donate the skipped box to the Caring Kitchen in Delray Beach.
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
MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE 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 Basil (should be available this week cilantro dill mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) specialty mints (apple, peppermint) oregano parsley rosemary sage tarragon thyme
Baby Greens $2.50/bag Arugula Salanova salad mix 8 oz. bag Red Russian kale 8 oz. bag Mustard greens 8 oz. bag Microgreens, sandwich bag (mix may contain radishes, arugula, kale, and/or purple kohlrabi leaves) Spinach 8 oz. bag (not really baby size, but I wanted it on the $2.50 list)
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch) Curly green and/or red kale Swiss chard and collard greens are available again-leaves are small, though.
Other Veggies and fruit from our farm (still a limited amount this week) Brussels sprouts on the stalk $1/lb.-most stalks are 2-3 lbs. and may have 12-15 sprouts 'Amelia' tomatoes (red slicers) $2/lb. Fennel bulbs $3/lb. Tomatillos $4/lb. (Still some in the field.) Green tomatoes $1.50/lb. Papayas $1.50/lb. (most weigh 2-3 lbs.) choose green or yellow/almost yellow Summer squashes-zucchini, yellow or 'Ishtar' light green cousa or Middle Eastern type $2.50/lb. Hot peppers: mix or match; sandwich bag of 4-5 peppers $3 Jalapenos-green Datil pepper- little yellow peppers indigenous to the St. Augustine area http://augustine.com/article/what-heck-datil-pepper