Down on the farm: It certainly looks better around here than it did last week at this time-hope it stays this way when you all come to visit us. The crew has mowed and tilled in all the crops we lost in the rain, and taken down some of the older tomato plants.
Our biggest losses in the heavy rain (other than tomatoes which cracked or got "rain check" marks on them) were all the arugula and all the Tuscan kale. The arugula that had leaves on it during the rain died-either drowned and/or died from fungi in the soil. But, since we plant baby greens in succession (500-1000 feet/week), a new crop of seed that had been planted before the rain came up right after it stopped. So far it looks OK-except we have had to add additional fertilizer since most of it washed away. So, we may be back in business with arugula as early as next week. The Tuscan kale was not dead, but most leaves had large yellow spots spreading across them from the bacterial disease black rot. It will take longer to be ready: 3-4 weeks. I made a MAJOR omission last week when I mentioned some of the other small farms which had lost as much as the big ones, as a percentage of their production: I forgot our friend Laurie (and her hard working helper, Becky) at Seed to Bloom. They certainly lost a lot of flowers in this crazy season. Some, like some of our veggies, are growing differently than usual: shorter, taller, later, or producing smaller flowers. But now the snapdragons are beautiful. Since they sell at Green Markets at Lake Worth, Wellington, and Harbourside, they also grow veggies, which have had similar problems to ours. Luckily, they have spent their summers for years building individual permanent raised beds (held in place by wood frames), so their crops had better drainage than most farms and nurseries in Loxahatchee. When we used to do end of season surveys of our subscribers, the 3 most popular veggies we grew were tomatoes, corn, and broccoli. So, I always try to have a lot of those crops. Broccoli is the most difficult because we have such a short season for it. So, when we are at the time we can grow it, I try to grow so much that subscribers will call up and say that they have too much and can they exclude it now. As far as I know, we still haven't been able to do that. This week I think there is enough cauliflower and broccoli for everyone to have both. The beets are driving me crazy this year. It's mostly my fault-I was trying to come up with a new system to grow more of them-with less weeding. So, many of them were too crowded, and then it was too hot so they dried out, and then it rained too much so they ran out of fertilizer. But there are still a lot of them in the field, so we are working on fixing the problems so we can harvest a good crop of them before it gets too hot again. Apologies to those who like the "head" lettuces, but I've given up on them for the rest of this season (except for the few which are in the field now). The weather has been too erratic. We pulled up more than we harvested. The only reason we didn't throw out as many as last season was because I didn't plant as many. Even if the weather stays cool, some of them still get leaf spot diseases and internal rots when it rains frequently. We're also not going to grow the little D'Avignon radishes anymore. They're cute, but often are not very flavorful, and are time-consuming to harvest (which means expensive, you know). If the French really do eat them for breakfast, that must be because French consumers are willing to pay more for produce. If you like radishes, these are a good crop to grow in even a home garden.
You know why it's going to be cool this week? Because this is the week we were going to start planting spring crops: melons, corn, and winter squashes. These crops will germinated much better if the soil is warm, so, if air temperatures are cool, I hope we get some sun to warm up the soil. Most of these are direct seeded into the soil where they will grow. But, since the seedless watermelons are a little weaker than most other seeds and are also expensive, they are seeded first into flats and then transplanted into the field. So, if it gets too cold, we'll move the flats into the office and let Donna baby-sit them for us. (Next week I'll tell you how they get seeds to plant seedless watermelons.)
What's in your box: Salanova salad mix cherry tomatoes peppers tomatoes broccoli cauliflower (yellow or white heads) squash (large boxes only) baby bok choy (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies: If you are getting too much of some veggies right now, don't forget freezing. I think it is easier to freeze in small amounts, compared with other preservation methods such as canning, pickling, etc. For complete and dependable information about safely using almost any kind of food preservation methods, look at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website (nchfp.uga.edu). It is hosted by the University of Georgia, but is funded by USDA Cooperative Extension and includes information from other land-grant universities.
OK-THIS IS THE WEEK! It's not too late to sign up for our annual Subscriber Open House, which is this Saturday and Sunday, February 13th and 14th. None of the tour times are full, but, of course, the 9 AM tours on both days have the fewest people signed up (but that's if you're not having lunch with us). 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 firstname.lastname@example.org . 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 (a little farther to the carrots!), and 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, we need an "in case of rain" plan. If the weather is going to be bad 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.
Weekly extras: The best way to order extras is to email Donna at email@example.com 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
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? not sure if it will be available this week cilantro NEW! dill mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) specialty mints (apple, peppermint) oregano parsley rosemary sage tarragon thyme
Baby Greens $2.50/bag SORRY-NO ARUGULA THIS WEEK 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 and/or red kale Broccoli or cauliflower leaves Brussels sprouts leaves-these are smaller and seem to be less bitter than the broccoli and cauliflower leaves (but the sprouts are not ready yet) Swiss chard and collard greens are available again-leaves are small, though
Other Veggies and fruit from our farm 'Amelia' tomatoes (red slicers) $2/lb. (might not be fully ripe) Fennel bulbs $3/lb. Tomatillos $4/lb. Green tomatoes $1.50/lb. Green chiles $4/lb (the long Anaheim or New Mexico type, not exceptionally hot) . Bell peppers, green, suntan, or red $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 Cherry bomb peppers-round, red, hotter!