Down on the farm: If you have shopped for produce
lately, you know that we are not the only farm in the state/country/world that
is having a less than ideal season. Prices at the wholesale level are 2-3 times
the average for most vegetables. That's good for the farmers who are able to
harvest some now, but bad for those who do not have much marketable produce. I
hope it doesn't mean that consumers cut back on eating veggies.
Our short term damage could have been much worse-a few
hundred cherry and heirloom plants fell over. We won't bother to put up the
cherries-there are enough extras that we can live with that. However, I won't
know for a couple days how many tomatoes we will lose to cracking, rain check,
and disease. Since Miguel and Abelino spent so much time on Saturday restaking
the heirloom tomatoes which had fallen on Friday, Miguel volunteered to work
late to spray a fungicide to help protect from the predicted rains on Sunday.
No one who is harvesting wants to be throwing more on the ground than they are
able to put into the picking bucket.
Please note that we will not have any tomatoes, except
cherries, available as "extras" this week. And, since there are fewer
ripe tomatoes on our normal varieties this week, we're going to try to include
some of the different varieties that are in the fields now. Every year I grow
some new ones, so I can see if there are some that we should be growing all the
time. If you have comments about them, I am always glad to hear from you.
One (which was already in the boxes last Friday) is called 'Kakao'. It has a
small brown fruit, and was actually bred for growing in greenhouses. (I always
think we live in a greenhouse, so why not use varieties adapted to that
environment?) When I saw the first ripe fruit on it, I was thrilled
because they were so perfect-no cracking! But then I cut one and was
disappointed to find it was "puffy". That means there is a lot of
empty space inside the tomato. Something happened during or after
pollination-temperatures, too much nitrogen, etc. that resulted in not
enough seeds developing normally. When there are few seeds, the seed cavities
do not fill out correctly. This variety still might have potential if I can
figure out how to grow it right. If you don't know what to do with them,
tomatoes like this are good for making stuffed tomatoes!
The "cocktail size" yellow ones included in some
of the cherry tomato bags are 'Honey Delight', a Burpee variety suggested by
subscriber Susan, who had tried them at a Farmer's Market up north a couple
years ago. They taste good but get soft very quickly, especially when the
weather is warm. Another one similar in size is a purple one called
We also have some new varieties bred by a young plant
breeder who grows some crops on our farm. He is breeding for disease resistance
as well as flavor. Some of his varieties look like large red heirlooms, and
others are "cluster" tomatoes (small tomatoes which can be sold on
the vine). Most are not named, since they are just being tested to see if they
are worth further development.
The more I grow tomatoes and try new varieties, the
more I am convinced that the best tomatoes are always going to come out of your
own yard or garden. Plant breeders spend whole careers trying to create the
flavors and textures we want in tomato varieties that can be handled and
stored. And there are some amazing ones. But even in a situation like ours,
where there is relatively little time and transportation involved after they
are picked, we have to harvest them slightly before they are ready. If we
don't, they are soft when you get them. I know most of you have experienced
this when we try to put ripe tomatoes into your boxes.
By the way, if you do grow tomatoes-anywhere-you probably
have problems with them. Many problems are not caused by diseases-they are
often due to the physiology of the plant, environmental conditions, or what we
do or don't feed them. UF has a very helpful on-line publication called
"Physiological, nutritional, and other disorders of tomato fruit"
The best thing is that it includes pictures to help you diagnose the
So far most of the greens crops have held up to the weather.
There are spots on the leaves of some of them-like the arugula-but, if they can
stay dry for a few days, the new leaves should be better.
We're going to harvest some carrots this week-hope we have
as many as I think we do. (Just like the beets, if we don't have them for you
this week, we will have them in a few weeks.) Florida carrots have long had a
reputation as being fit only for horses to eat. But, our subscribers have
always liked to have fresh carrots so, we keep growing them. While they may not
be sweet, they do have a strong carrot flavor. (Guess what? Root crops are
generally sweeter when they are grown in cooler temperatures.) All these
were planted at the same time, so you will notice the difference in growth
rate. Some of the white and yellow ones are very large (probably best for
cooking or juicing) but the purple and red ones are generally smaller.
And experienced subscribers know that some of our carrots are shaped
funny-either because they are too crowded, or they ran into a rock or piece of
wood and had to grow around it, or there were nematodes in the soil. It doesn't
hurt much, except it can make it difficult to peel them.
What's in your box:
Salanova salad mix
cherry tomatoes (2 in large boxes if we do not have many other tomatoes)
peppers-most will be the small yellow, orange, and/or red "lunchbox"
peppers (They're not hot ones!)
tomatoes-not as many as there have been
broccoli or cauliflower
cucumber (may be in large boxes only)
curly kale (large boxes only)
A Little Housekeeping: Thanks so much for your prompt
payments. This month I think we have the highest percentage of payments being
in before the 15th that we've ever had.
IT'S THAT TIME AGAIN! 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
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
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
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.)
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
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
LeDuc "Flavor Pict" Honey (most from Loxahatchee hives) Honey 3 lb. plastic jugs $16
Honey with honeycomb 1 pint (about 1.5 lbs.) $14; 1 qt. $20
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms)
mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.)
specialty mints (apple, peppermint)
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 arugula 8 oz. bag
Baby kale 8 oz. bag
Baby mustard greens. 8 oz.
Spinach 8 oz. (this isn't really baby, but I want it on the $2.50 list!)
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch)
Curly green kale
Tuscan (lacinato) kale
We're out of Swiss chard and collard greens for a few weeks-we cut them all so
they need to grow back.
Other Veggies and fruit from our farm (sorry-no
regular size tomatoes) NEW! fennel bulbs $3/lb. tomatillos $4/lb.
'Cherokee' tall red lettuce $2.50/each
Green chiles. These are the longer ones with more moderate "heat",
sometimes called New Mexico or Anaheim types. $4/lb. (a pound is usually
about 4-6 peppers)
green tomatoes $1.50/lb. STILL A LITTLE LEFT: kohlrabi: bag
of 3-5, depending on size, with leaves $3
Bell peppers, red or green $2.00/lb. (3-4 per pound)
Lunchbox snack peppers-mostly yellow, few orange and red $4.50/lb. Eggplants-several colors available $2/lb
Papayas $1.50/lb. (most weigh 2-3 lbs.) choose green or yellow/almost
Hot peppers: mix or match; sandwich bag of 4-5 peppers $3
Jalapenos-green or red, hot (still only a
Cherry bomb peppers-round, red, hotter!