Down on the farm: Well, this is certainly discouraging: we all got used to eating more of those healthy greens and now we don't have any! (Aren't you glad you have alternatives-that your family is not dependent on 1 farm or garden for your food?) Of course, we expect to run out of Salanova and other lettuces as the weather warms up. So this is the time we switch to more arugula and kale for salads and cooking. But I just gave up trying to control the diamondbacks and plowed down all our kale and arugula because the leaves looked like lace. Even as we tilled in all those baby greens on Friday, I was thinking about the reasons I can't seem to control the diamond back moths on some Brassica crops, but others do not have much damage. Obviously, there are chemical differences between the species that affect where the mama moths choose to lay their eggs. And, since we grow the things that the most people want to buy, we're not going to change what we grow very much. For instance, it appears that mustard greens are not one of the caterpillar's favorites, but mustards are not as popular with our customers as the other crops. So it wouldn't do us much good to grow more mustards.
Broccoli and cauliflower have had some feeding, but not as much as kales and cabbages. (The broccoli and cauliflower have had problems with the heat and black rot this year.) The Brussels sprouts are perhaps the cleanest. So, what I am thinking is that it is the architecture of the plants and the production system we use for baby greens that has resulted in many of the differences. Big kale plants are curly or have folds in the leaves, and cabbage, of course, grows in layers of leaves. But broccoli and cauliflower have flatter leaves and the plants are fairly open, and Brussels sprouts grow straight up, with all sides exposed. So, when that sprayer goes down the row, it can cover all sides of the Brussels sprouts plants, and many of the leaves of broccoli and cauliflower. But those inner leaves of cabbage don't get covered, and the curly kales have places that the pesticides wouldn't reach.
Our baby greens are even worse: they are seeded 12 rows on a bed and, if they all come up well, we have a solid mass of kale, arugula, or mustards, 30" wide. It looks pretty and can be cut quickly. However, when we spray, it is difficult for the pesticide to penetrate that umbrella of leaves. So, what I'm going to try for the rest of this season is to plant fewer rows on a bed so that there are spaces between them. It will be less efficient as far as planting and will take longer to cut the same amount, but it is preferable to having none to cut.
Twice this winter we planted corn and didn't get much germination. This is the first of those crops, so the corn plants are rather spread out. Since the pollen produced by the tassels on the top of the corn plant must fall on to the silks for the corn kernels to grow normally, sometimes they don't get enough pollen when there is too much space between the plants. So, there will probably be more ears that are not completely filled out. Sorry-but I thought you would rather have shorter ears of corn than none at all.
I'm also sorry that we ran out of the peaches from the Florida Research Center for Agricultural Sustainability (Vero Beach) so quickly. We are hoping to be able to get more so, if you want some of those, be sure to email Donna and ask to be on the waiting list. Unless they have an unexpectedly large next harvest, we will still have a limit of 2 lbs./per subscriber ($3/lb). And I don't know yet when those next ones-if there are any-will be ready. While I was there, I brought some Key limes and Persian limes. So, they are on the extras list, too. Lime season is just starting, so, if I do go up again for peaches, I'll bring more of them-if a lot of you want to by them.
The little herb micro-plugs are also on the extras list again-most are bigger than normal microgreens. We really grow these to be used as micro greens, but yes, you can grow them into plants, if you put them into the ground or a bigger pot (5-6" probably best). The dill, chervil, fennel, and cilantro will probably grow flower stalks pretty quickly, so plan to use them in a couple weeks, at most. I'm not sure how long the red veined sorrel or the red pak choi will last. They would probably not mind some afternoon shade, but do need some sun each day. Lemon balm also would do better in some shade, and it can make a permanent plant-it's like a lemon mint, but grows taller than most mints. Only the basils are really happy in the heat. Don't water unless the soil is dry on top, and be sure they have good air circulation around them to help prevent them getting the downy mildew.
I don't think I have never knowingly sold a crop or plant with an insect (that eats that plant) on it. But, since most of you are not normal consumers (and I mean that in the most loving way), I thought some might want to raise some pretty butterflies. Some of our dill and fennel microplugs (and maybe a few cilantro) have a larva of black swallowtail butterflies on them. That's because those larvae eat only plants in the family called Umbelliferous plants or Apiaceae. If you want one-or a couple-of those caterpillars, let Donna know. We won't charge extra for the larvae (LOL), but I do suggest you get several additional dill, fennel, or cilantro plants so they have enough to eat to grow up to be butterflies. That plant family also includes parsley, fennel, carrots, celery, and lots of others, so you may already have some food for them in your garden. For more information: http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/bfly2/eastern_black_swallowtail.htm
What's in your box this week: tomatoes corn cherry tomatoes broccoli??? basil peppers beans (yellow 'Gold Play') summer squashes a cucumber or two eggplant (large boxes only) salad??? (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies: To have something green- and locally grown-in the boxes this week, we are planning to get basil from Pontano Farms. Besides, it goes well with tomatoes, corn, and eggplant. By now most of you know how to store and use this popular herb. If you haven't had experience with it, the most important thing is not to store fresh basil below 45 degrees. For short term storage, treat it like a cut flower: make a new cut on the stem right above the original one and put the stems in water at room temperature. Or, for longer storage, put it in the food processor with a little olive oil as you might do it making a pesto. Then freeze in small quantities to add to sauces or dressings or to make pesto. (Some use an ice cube tray.)
Here's what we have a lot of this week: cherry tomatoes. Several years ago some subscribers surprised me by telling me that, when they had too many cherry tomatoes, they used them for tomato sauces, which they froze. They roast the tomatoes and process them in a blender or food processor. I thought there would be too many pieces of tomato skins, but that didn't bother me-and obviously it doesn't bother a lot of you, either. Of course, you can also roast them and use them right away-with pasta or maybe as a bruschetta (technically, though, I guess that uses uncooked tomatoes). And it is also a really good time of year for gazpacho. (I always get hungry when I write this section!)
Around our area: The annual charity event, Taste of the Nation, is at the Kravis Center this Thursday. If you go, be sure to visit the tables of the chefs who serve some of the same vegetables that you do (You're in good company!): Zach Bell from Addison Reserve Country Club; Manlee Siu from Angle at Eau Palm Beach Resort; Clay Conley from Buccan and Grato; Rick Mace from Café Boulud; Eric Baker from Max's Harvest; and Lindsay Autry from The Regional. Even if they are not serving anything from our farm for this event, they will probably have produce from other local farms such as Kai-kai or Swanks. They are all donating their time to raise money for charities that help to feed families-especially children-in our county who don't have access to enough good food.
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.)
Cut flowers require earlier orders since we don't keep a supply of them here. We order just the number of bouquets that we need from the other farms.
Locally grown Flowers (for Monday and 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. $9.50 plus tax
Caribbean Exotics, Delray Beach: long- stemmed Heliconia-large, impressive "ginger" flowers $20 plus tax (most stems are about 3' tall)
McCoy's Honey-raw, unfiltered, locally produced http://www.mccoysfloridahoney.com/ 1 lb. glass jar $5.00 each palmetto only (When these are gone, we will no longer be carrying 1 lb. jars.) 3 lb. plastic jug $14.00 each (orange blossom, palmetto, wildflower) 1 gal. $52 (orange blossom or palmetto; 12 lbs. honey) 8 oz. bee pollen $12
LeDuc "Flavor Pict" Honey (most from his Loxahatchee hives, although some are on our farm) Honey 1 qt. glass jars $17 (new crop) Honey with comb 1 pt. glass jars $17
NEW! Microgreen plugs: 30¢ each: dill, cilantro, chervil, red veined sorrel, fennel, green or purple basil, red pak choi, and lemon balm
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch basil chives cilantro?? It bolts in warm weather so it won't be available much longer. dill lemon balm (It's like a lemon mint) mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) specialty mints: chocolate mint, apple mint, peppermint, orange mint oregano parsley rosemary sage "tarragon" thyme
Lemongrass $3 for 1/2 lb. (about 5 stalks)
'Baby' Greens $3.00/bag (8 oz. bag) 'Elegance' mustard greens mix-slightly spicy mixed mustards with some broccoli raab leaves Microgreens, sandwich bag (mix may contain radishes, arugula, red kale, and/or mustard greens)
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch or head) Swiss chard- red only
NEW! From Florida Research Center for Agricultural Sustainability, Vero Beach Persian limes (regular limes) $3/lb. Key limes $5/lb.
From Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee: 'Namwah' bananas -$1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4 short and slightly chubby
Squashes Seminole pumpkins $1.50/lb. and/or a few small butternut squashes Yellow squash or zucchini $2/lb.
Tomatoes Red slicers $2.50/lb. Mixed cherry tomatoes sandwich bag $3 Green tomatoes $2/lb.
Other Vegetables and fruits from our farm Brussels sprouts (on the stalk) $1/lb. (last week or two)