Happy Passover to those who are beginning your celebration later this week. Down on the farm: On Thursday I told the crew we were going to put tents in the field and we would all spend the weekend here to guard our new corn from the birds and raccoons. But I didn't know that the list of possible problems was going to include the hail on Friday evening, since it doesn't usually hail in south Florida. Thank goodness only a few random-though large-hailstones made it to the ground here. So far we have opened 2 ears of corn and found no silk fly larvae. Let's hope that this crop is clean so that everyone can get some of it. In a drive through The Glades yesterday, I noticed that the big growers there are also harvesting corn right now. It's also time for the annual Sweet Corn Fiesta next Sunday, the 24th, at Yesteryear Village at the Fairgrounds: http://sweetcornfiesta.com/
Get your eggplant recipes ready-we planted about 30% more eggplants than we usually plant, so there should be a lot for whoever wants them. All of us here are so happy when we have good supplies of pretty and varied veggies to put in your boxes and to sell to our friends in the restaurant business-and so sad when we don't have them.
Perhaps there is no horticultural subject on the internet that has more misinformation- disguised as the truth-than this silly business about male and female eggplants. The eggplant part we eat is the fruit of the plant, which is produced from the ovary. That means every eggplant (and every fruit from any plant) is a product of the female part of the flower. Eggplant flowers (as well as pepper and tomato flowers) contain both male and female parts. Therefore, they are almost always self-pollinated. They don't need bees, just a little wind to move the flower enough to cause the pollen to fall onto the stigma, in the center of the flower. In greenhouses, where the air may be still most of the time, bumblebees are sometimes used, because the movement caused by the bees landing on the flower can help to move than pollen.
Now, the characteristics that are supposed to differ between "male and female" eggplant are shape, number of seeds, and bitterness. Are there differences between those characteristics? Of course there are! You've seen all kinds of different shapes, sizes, and flavors in the tomatoes and peppers you get from us-even if they are all the same variety. So, the first thing that makes eggplant fruits differ is the variety-and that can interact with these other factors. Another factor is environmental conditions: temperature, humidity, and lack of air movement at the time the plant is ready for pollination will affect that pollination. Insects, such as thrips, can cause incomplete pollination because they feed on pollen. Plant health also causes changes in the eggplant fruit characteristics-if the plant is lacking certain nutrients, it may not produce normal pollen or normal fruit. And, as plants get older and/or are affected by diseases, pollination is often not complete so the fruit does not fill out completely and/or has an odd shape. (We often see that on squash and cucumber fruits from older plants-the fruit may not be filled out on one end. Cucumbers with a very skinny end are called "pigtails" and are considered unmarketable-although you will sometimes see them in your boxes when we have no other cucumbers.)
And these cucumbers are doing what cucumbers do in warm weather-producing a lot. So there will probably be 3 in the large boxes and 2 in the small ones this week.
If you received any cauliflower in the last 2 weeks, heads were mostly small and many were not tight heads, so you can see that cauliflower is pretty much done for this season. We actually have two more plantings of broccoli out there-if it makes anything worth harvesting, we will include it in the boxes when it is ready. (I admitted to the crew I was "loca" to plant broccoli so late, even though it is a variety that is supposed to be heat tolerant.)
A new crop of tomatillos is ready-this is a new variety which has pretty large fruit. I was a little late planting the peppers to go with them, so the new jalapenos and other chiles are just barely starting to produce.
What's in your box: arugula or kale (both in large boxes) tomatoes cherries or other small tomatoes cucumbers a green pepper corn eggplant onions squash (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies: All our lettuce for this season is done. As experienced subscribers know, that means the greens for the rest of the season will be arugula and kale-unless there is too much rain and they die, too. Most of you are good at preparing greens. But, here are a few ideas for new subscribers, who might not be used to using these. Try thinking of them as lettuce-besides making a salad, put a couple leaves on a sandwich-even a burger or a BLT. (It's one way to get a little bit of greens into the diets of those who usually don't eat them.)
And either of these can be used as cooking greens. When you cook greens, they collapse, because the water goes out of them. So a half pound becomes just a handful when you sauté it-a small amount to include in an omelet or serve with pasta. If you are serving something like soup, chile, or spaghetti, plop a handful of greens in the bowl or plate first, and they (especially arugula) will collapse when you add the warm topping. Or even just put a warm piece of meat or fish on top of the greens on your plate and the greens-especially arugula- will "cook" a little. You may want to slice or chop them first, just to make them easier to eat. Many people put arugula on a pizza as soon as it comes out of the oven.
And, of course, there are also the famous (infamous?) kale smoothies and kale "chips". But, if you decide that you really don't want to get these greens, let Donna (firstname.lastname@example.org) know so that she can put them on your list of exclusions and replace them with something that you would prefer.
A little housekeeping: The summer program will be the same as it has been for the last 2 summers. It will be the two weeks right after our regular program ends (May 27): Tuesday, May 31-Friday, June 10. Then there will be four weeks in Sept., beginning on Sept. 6, the day after Labor Day and ending on Sept. 30. (The regular season will start on Oct. 3.)
There is a $20 fee to join-that payment is the membership fee for the whole 6 weeks of the program. Then you'll get the weekly list e-mailed to you on Sundays, and you come to the little tent at the pickup site on the farm to buy what you want on Tuesdays and Fridays from 8:30 AM until 6:30 PM. (There is no delivery available during the summer program.)
Please understand that there will only be warm-season crops (and not all of them each week). That may include: summer squashes; greens such as arugula, baby kale, mustards, purslane, and Asian greens; cucumbers; winter squashes such as butternut and Seminole pumpkins; eggplants; okra; southern peas; melons; and corn. When tropical fruits are available, we sometimes include them (longans, lychees, or mangos), and generally have honey from McCoy's and LeDuc's Apiaries. Please sign up through our website ( www.veggies4u.com). The simple application will be on our home page by next Monday, April 25. Sometime before May 16, please send or bring your $20 payment. It can be put into the mailbox at the pickup site-just be sure to designate who it is from and what it is for. (If you are writing a check, please write a separate check from one you may be writing for the regular season program.) This program is not limited to our current subscribers so, if you have friends or neighbors who would like to sign up, we would be glad to have them! If you-or they- need directions to the farm, Donna will supply those to you. Around our area: If you've been thinking about getting new plants for your yard, the Mounts Botanical Garden annual spring plant sale is next Saturday and Sunday (23rd and 24th). There is always an amazing selection of interesting plants for sale from the 80 vendors that will be there. http://www.mounts.org/things-to-do/plant-sales/ (Donna is a Master Gardener, so you may see her there helping.) 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
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, orange blossom, or palmetto)
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch Basil cilantro (difficult to grow in hot weather, so availability is going down) dill apple mint mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) oregano parsley rosemary sage tarragon thyme
Baby Greens $2.50/bag Arugula 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)
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch) Curly green and/or red kale Tuscan kale Vates blue kale-like the curly green kale, but slightly "softer" leaves Swiss chard (red, white, or mixed))
Other Veggies and fruit from our farm NEW! Eggplants $2.00/lb. (You may choose varieties, or we can put in whatever is available.) 'Dancer', light purple 'Nubia', purple and white striped 'Rosa Bianca', a large round Italian heirloom- pink/purple, streaked with white NEW! Tomatillos-these are large ones-it only takes 7-8 to make a pound $3/lb. NEW! Corn (limit 1 dozen ears per subscriber, please) $.50/ear NEW! Green chiles (long New Mexico type) $4/lb. NEW! Jalapenos (only a few ready) $.50 each Cherry tomatoes and/or cocktail tomatoes $3/ sandwich bag Papayas $1.00/lb. (most weigh 3-4 lbs.) choose green or yellow/almost yellow (not as many now) Summer squashes-mix or match: zucchini, may be some yellow or 'Ishtar' light green cousa/Middle Eastern type $2.50/lb.