Down on the farm: This is going to be a week for mostly fruiting crops. Anticipating the usual end of season slow-down in demand, I cut back on planting of greens-obviously more than I should have. But I can't take all the credit. The doves decided to contribute by making a feast of our seeds. Then some of the seeds washed out in a rain. So, all those factors contributed to us not having any arugula or much kale this week.
But, the good news is, we do have lots of other veggies-including a big supply of all tomatoes again, so expect more of them in your box now. The new crop of green beans looks very pretty thanks to recent weather conditions. I usually grow 'Maxibel', which is a French filet variety. It is a really good bean even if we let it get a little bigger than the very fine filet types. The seed costs 2-4 times other bean seeds, so I keep trying others. But I always come back to this one.
Since almost all of us prefer red peppers, we're going to skip the peppers this week and see if they will start to turn. We'll spray them with the white clay to try to keep them from sunburning before they ripen, and to help upset the pepper weevils.
And, just to get some green leaves in your boxes, we're going to try to get basil from Pontano Farm this week. It's a good week for it, since it goes well with tomatoes, eggplants, and corn. As I've told you before, basil grows best in warm weather so it used to be easy to grow. Now there is a fungus disease called basil downy mildew that requires frequent fungicide treatments in commercial fields-almost anywhere basil is grown. Seed companies are scrambling to develop varieties with resistance to the disease, and chemical companies have been testing fungicides to see what works and what they can get approval for using. You may be able to grow basil at your home because there is not a source of the fungus there-yet.
Since we are approaching our off-season, many of you think about growing herbs at home-in pots or in the ground. If you have the space (mostly sun) and can give them a little attention, it is a good thing to do. Then you can just pick the amount of herbs you need instead of having to deal with a whole bunch. Most of the commonly used herbs are perennials: thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, tarragon (Mexican mint marigold), and mints. But basil is an annual-as are cilantro and dill. (Parsley is biennial, so you can usually grow it for a year before it blooms.) That has important implications if you are trying to grow those. For one thing, if you want to have them all the time, I generally recommend starting them from seed. You often pay $3-4 for a herb plant. Somehow that seems OK to me if it is going to be perennial, but if you want to have basil all the time and you are going to have to replace the plant every 4-6 weeks, seeds are much more cost effective. These seeds are all easy to start in warm weather, but it does take some planning on your part-like reseeding before your older plant is gone. Of course (as I often prove to you), we don't always know when plants are going to die-sometimes they last longer; more often they die earlier. UF has an on-line publication with information about growing most common herbs: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh020
All of the herbs are sensitive to overwatering. That means: don't water when they are already wet! No one can tell you how often to water-it depends on the type of soil, how big a pot you have, the kind of plant and its age and size, temperatures, humidity, wind, and sunlight. If using pots, buy a lightweight soil mix that drains well. If planting in your yard, choose an area that drains after a rain and doesn't get sprinkled too often. (Mints will take a little more water than most other herbs, but there is a limit to how much even they will take.) Put on enough water to wet the whole root system and a little outside of it. Then don't water again until it actually starts to dry out an inch or two deep. New seeds or plants will need more frequent watering to keep them from drying out until they get roots out into the soil.
When basil and the other annuals start to bloom, you can cut them back and they will grow a little more. But once those plant hormones have switched to the reproductive stage, that plant is going to keep trying to bloom. So, for basil, that first bloom is probably a good time to plant your new seeds.
Cilantro and dill bloom rapidly in warm weather. In fact, it is almost impossible to grow cilantro here during the summer. I have seen it come out of the ground as a flower stem instead of the leafy "vegetative" stage. When it is blooming, the leaves are finer-almost fernlike- and the stems are usually fatter. It does change the flavor, too-it usually tastes somewhat bitter when it is flowering.
We are finishing up with this crop of summer squashes, but we just received some yellow squash from Perez Farm. Donna and I are having a long-running conversation about summer squashes. I think they are rather boring and we put them in the boxes too many weeks during our season. She really likes them and wouldn't mind having them all the time. Right now the virus vectoring insects are on my side, because all of our squash has viruses, which is why we are mowing it. (A 2012 publication says 59 plant viruses have been identified in cucurbits-worldwide. I think we have about 58 of them!)
A new crop is about a week away from harvest, but it will probably have viruses pretty quickly. If you have come to our Open House tours, you know that we usually grow closely related crops in the same blocks. That generally makes it easier for pest control and other crop management practices. However, when we are dealing with these kinds of diseases, it would actually be better to isolate the new crops, so it wouldn't be so easy for the insect vectors to spread the diseases from the old plants to the new ones. Right now in our fields we have a lot of cucurbits: several varieties of muskmelons (cantaloupes and honeydews), spaghetti squash, butternut squash, Seminole pumpkins, watermelons, and the summer squashes. So, trying to find a place to plant them away from other cucurbits is a challenge.
Since a few new subscribers have joined during the last few months, a reminder that, if you log in to our Subscriber's Home page (password: eggplant), you'll see a section there called Subscriber Business Links. That is a place for subscribers to share information about their businesses. If you want to add your information, please e-mail it to Donna. It can even include upcoming special events-special programs or sales.
What's in your box: tomatoes cherries and/or other small tomatoes cucumbers corn eggplant green beans broccoli or cauliflower?? basil (probably) squash (large boxes only)
A little housekeeping: The summer program will be the same as it has been for the last 2 summers. There is a $20 fee to join-that payment is the membership fee for the whole 6 weeks of the program. You'll receive the weekly list by e-mail on Sundays, and you can 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.)
So, if you are going to join, mark on your calendar these dates when our little summer market will be open: Early season: Tuesday, May 31 Friday, June 3 Tuesday, June 7 Friday, June 10 September: Tuesday, Sept. 6 Friday, Sept. 9 Tuesday, Sept. 13 Friday, Sept. 16 Tuesday, Sept. 20 Friday, Sept. 23 Tuesday, Sept. 27 Friday, Sept. 30
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 we generally have honey from McCoy's and LeDuc's Apiaries.
Donna has already put up a more detailed explanation and the simple application on our website (www.veggies4u.com). 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.
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 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 Vates blue kale-like the curly green kale, but slightly "softer" leaves
Other Veggies and fruit from our farm Tomatoes are back on the list! Tomatoes: 'Amelia' and 'Skyway' (red slicers) $2/lb. Sauce tomatoes-about 20 lbs. of tomatoes that are smaller or have more cracks or other blemishes than the other tomatoes we sell. These are available at this price ONLY by the full half bushel box-not in smaller quantities. $15 Cherry tomatoes and/or cocktail tomatoes $3/ sandwich bag Eggplants $2.00/lb. You may choose varieties, or we can put in whatever is available. This week we have Charming, Dancer, Nubia, Calliope, Rosa Bianca, and Beatrice. For pictures and descriptions of these varieties, go to: http://www.johnnyseeds.com/assets/information/eggplant-varieties-comparison-chart.pdf
Tomatillos-these are large ones-it only takes 7-8 to make a pound $3/lb. Corn (limit 1 dozen ears per subscriber, please) $.50/ear Green chiles (long New Mexico type) $4/lb. Jalapenos $.50 each
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, yellow, may be some 'Ishtar' light green cousa/Middle Eastern type $2.50/lb.