Down on the farm: Today I picked 1 ripe tomato from the new crop of Amelia plants. So, maybe they will start to ripen this week. The old crop is completely gone so, until this one ripens, there will only be cherries and cocktail size tomatoes. The reason these are probably taking so long is that they had a lot of nitrogen, which caused them to keep growing leaves (vegetative growth) for a longer time before they started flowering (reproductive growth). That extra nitrogen came from the poultry manure that was added for the ASD research project that we are doing with scientists at the USDA Horticultural Research Lab. (See Nov. 30 newsletter.) Although these were not in the research plots, we did use the leftover extra organic materials on other areas, since research is showing that this system is going to be beneficial. In the long run, it's good for the crops, which grow larger and fuller, but it can make fruiting crops take longer to produce. As much as 30% of these new plants already have the tomato yellow leaf curl virus, which is carried from plant to plant by whiteflies. But, as we learned last year, we can still get a surprising number of tomatoes from infected plants.
Lettuce season is ending soon for us. This "cool" front may give us another week of Salanova lettuce, but that's the most we can hope for. Those who have been with us through previous seasons know that a good Romaine crop is rare for us. This spring I tried planting one called 'Sparx' that is supposed to be heat tolerant. Heads are not quite filled out in the center, and some is already bolting. Since not all of it has bolted yet, it probably is more heat tolerant than most Romaines. But there are not enough good heads to put in all the boxes, and some may notice a slight bitterness, which is what happens to lettuce in warm weather. But I'm going to add them to the extras list ($2) and we'll pick out the best ones to sell to those who want to try them. Despite my tardiness in getting some of them planted, the warm season crops should be producing soon. Cucumbers may be ready as early as next and eggplants are not far behind. Then there will be butternut and spaghetti squashes in a few weeks. Somehow I'm always complaining about diseases and insects but I rarely mention weeds. And, if you pick up your box, you can see that they are an annual problem here, especially in the spring. How do you define a weed? The simplest definition is "a plant out of place". However, this may depend on your point of view. When we lived in rural north Texas, my neighbor, Cheryl, and I were always trying to encourage wildflowers to grow in the fields on our farms-most of which were used as pastures for our horses and cattle. One day she told me that she was very upset with her husband because he was mowing their pastures and had mowed the wildflowers that she was trying to protect. (If you want to have wildflowers every year, the trick is to mow them after the majority of them have already gone to seed.) To him they were weeds-and, of course, Charlie agreed with him. Since Cheryl knew that I was a horticulturist, she asked me how you know if a plant is a wildflower or a weed. I said I guess it depends on whether you are a man or a woman! But most of the unwanted plants in our fields here are definitely weeds. They are minimal problems in the fall. That's because we have just tilled the fields several times during the summer, so a lot of the summer weeds have been killed. We've also used solarization and sometimes ASD on many blocks and laid new plastic mulch in most blocks. Towards the end of fall, the winter weeds germinate. Laurie (Seed to Bloom) and I were talking the other day about how each weed species "knows" the right time of year to germinate so that it generally has the weather it needs for its life cycle. In the December and January short days and cooler weather, those weed seedlings grow very slowly. However, as we get into February, they begin to grow like crazy. Some of the pigweeds, nightshades, and others can easily grow 3' tall-or more-especially when they are in our fields stealing the fertilizers and water meant for our crops. Next week I'll write about what we do to try to control weeds here. What's in your box: Salanova salad mix cherries or other small tomatoes broccoli or cauliflower arugula squash kohlrabi Daikon radish celery (large boxes only) kale (large boxes only) Enjoying your veggies: One of the veggies that has been said to be "the new kale" is kohlrabi. Although a few subscribers have asked for it, we sure haven't seen the same demand for it as there is for kale. The name kohlrabi is German for cabbage-turnip. It certainly is like a turnip that grows above ground. It's another one of those brassica vegetables, so we know it's good for us. I always think of using it sliced with dips, or adding to salads or a stir fry, so I was surprised at the diversity of ways to use it that are on the internet-even scalloped kohlrabi (like scalloped potatoes). Now we'll all wish I had grown more! A little housekeeping: Several important notes for those who pick up their boxes: On warm days, there will now be an additional cooler at the end of the tables. If you order anything that needs to be kept cool, Donna will put it into that "Extras cooler". There will be a note on the top of your box, and the items in that cooler will have names on them. Please take the time to read those notes so you aren't disappointed when you get home and discover you don't have everything you ordered. Sometimes subscribers do not get all the greens that are supposed to be included with their box. Please read the instructions on the cooler on your side of the table-the signs tell you what to take. And if someone else is picking up your box for you, please be sure they know to check for everything, too.
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.) 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 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 Salanova salad mix 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) Celery microgreens, snack size bag (last week for this)
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch or head) Escarole-still may be able to find some 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) Collard greens-leaves are small. celery $2.50/bunch-these bunches are tall, but are only about a third as full as the celery you would buy in the store (last week)
Other Veggies and fruit from our farm NEW! 'Sparx' Romaine $2/head (small) Daikon radishes-pretty big! without greens unless you tell us differently $2 each Baby bok choy-red, green, or mixed $3/lb. Brussels sprouts on the stalk $1/lb.-most stalks are 2-3 lbs. and may have 12-15 sprouts BOGO-for this last week or two for Brussels sprouts this season. Buy one, get one! Papayas $1.50/lb. (most weigh 2-3 lbs.) choose green or yellow/almost yellow Summer squashes-mix or match: zucchini, yellow,'Sunburst' little round, scalloped yellow squashes, or 'Ishtar' light green cousa/Middle Eastern type $2.50/lb. BACK AGAIN! Turnips, most baby size-'White Lady', 'Purple prince' or mixed. $3/lb. (Most greens are not in good shape, so we will cut them off. If you do want them left on, let us know and we'll look for the best ones we can find.)