This year we are not making any changes in our box schedules during the winter holidays. (However, there will be no Seed to Bloom flowers on Dec. 26 or 27.)
If your box is delivered to a business which will be closed during the holidays, please call or email Donna to make alternative arrangements. And, if you need to skip a box or two at this time of year (or any time!), please let her know as soon as possible. (firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-638-2755) If you don't get a confirmation from her in a couple days, she probably didn't get the message, so please try again. Thanks!!
Down on the farm: Charlie always says that Dec. 21st is his favorite day of the year-because the days start getting longer after that. The growth of crops sure slows down at this time of year, although leafy greens will generally grow more with less light than those that we grow for their fruit. Luckily we have a lot of tomato and pepper plants in the field now, so, even though the yield per plant may be low right now, we can pick enough to get a decent total yield.
Even though I just said the leafy greens grow better, I'm sorry to tell you that we aren't going to have lettuce of any kind this week. Most of the head lettuces I had planned to use either bolted or had brown spots from diseases on them last week. So, we ended up cutting Salanova salad mix that was only about half grown. That meant we reduced the potential yield of it by about half. So, now we need to wait for the next planting to grow more. So, we will go with some (more nutritious!) arugula for a week or two.
Frankly, I'm about to quit trying to grow any kind of "head" lettuces. We used to be able to grow it for the boxes and send out many cases of it every winter to our restaurant customers. But this is the third year in a row that it looks like we may not harvest any of it. That's a lot of money in seed, soil mix, fertilizer, pesticides, and time for the crew to seed it, transplant it, and then pull it out. We could put something else in that space, too and leave the lettuce growing to the farms that are west or north of us (although they often have the same problems; I know one of the big growers in "The Glades" has already plowed down acres of bolted Romaine this season).
Plant breeders are aware of this problem and are working on breeding lettuces which can grow in warmer weather without bolting. In fact, we will have a seed company trial here later this winter because the plant breeder wants to see which of his varieties will produce good lettuce in warm weather. (Hmmm-maybe I should plant some then, too-the time he is trying to test them under warm conditions might be the time when we get cool weather!)
And, speaking of crops which prefer cool weather: we have some warm weather cauliflower for you. That means the heads are very small since the plants have been stressed so much. (Of course, they also had the diamondback caterpillars chewing on the leaves and now have whiteflies sucking the plant juices.) The heads are fuzzy, too, which is another way cauliflower reacts to warm temperatures. This is the 'Cheddar' variety, so it is supposed to be yellow-that's not a result of the heat. I wouldn't expect great flavor from it, but I'm sure all you innovative cooks will find a delicious way to prepare it. I guess this is under the "better than nothing" heading......
I forgot to tell you that basil would be in your boxes last week. Hopefully you all recognized it. In order to get it to the biweekly subscribers who didn't get it last week, we'll put it in again in 3 weeks (unless it is damaged by cold)!
What's in your box this week: arugula a cucumber or two broccoli cherry tomatoes peppers tomatoes summer squash weird cauliflower spinach (large boxes only) beets (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies: Like lettuce, the temperate zone "root crops" also are better adapted to cool weather. Beets, carrots, and turnips will generally still grow and produce if the weather is too warm, but the flavor is not usually as good. Cold weather gives them a biochemical signal that winter is coming. Their physiological reaction to that is to store more sugars in their roots to save it so they have the energy to grow and bloom after winter. So, I will tell you that the beets this week won't be the best you ever ate. Instead of just cooking them and eating them plain, you'll probably want to put them in a dish of some kind so you can add some additional flavor to them. Roasting (as opposed to steaming or boiling) may help to concentrate the sugars that are there, too. (Really want to add some sugar to them? Try a beet chocolate cake for a holiday meal! Most recipes use pureed cooked beets, but the one on our website and some others are made with raw grated beets.)
Our "default" for beets and turnips is to cut off the greens. We used to leave them on, but found that so few subscribers want to use them that it makes it easier for you if we cut them off. If you do want them left on, please let us know. The beet leaves got spider mites (first time I have ever seen that!) so they are not as large and bright as they were a month ago.
Whenever possible, we try to pick greens crops in the morning of the day you will receive them, as we are making the boxes. However, especially at this time of year, leaves may be wet with dew until noon. For the baby greens, which Angelica and Santa wash and dry in our spinner, that doesn't matter. But, for large greens and the microgreens, it means you are receiving damp greens. If you're not going to cook them the day you receive them, wash and dry them or store them wrapped in something which will absorb moisture.
A little housekeeping: Last reminder: Thanks so much if you have chosen to donate some of your skipped boxes to the Caring Kitchen this year. If you would like tax receipts for those, please let Donna know. She will give your name, address, and the value of the boxes you donated to the Caring Kitchen, who will send you the tax receipt directly.
Around our area: Our annual Subscriber Open House will be the weekend of February 11 and 12, 2017. This Open House is not open to the general public, but subscribers are invited to bring friends and/or family. You choose the day and time you want to come-each of those days, there will be farm tours at 9AM, 11AM, and 1PM and a "pot luck" lunch. Watch for more details in January newsletters.
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 amount that we need from 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
NO FLOWERS AVAILABLE ON DEC. 26 and 27. Seed to Bloom, Loxahatchee: colorful mixed bouquets-whatever is in season. $10.00 each
Caribbean Exotics, Delray Beach: long- stemmed Heliconia-large, impressive "ginger" flowers $20 (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, wildflower, or palmetto) 1 gal. (12 lbs.) $53 Orange blossom only 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 Honey with comb 1 pt. glass jars $17
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch basil chives cilantro dill mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) specialty mints: peppermint, chocololate mint, apple mint oregano parsley sage tarragon (True French tarragon is very difficult to grow here. So this is actually Mexican mint marigold, which is used for tarragon in the south and west. All winter it also has small yellow, edible flowers.) thyme
'Baby' Greens $3.00/bag (8 oz. bag) Baby kale mix: may have 'Red Russian', a bluish "Siberian' kale, and some Tuscan kale Arugula '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 purple kohlrabi)
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch) Swiss chard- red or white or mixed Curly kale- green, red, or mixed TEMPORARILY OUT: Tuscan kale (also called Lacinato or alligator kale) TEMPORARILY OUT: Collard greens Spinach
From other farms: 'Namwah' bananas -short and slightly chubby (Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee) $1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4
Squashes Butternut squash $1/lb. (most are 1 lb or less now) Seminole pumpkins $1.50/lb. (most sizes from 1-2+ lbs.) Spaghetti squashes $1/lb. (most are about 2 lbs.) Larger "mystery" winter squashes 50¢/lb. Summer squash (zucchini?? or yellow) $1.50/lb. Squash blossoms 6 for $2.50
NEW! Tomatoes "Slicers"- most are 'Amelia' now $2.50/lb. Mixed Cherry tomatoes sandwich bag $3 (If you want these for gifts, we can put them into a pint clamshell, also $3.) Green tomatoes $2/lb. (for frying or pickling!) Heirloom tomatoes $3/lb. Mix or match (if the ones you want are available) These are fussy and fragile tomatoes. Let us know when you plan to use them and we will do our best to send you some that will be ripe when you need them. yellow 'Amana', (best supply right now) purple 'Cherokee purple' red/pink 'Pruden's purple' "Sauce tomatoes" -about 20 lbs. of tomatoes that are smaller or have more cracks or other marks than the more expensive tomatoes we sell. These are available at this price ONLY by the half bushel box-not in smaller quantities. $15
Other Vegetables and fruits from our farm NEW! Beets $4 lb. (tell us if you want the greens left on) NEW! Nasturtiums box of 10 flowers and 10 leaves $3 mixed color flowers, slightly spicy flavor; flowers and leaves can be tossed into fresh salads, and there are recipes for stuffing the flowers NEW! "Cucamelons"snack size bag $3 look like tiny watermelons, taste like a crunchy cucumber (also called Mexican gherkins) Eggplant $3/lb. Jalapeno peppers 3 for $2 NEW! Green chiles $4/lb. long New Mexico type (green and red)-let's say "medium hot?" Red or green bell peppers $.75 each Papayas $1/lb. (green or ripening) (not very many yellow ones now) NEW! Pineapple tomatillos snack bag $3 sweet, fruity flavor (take off the husks!) Turnips- $3/lb. white 'Hakurei' and/or red 'Scarlet Queen'