EARLY WARNING!! Our Monday and Tuesday box schedules will be changed for the weeks of Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. Please see the "Housekeeping" section below for schedule information. Down on the farm: Sorry that the beans just missed being ready for Thanksgiving. For something different, I'm trying 2 of the flat Romano, or Italian types: the light yellow one is 'Capitano' and the green one is 'Dulcina'. There will be round ones soon, too.
Over the years, people have asked me why we don't farm organically. (If you've been reading these newsletters a while, it should be obvious!) I used to say that there were a few things we could easily grow organically. Those were winter crops: lettuces and other greens, and the crucifers (mustard and cabbage family). The only problems those crops usually had (during a normally cool, dry south Florida winter) were caterpillars, which were easily controlled by the biological BT pesticides, and aphids, which could be stopped by encouraging the beneficial insects which eat them and using a little insecticidal soap. I don't say that anymore. Last season we harvested little broccoli and lost virtually all our cabbage and cauliflower. That was due to the bacterial disease "Black rot" and the diamond back moth, whose larvae are the tiny caterpillars I've mentioned before. So far this season, we seem to be successfully keeping the DBM to a low enough level that we only have lost a few plantings.
But there has been no controlling the black rot bacteria for the last 2 years. In past seasons we would have a little of it once in a while, but then the weather would get cool and dry and it would go away. It's pretty clear why it has become a constant problem here: the bacterium thrives in warm and wet weather and spreads from splashing water. When the black rot bacteria infects a plant, it moves throughout the whole plant, killing leaves one by one. That pretty well wipes out the collard greens and kales. Soon there are not enough green leaves to photosynthesize and produce the carbohydrates and other chemicals that the plant needs to produce a head of cabbage, broccoli, or cauliflower. Any heads which are produced are tiny. So, at a time when you should be getting big heads of broccoli in your boxes, we are picking a few puny heads of cabbage-and maybe some tiny broccoli, too. I have also noticed that the broccoli is more likely to taste bitter and strong when the plant is badly affected with disease.
Copper fungicides are the only recommendation for helping to stop the spread of the bacteria from plant to plant, but it can't stop it once it is inside a plant. Copper can also become toxic to plants if it is overused. Many copper fungicides are even approved for organic use (if a particular organic certifying agency allows its growers to use it). Interestingly, their labels often carry the word "Danger", which is a stronger "signal word" than any of the non organically-approved pesticides we use. As I feared, we did have to till up a lot of baby greens last week: arugula, Tuscan kale, and mustard greens. There was just too much disease on some of them to find enough leaves to cut. Some tiny plants-especially arugula-died completely and the Tuscan kale and mustards had a lot of leaves with spots from black rot and probably some fungal diseases. If we cut those and include them in a bag of greens, they can break down very fast-sometimes with a few hours. And part of the reason you buy from us is that, since our vegetables have just been harvested, you expect them to last a long time- and so do we! We do plant baby greens twice a week (unless it is raining too much). So new plantings are growing right now and hopefully some will be big enough to cut this week. (still waiting for lettuce!)
Most of you prefer red bell peppers (the ripe ones) over green. And we usually try to harvest peppers when they are at least partly red. We rarely wait until they are fully red, because red peppers are more fragile and don't last as long as the "suntan" (slightly red) or "mixed red" (mostly red) peppers. These ripening peppers almost always taste as good-or better than-the fully red ones, too.
But, last week we did include some green peppers, too. That's because a seed company which has a pepper variety trial here this fall came to harvest their trial. Palm Beach County generally produces more bell peppers than any other county in the whole country-mainly green peppers. Since this company wants to test their varieties the way they would be grown by the big growers, they harvest them green.
By the way, a crop variety trial just means planting different varieties that a seed company and/or plant breeders wants to test. Sometimes they just want to observe the new varieties to see if they are resistant to certain diseases and how they hold up in the field. Sometimes they want to actually measure the yields. We do several of these a year-with different crops. It means that we get to see some of the newest crop varieties. If our crew has to do any special work, like weighing and counting the fruit, companies pay us to do that. And, at the very least, we get free transplants of some of the latest and best varieties. And that is also why you will sometimes see some different things in your box-like the small "cocktail" size tomatoes that are starting to produce this week.
What's in your box this week: cherry tomatoes tomatoes beans bell peppers eggplants or cabbage (hopefully both in large boxes) some kind of greens?
A little housekeeping (notes from Donna): Payments for Month 3 were due December 1! If you haven’t done so already, please be sure to get your payment to us this week.
If you've donated some of your boxes to the Caring Kitchen this year and would like tax receipts, please let Donna know by the end of December. 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. We and the Caring Kitchen and their customers thank you for doing that!
HOLIDAY SCHEDULES: The Monday A (and weekly) boxes that should be on Dec. 25 will be made on Tuesday, Dec. 26. The Tuesday A (and weekly) boxes that should be on Dec. 26 will be on Wednesday, Dec. 27. On the next week, the Monday B (and weekly) boxes that should be on Jan. 1 will be made on Tuesday, Jan. 2. The Tuesday B (and weekly) boxes that should be on Jan. 2 will be made on Wednesday, Jan. 3.
Got it??? Thursday and Friday boxes will not be changed either week.
As usual, if you need to skip a box, please let Donna know ASAP
If your box is delivered to a business or institution that will be closed during these weeks, please be sure to make another arrangement with us-skip your box or pick up at the farm during those weeks..
And the best news is that, after this, there will be no more changes in the regular schedules this season!
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.)
Beet Kvass – For information, check their website, www.culturful.com 1 week advance order please! 12 oz. bottles $3.50 3 liter (100 oz.) "pouches" $25
Locally grown Flowers : Caribbean Exotics, Delray Beach: long-stemmed Heliconia-large, impressive "ginger" flowers $20 plus tax (most stems are about 3' tall) These 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 farm.
McCoy's Honey-raw, unfiltered, locally produced http://www.mccoysfloridahoney.com/ 3 lb. plastic jug $14.00 each (orange blossom, palmetto, or wildflower) 8 oz. bee pollen $12 12 oz. honey bears (orange blossom only) $4.50 each
LeDuc "Flavor Pict" Honey (some hives are on our farm, some are in Loxahatchee) Honey 1 qt. glass jars $17
From Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee (Sorry-may not be available all days): 'Namwah' bananas -$1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4 (short, chubby bananas)
Microgreens, sandwich bag $3 (mix may contain radishes, arugula, purple kohlrabi, and/or red kale)
Baby greens 8 oz. bag $3 (may be short of some this week) 'Elegance'-a colorful, slightly spicy mix of mustards and some Asian greens 'Red Russian' kale 'Rokita' arugula-the kind that is usually in your box
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch or head) Collards Chard- green, white or red stems-or a mix Curly kale-only red/purple this week
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch basil NEW! chives cilantro dill NEW! garlic chives mint oregano rosemary sage "tarragon" thyme
Lemongrass $3 for 1/2 lb. (about 5 stalks)
Other vegetables from our farm: NEW! Romano beans: green or yellow or a mixed bag $3/lb. Cherry tomatoes-mostly just red ones $3/sandwich bag Eggplant: round ones or small skinny ones, or a mix $3/lb. Butternut squash $1.20/lb. Spaghetti squash $1.50/lb. (big ones or small "single serving" type Calabazas (Tropical pumpkins) $1.50/lb. (smaller this year: most about 5-6 lbs.)