ONE MORE TIME: LOST AND FOUND from our Open House: A pair of silver salad tongs, which were brought with a salad, is missing. Also, someone left a large, rectangular, white plastic container with a lid and some plastic serving utensils. If you know anything about either of these, please let Donna know so we can get them to their rightful owners. Thanks.
Down on the farm: On Saturday I got one of those calls that I REALLY hate to get: the baby red kale that we sent to a restaurant had little green "worms" in it. That means the diamond back moths laid eggs on the kale and, after we cut and washed it, they hatched out. Those diamond back moth larvae are continuing to make lace out of the leaves of many of our crucifer (cabbage family) crops. They will eat everything in that family, but they have their preferences: Tuscan kale seems to be a favorite. We are using all the low toxicity larvacides we can-sometimes even 2 at once, which I have never had to do before.
The leaves of crops in this family have that almost waxy finish, so water rolls right off. Despite that, we have always been able to get good control with the insecticides. Since so many of the crops we sell are the leaves of the plant, I am always hesitant to add anything that might cause marks on them. Over a month ago, when the Brussels sprouts and some kales were being eaten so much by the diamond backs, we did start to add a surfactant, which helps the insecticide penetrate the leaves better so that it is still there when the insects start feeding. But I used it only on the bigger kales, still fearing it might cause problems on the more delicate baby greens. But, these newer surfactants are much better than the old soaps and oils, which can cause leaf burns, especially in our climate. So now we are adding it to all our sprays. It is actually a practical and inexpensive way to make insecticides work better. In fact, we can use smaller amounts of some insecticides now.
As I mentioned last week, we are between tomato crops now. So the tomatoes that are left on the old plants are mostly small, and I don't expect to have cherry or heirloom tomatoes this week. (Sorry-I know the cherry tomatoes are a great snack food for many of you.) We will probably be sending you a lot of plum tomatoes, because they have been so productive this season.
Best news for many of you is that, beginning sometime this week, we will finally have some green beans (unless something attacks them, too!). This is our favorite variety: 'Maxibel'. It's actually a French filet type of bean. But, we usually let them get slightly bigger than what you would be served in an expensive restaurant. That's for a very practical reason: it is prohibitively expensive for us to pick the very thin French style beans by hand since it takes so many to make a pound. Unless you buy green beans from a small farm (or grow them yourself!), the green beans you buy are picked by machine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with harvesting that way. In fact, the machines make fresh green beans affordable for most people much of the year. They are the reason why you often see fresh green beans for less than $2/lb. The harvesters cost more than $60,000, so only a large farm which produces a lot of beans can afford to buy one-or more.
A bit of local agricultural history: Boynton and Delray used to be a big area for growing green beans-some of you live on old bean fields. Of course, our area still produces a lot of green beans: a 2016 agricultural statistics report said that 350 million servings of green beans are produced in the Everglades Agricultural Area. But the production, economic, and social situations are very different now. People who have been in agriculture here for many years talk of the busloads of workers who came in to pick beans during harvest season. Buses were parked along the roadsides as the workers waited for the dew to dry in the morning. (Wet beans do not store well, and picking from the plants when they are wet tends to spread crop diseases.) Sometimes they waited for hours-and didn't get paid for that time. Then they were usually paid in cash at the end of each day-no weekly paycheck or deductions for taxes or Social Security.
If you've ever tried to grow cilantro, you probably know that it bolts (goes to seed) very quickly in even these slightly warm temperatures. The shape of the leaves changes when it goes from a vegetative (growing leaves) to a reproductive stage (producing flowers and then seeds). I've even seen it grow a flower stalk as it emerges from the ground. Yes, the delicate white flowers are pretty-flavor isn't great, though-and, of course, the seed is a spice called coriander. But, when we want the leaves, it's a short season here in south Florida. Most of the winter we start it as transplants but, at this time of year, we switch to seeding it directly into the ground. That gives us a little better chance of getting some before it bolts, because it isn't sitting in the warm greenhouse for 3 weeks as transplants.
We pull it out when it bolts, but I have seen bunches of it for sale in grocery stores with flower stalks in it. So why do we care if it bolts? It does change the flavor-it's bitter and does not have as much of the characteristic cilantro flavor. There are some varieties which are supposed to be more resistant to bolting. One year I grew 5 varieties at the same time-and they all bolted within a couple days of each other. So the differences were not much.
As I told you at the Open House, Brussels sprouts need about 3 months of nice cool weather, which is why I didn't grow them for years. But, we found that many of you wanted the fresh ones enough to buy them even if they aren't as full and plump as they would be under better conditions. Remember that you are going to be getting a whole stalk so you will have to twist off the sprouts (easy to do).
What's in your box this week: Salanova lettuce mix, probably with nasturtium flowers a pepper or two?? green onions broccoli or cauliflower (probably 2 in large boxes) tomatoes beets (no greens unless you ask Donna to leave them on) eggplants or summer squashes green beans?? arugula (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies: This 'Santana' eggplant variety that we are buying from Perez Farm produces really large eggplants. Even though it is a newer variety, I was a little concerned that maybe the seeds were big or the eggplants were bitter. So I took home the biggest one I could find from those which they brought yesterday and sliced and grilled it-and ate almost the whole thing! (Charlie doesn't like eggplant.) Seeds were small and there was no hint of bitterness. These big ones are perfect for grilling-no matter which way you slice them, the slices are big enough so they don't fall through the grates. And they would be good for making an eggplant lasagna. I also saw a recipe for a grilled eggplant moussaka that I'm going to make-haven't had moussaka in years.
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.)
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 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
Seed to Bloom, Loxahatchee: colorful mixed bouquets-whatever is in season. $9.50 plus tax
Caribbean Exotics, Delray Beach: long- stemmed Heliconia-large, impressive "ginger" flowers $20 plus tax (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 or wildflower only) 1 gal. $53 (orange blossom or palmetto) 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?? celery (last week to get a bunch of this skinny celery.) chives cilantro dill lemon balm (It's like a lemon mint) mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) specialty mints: chocolate mint, apple mint, peppermint, orange mint oregano parsley rosemary sage tarragon (True French tarragon is almost impossible to grow here. This is 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: 'Red Russian' only 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 mustard greens) Salanova salad mix Spinach-leaves are larger than most baby greens (LAST WEEK!)
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch or head) Escarole, large head Endive, large head Swiss chard- red, white, or mixed Curly kale- green, red, or mixed Collard greens MAY HAVE A LITTLE: Tuscan kale (also called Lacinato or alligator kale)
From Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee: 'Namwah' bananas -short and slightly chubby $1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4 Squashes Seminole pumpkins, and/or a few small butternut squashes $1.50/lb. Spaghetti squashes $1/lb. (just a few left)
Tomatoes "Slicers"- small, mixed varieties $2.50/lb. Green tomatoes $2/lb. (small ones) "Sauce tomatoes" -about 20 lbs. of tomatoes that are overripe, 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: Brussels sprouts (on the stalk) $1/lb. NEW! Watermelon radishes -large radishes, red inside $3.00/lb. Daikon radishes- 1 lb. $3; (LAST WEEK) 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 Pansies box of 10 bright colored flowers, $3 (Bet you didn't know these were edible. They look pretty, but the flavor is not great. That's why they're usually covered with a sugar glaze and served with deserts.) Hot peppers: Jalapenos or yellow 'Datil' peppers mix or match 3 peppers for $2 Kohlrabi $1.00/lb. 'Superschmelz' The seed company (Bakers) says it doesn't get tough even when it weighs 10 lbs.-but ours are only about a pound or two. Tell us about how many pounds you want. (last week) Papayas $1/lb. (green or turning yellow)