Down on the farm: This weather sure gives us beautiful mornings. When we're starting to pack your boxes, we all sometimes have to stop and look at a beautiful sunrise. Some people say they don't like living here because there are no seasons. Those who say that either don't go outside much or they just aren't very observant-the birds and other animals and the plants sure have seasons here. Donna and I were recently discussing how weed seeds just stay dormant in the soil for months-or even years-but then they know when to grow so that they'll have the best chance to successfully reproduce and complete their particular life cycle. If you take care of any type of a garden or landscape, you can tell what season it is by which weeds you have to pull out!
So, now we're going into February, when the crops that had just barely been growing for a couple months grow noticeably faster. Sometimes we barely keep up with the harvesting. Turnips are especially pretty right now: both 'Scarlet Queen' and white 'Hakurei', so we'll try to get them in your boxes before they get too big. Some people are surprised to find out that chefs in many of our best local restaurants use a lot of baby turnips, too.
As I've said before, broccoli was always one of the 3 most popular veggies (also corn and tomatoes) on our subscriber surveys, so I try to grow it whenever weather allows. So, I'm sorry that we ran out of it last week and had to substitute squash in the small boxes. Don't worry-there will be lots more broccoli this season. We'll keep planting 500 plants a week at least until March. (After harvesting broccoli through May last spring, perhaps I am getting a little overconfident!) This week's temperatures should also warm up the soil enough for us to start seeding corn. The seeds of these popular supersweet corns are very picky about germinating in cold soil. This corn takes about 70 days-slightly fewer if it is warm and sunny-so it will be mid-April before we harvest it. (Right at Passover-again. Why do I always manage to have corn-and usually beans-on the week when some of you can't eat it! Donna will substitute in your boxes, of course, or you can refrigerate or freeze those vegetables until the next week. ) Well, I'm sure those celebrating Easter will be glad to have it for their holiday meal.
We'll try to include some "tomatoes on the vine" this week. They are 'Mountain Magic', a "cocktail" tomato variety that was bred by legendary tomato breeder Randy Gardner of North Carolina State University. He bred many tomato varieties especially for gardeners and small growers in the south. They taste good and have resistance to many of the diseases that are problems in the south. We were lucky enough to have him visit the farm with a group of North Carolina farmers almost 15 years ago. He told me something that I have always remembered: It's easier to produce good tasting tomatoes on an indeterminate plant than a determinate one. It's easy to see why: the sugars and other chemicals that are made in the leaves of plants give the flavor to the fruit. So, if there is a higher ratio of leaves to fruit, there will be more of those compounds that give us that flavor.
Indeterminate tomatoes are the tall plants-they just keep growing taller until something kills them. Determinate plants only get to a certain height (usually 3-4'). They are preferred by most commercial growers, because it's easier to stake and tie them and they usually produce more yield in a smaller area. If you have been, or are coming to, our farm tours, you will see both types. Almost all heirloom and cherry tomato varieties are indeterminate. But it's not impossible to produce good flavor on a determinate plant. When I find one, we keep growing it-especially if it has disease resistance. ('Amelia' is our favorite right now.)
What's in your box this week: Salanova lettuce mix, probably with nasturtium flowers cherry tomatoes peppers-not as much red as we have had green onions summer squash or broccoli/cauliflower tomatoes turnips (let us know if you want the greens left on) broccoli and/or cauliflower (large boxes only-maybe all later in week) spinach (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies: Some of those who get large boxes may be getting tired of spinach. It doesn't grow well in hot weather, so we're harvesting it while we still have it. Spinach is easy to freeze. Just wash it, blanch it for 2 minutes, drain well, and freeze in an approved freezer container. (small freezer bags are good for these small amounts). http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/greens.html You can use it in soups or other cooked dishes, or even in smoothies. If you're going to make something like quiche, where you don't want all that moisture, just squeeze the water out of the spinach. It's also easy to chop the dry spinach.
Around our area: Our annual Subscriber Open House will be this Saturday and Sunday, February 11th and 12th. This Open House is not open to the general public, but subscribers are invited to bring friends and/or family. Each of those days, there will be farm tours at 9AM, 11AM, and 1PM. Tours usually last about an hour, or slightly longer. We try to keep the tour groups to less than 50, which is why we ask for reservations. If you are bringing a big group, please send in your request soon to reserve spaces. (The 9AM tours are usually the least crowded.)
There is also a potluck lunch at noon each day. If you want to come share lunch with other subscribers, reserve your spots in either the 11 AM or the 1 PM tour, so you can eat after or before your tour. If you will be joining us for lunch, you don’t have to tell us what you’re going to contribute to the potluck-that's why it's called potluck! (But please do contribute-if you don't have time to make something, bring some good bread or a deli dish or dessert.) We just eat what everyone brings and always seem to end up with a good mix of main dishes, salads and other side dishes, breads, and desserts. (Sometimes it seems to be a little heavy on the desserts, but I haven't heard any complaints about that!) If you're coming to an 11:00 tour and are bringing something cold, we can refrigerate it-just bring it to the packinghouse and let Donna know. We supply the drinks, plates, and eating utensils.
The only requirement for that weekend is that you do reserve your spot in a tour group. Please e-mail your reservations to Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org . We need to know 3 things: 1. your name (not the names of everyone in the party-just the subscriber who is making the reservation); 2. the TOTAL number of people in your party (please count the children, too); 3. which DAY (Saturday Feb. 11th or Sunday, Feb. 12th) and the tour TIME (9, 11, or 1) you wish to attend. Donna will send you a confirmation within 2 days. If you don't receive that from her, please check with her again to be sure she got your reservation. And, if you need directions to the farm, she can email those to you, also. (Your GPS will get you close but it won't know where the true entrance to the farm is.)
A few tips for attending our Open House: All ages are invited. Everyone usually enjoys picking samples of cherry tomatoes, herbs, and/or carrots, depending on what is ready. (Please don't plan on stocking up to make sauce, though!)
The tour walk is less than a half mile, but the ground can be a little rough-not all strollers will work on it. We will have an electric golf cart available for those who may wish to come, but can’t make the walk. (If you would like to use that for someone in your party, please let Donna know when you are making your reservation.) And not everyone has to take the whole walk-you can drop out at any time and go back to your car or sit down in our greenhouse and have a drink. Please remember that this is a real working farm, not a theme park: everyone should wear clothes appropriate for the weather, and shoes that can get dirty, especially if there has been recent rain. If it's going to be raining at your tour time, you may choose to change to a different tour time (don't have to let us know, in this case). If we have to cancel anything, we'll put a message on our answering machine. So, if you are in doubt about whether to come, please call the farm office: 561-638-2755. 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 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, wildflower, or palmetto) 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?? chives cilantro dill mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) specialty mints: chocolate mint, apple mint, peppermint, pineapple mint,orange mint oregano parsley rosemary sage tarragon (True French tarragon is almost impossible to grow here. 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: 'Red Russian' and/or 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) Salanova salad mix Spinach-leaves are larger than most baby greens
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch) Swiss chard- red, white, or mixed Curly kale- green, red, or mixed Tuscan kale (also called Lacinato or alligator kale) Collard greens (short supply-may run out until they grow bigger) NEW! Beet greens -some have very tiny beets attached
From Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee: 'Namwah' bananas -short and slightly chubby $1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4 Black sapote ("chocolate pudding fruit") $4/lb. (most fruits weigh 1/2-3/4 lb.) Squashes Seminole pumpkins, and/or a few small butternut squashes $1.50/lb. Spaghetti squashes $1/lb. (just a few left) Larger "mystery" winter squashes 50¢/lb.
Tomatoes "Slicers"- mixed varieties $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 each.) Green tomatoes $2/lb. (for frying or pickling!) Heirloom tomatoes $3/lb. Mix or match (if the ones you want are available) 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', purple 'Cherokee purple'-smaller than the other 2 red/pink 'Pruden's purple' "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! Daikon radishes- 1/2 lb. $2; These are small Daikons, but they need to be thinned. Some of you might enjoy using these young tender radishes. 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 Hot peppers: Jalapenos; round red 'cherry bomb'; or yellow 'Datil' peppers mix or match 3 peppers for $2 Green or red chiles $4/lb. long New Mexico type-some are hot, some aren't Green onions -bunch of 12 $2.50 Kohlrabi $1.00/lb. 'Superschmelz'-first time we have tried this one. 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. Red? or green bell peppers $.50 each Papayas $1/lb. (green or ripening) (not very many yellow ones now) NEW! Baby Turnips: $3/lb. white 'Hakurei' or red 'Scarlet Queen' mix or match; choose with or without greens