Down on the farm: The websites of CSA farms up north often list many weeks of crops such as leafy greens, brassicas (cabbage family), and root crops. I imagine CSA members there must sometimes wish for more weeks with corn, tomatoes, eggplants, and squashes, just like some of us would like more of the cool season crops. Maybe this is the winter when we can have more of them. Some pretty beets are just starting to mature. Most of these are 'Chiogga', the "candy stripe" beet. Frankly, they rarely taste as good as regular red beets (We grow 'Detroit Dark Red' and 'Early Wonder'). That might be partly because of our climate. But, they are pretty and unique, so I usually grow some each year. By the way, the colors tend to fade when you cook them. As usual, the greens will be cut off unless you ask for them. (FYI: The red beets we grow are 'Detroit Dark Red' and 'Early Wonder'.)
At least 15 years ago many of us became "lettuce snobs". We learned that iceberg lettuce has fewer nutrients in it than the brighter colored lettuces, and we also decided that the leafy lettuces taste better. Basically, those beliefs are still true (not that any lettuce is a great source of nutrients-not surprisingly, it is mainly water with a little fiber.). However, it turns out that many people do like the taste of iceberg lettuce-some even prefer it. One reason I have been told is that it is crunchier than the leaf lettuces-lso true.
Yes, iceberg lettuce was mainly a result of breeding to create lettuces that would ship and store well. But it has now returned to the menus of some rather "high end" restaurants. And, last spring, when a lettuce breeder from California put in some variety trials here, he told me that iceberg types are often less susceptible to bolting in the heat than lettuces like Romaine or Bibb. Breeding for heat tolerance in lettuce (and many other crops) is important in the plant breeding programs of most universities and companies now. Hot weather is more of a problem than it used to be, even in northern areas where they are growing lettuces in the spring and summer. And, if you have been with us for a year or more, you know what a problem it has been here recently. Even the big lettuce growers over in The Glades, where it is cooler than our farm, have had to plow up acres of bolted lettuces in the last few years.
Definition: Bolting refers to a plant putting up a stem which will flower and produce seeds. Different plants bolt in response to different conditions. For lettuces, it is usually because they got too hot at some critical time(s) in their growth. That causes release of plant hormones which tell them it's time to flower and produce seed. Once they have started to do that, you can't really stop it. Even breaking off the flower stalk won't help. An additional problem with lettuces is they usually become bitter when bolting has been triggered, so we do our best to identify those and not sell them.
Speaking of the leaves we humans eat, I keep forgetting to remind you to check them when your box comes. A disadvantage of picking crops in the morning of day you get them is that they often have dew on them. The baby greens are washed and dried, so they should be OK. However, if we are sending spinach that is bigger than baby-size, we can't wash it because the dryer will break the leaves. (Usually when we are not washing it, we put it into non-ziploc bags.) Other greens, especially those you ordered as extras, may be wet. So, get them out and dry and refrigerate them or use them. That includes microgreens and herbs, especially those with succulent leaves like basil or cilantro. Microgreens are among the worst because the tiny leaves tend to stick together, and, if it stays in the bag for a day or two, it can become a smelly rotten mess.
We're still harvesting cauliflower and broccoli which came from plants with black rot. Since those heads are so small, we don't have the total pounds that we should be harvesting, so we sometimes have to substitute something else.
For those who want to know: yes, we are growing Brussels sprouts again. I expect to begin harvesting them in 3-4 weeks.
Since it is taking so long for the bell peppers to ripen to red, we are harvesting mostly green bell peppers. So, we'll try to include a few yellow/orange or red 'Lunchbox' peppers as often as possible. (Sorry, there not enough of them yet for extras.) Don't mistake these for hot peppers! We never put hot peppers in a box unless you ask for them.
We only grew a few onions this year. Our main problem with growing onions is that they don't compete well with weeds. It's difficult to justify the cost of spending hours hand weeding them, since most people don't mind buying them in the regular grocery store. It just makes more sense to concentrate on other crops that more people appreciate buying fresh.
What's in your box this week: cherry tomatoes tomatoes a cucumber?? bell peppers beets (without greens, unless you ask for them) cauliflower or broccoli or cabbage lettuce arugula (large boxes only) green onions (large boxes only)
A little housekeeping: If you paid for the whole season at the beginning, you are not used to getting a monthly invoice, unless you buy a lot of "extras" (We appreciate that!). But this month Donna sent them to those who owe us for a few extras, some of which had been purchased several months ago. Sometimes the invoices go into junk mail folders, so you may not realize we sent you one. So, if you are wondering why you received a reminder about paying an invoice from us, that may be the reason.
Enjoying your veggies: This week Donna and I had the pleasure of sampling some delicious new products from the makers of Culturful Beet Kvass. We are now carrying these new raw lacto-fermented veggies. The line includes; Beets, Carrots, Cauliflower and Cherry Tomatoes-which are from our farm. (See our extras list below for the individual product descriptions and prices.) They have provided us with this general information about these products: Fermented foods are nutritionally dense foods that have been preserved with naturally occurring lacto-bacillus bacteria. The process of fermentation happens when natural bacteria feed off of the sugars and starches in foods, converting them to lactic acid. This process creates beneficial bacteria, enzymes, vitamins and probiotics. The process of fermentation also breaks foods down into a more digestible form. Here are some benefits for your health when fermented foods are consumed on the regular basis.
AROUND OUR AREA: Our annual Subscriber Open House will be February 10th and 11th. This Open House is not open to the general public, but subscribers are invited to bring friends and 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.
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 an 11 AM or a 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!) 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. 10th or Sunday, Feb. 11th) 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 send those to you, also. As the time gets closer, I'll add more information about attending the tours.
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.) From Culturful.com Please order 1 week in advance order! Beet Kvass 12 oz. bottles $3.50 3 liter (100 oz.) "pouches" $25 Snappy Carrots 16 oz. Glass Jar $8 Made from Organic Carrots, Red Onions, Garlic, and Ginger. Their gingery, umami flavor will go well with your salads, sandwiches and wraps or as a tasty snack. Savory Beets 16 oz. Glass Jar $8 Made with Organic Beets, Red Onions, Garlic and spices. They have a tantalizing savory taste and beautiful color. Enjoy as you would any crunchy condiment and use the ruby colored juice as a vinaigrette for your favorite salad or have as a "gut shot". Zippy Tomatoes 16 oz. Glass Jar $8 Made with Green Cay Produce's own homegrown Cherry Tomatoes, Celery, Red Peppers, Garlic and Dill. They are garlicky and simply dill-icious!!! Eat straight from the jar or add some zip to your fresh vegetable juice, gazpacho or even a Bloody Mary. Turmeric Cauliflower 16 oz. Glass Jar $8 Made with Organic Cauliflower, Carrots, Celery, Red Peppers, Red Onions, Garlic and Turmeric. It has a beautiful golden color and taste that will complement any dish.
Locally grown Flowers : Probably none avaiable for a while now: Caribbean Exotics, Delray Beach: long-stemmed Heliconia-large, impressive "ginger" flowers $20 plus tax (most stems are about 3' tall) If it gets too cold in Delray Beach, these tropical flowers may not be available. 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 nursery.
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. (3 lb.) glass jars $17 2 lb. glass jars with comb $18 For honey connoisseurs: a limited amount of a specialty honey. This "mustard honey" was made when the bees were collecting nectar from wild mustards in The Glades. It is a light colored, very sweet honey. 1 qt. (3 lb.) glass jars $23 2 lb glass jars with comb $23
Extra tomatoes Tomatoes (round red ones) $2.50/lb. Tomatoes, plum types $2.50/lb. Cherry tomatoes-red and yellow mix (or just one color) $3/sandwich bag 'Sauce' tomatoes-these are tomatoes which are small and/or have more flaws: cracks, bruises. If you buy them, plan to use them within a day or two. They are sold only in a 20 lb box for $15.
NEW! Sweet Peppers Green bell peppers
NEW! Hot peppers (sandwich bag with 4-5 peppers-mix or match. $3. NOTE: We don't have many of the "really hot" peppers.) Jalapenos Datil peppers-small yellow hot peppers (https://www.slowfoodusa.org/ark-item/datil-pepper) REALLY HOT peppers: chocolate (color, not flavor!) Bhut Jolokia; red 'scorpion'; yellow 'Scotch bonnet' Microgreens, sandwich bag $3 (mix may contain radishes, arugula, purple kohlrabi, red pak choi, broccoli, and/or red kale)
Baby greens 8 oz. bag $3 'Elegance'-a colorful, slightly spicy mix of mustards and some Asian greens 'Red Russian' kale 'Tuscan' kale (also called Lacinato or alligator kale) Arugula NEW! Spinach
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch or head) Temporarily out: Collards Chard- green or red stems-or a mix Curly kale-green Tuscan kale
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch basil ?? (there isn't too much around in these temperatures) chives cilantro dill garlic chives mint specialty mints: peppermint, orange mint oregano rosemary sage "tarragon" thyme
Lemongrass $3 for 1/2 lb. (about 5 stalks)
Other vegetables from our farm: Fennel bulbs $3/lb. (1-2 bulbs/lb.)-tell us if you want the tall fernlike leaves left on Eggplant: round ones or small skinny ones, or a mix $3/lb. Watermelon radishes 3 for $2 NEW! Green onions, bag of about 6 $2