Down on the farm: Over the years, one of the ways I have explained Community Supported Agriculture is to say that the members take the risk with the farmer. My illustration is: if everything freezes except the turnips, there might be only turnips in the boxes for a couple weeks. Don't panic! We certainly aren't even close to that right now. But, it shows how I think of turnips as being one of our most resilient crops. They're also on my list of "peasant crops", since they can be easily grown in many different environments, and are relatively easy to store until they are needed. (Interestingly, a lot of crops which are like that are members of that crucifer family.) But maybe I can't call them peasant crops anymore because we personally know that turnips are valued by some of the best chefs and served in their restaurants.
Most of the turnips that grocery stores carry are 'Purple Top White Globe' turnips, an old standard variety. When waxed, they can be stored for months-a system that has worked well for generations. It meant that turnips were almost always available. Now, though, stores which specialize in fresh produce sometimes have fresh turnips-even with the greens. Of course, the old fashioned turnip varieties are tougher than newer ones. (Sort of an agricultural pun: the plants are tough enough to stand up to a lot of conditions when they are growing, and the roots can also become fibrous and tough.) But most people prefer the newer ones: they can be crispy and light. This is the time of year when it seems like everything is growing in slow motion. The best part is that includes most of our insect and disease pests. In case your tomatoes have a little citrus flavor, it's because we are using a citric acid fungicide when temperatures are lower. (Just kidding about the flavor-you won't taste it because the citric acid is not very strong.) Few of the very "soft" pesticides (many of which are allowed in organic production) work well under the extremely high disease and insect "pressure" which we generally have here in south Florida. So, when we do get some of those lower temperatures, and some dry weather, I try to use those products. They include pesticides which are made from plants and biological pesticides, such as the BT I wrote about in the Dec. 12 newsletter.
If some of the tomatoes in your box are a different size, shape, or color, they are probably some of our "heirloom" varieties. We'll include them in with your other tomatoes as they are available, since they are noted for their deep tomato flavor. However, they don't "travel" well and are a magnet for every tomato disease we have here. The only reason we are able to grow them this season is that we are using grafted plants, thanks to years of research done by our friends at the USDA in Ft. Pierce in cooperation with scientists at North Carolina State University, the University of Arizona, and UF. The rootstocks they are growing on are resistant to the soil borne disease Fusarium as well as nematodes.
Like most older crop varieties, these old tomato varieties do best when grown with lower nutrient levels than we use on our modern varieties. They are growing on beds which had composts as part of the ASD experiments, so I stopped giving them additional fertilizer 2 months ago. Few people have asked for receipts for their donations of boxes to the Caring Kitchen. So, Donna suggested that I mention once more to let her know if you would like a receipt for your 2016 donations.
What's in your box this week: basil Salanova lettuce mix broccoli turnips or carrots (whatever is available); both in large boxes turnips: white 'Hakurei' and/or red 'Scarlet Queen' carrots: orange 'Imperator' and/or a 'Rainbow mix' cherry tomatoes peppers tomatoes a cucumber (large boxes, if any) baby kale (large boxes only) radishes (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies: Basil doesn't grow or store well in temperatures below 45 degrees. That means it turns black in a day or two at regular refrigerator temperatures. Most people find it keeps best if you treat it as a cut flower-make a new cut just a little bit above the place where it was cut off, and put it in water. Usually it will keep that way for at least 3 days. Or, make pesto out of all of it and freeze it. (Doesn't even have to be a complete pesto-just puree it in oil to use later for pesto or cooking.)
Don't turn-up your nose at turnips (not original-I've heard that before!) If you like the flavors of cabbage and broccoli, you can probably find a way to prepare turnips that you will like. Old standard methods include boiling or steaming and then mashing with butter, or roasting with meat or poultry. Try a turnip soup: I'm going to try one that I came across in Allrecipes that uses turnips and butternut squash, as well as some other winter veggies. And, especially with the crispy varieties such as the white 'Hakurei', slice them to use for salads or dipping.
A little housekeeping: We are taking "mid season applications" now, so, if you have friends and neighbors who would like to join our program, this will be their last chance for this season. They can sign up on our website, and call or email Donna if they have questions. And we really thank you for your recommendations. I don't have to tell you how difficult it is to be a CSA member, so you can explain it to other potential members better than anything we can say.
Payments for January boxes are due now. You may wonder why your bill is higher this month. That's because we have a 34 week season that covers 8 months. Since 34 doesn't divide evenly by 4 weeks, there are 2 months will have 5 weeks in them. We use the months that have 5 Mondays, which were October and January this season. You are probably aware that the sales tax for Palm Beach County has gone up beginning this month. The only things that we generally sell that are taxable are the flowers from Seed to Bloom and Caribbean Exotics. Seed to Bloom Flower prices are going to $9.50 plus the tax, which makes the total for a bouquet $10.17 (up from $10). Caribbean Exotics prices will stay the same, but just add 1% to the tax.
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. If you're bringing a large group, the 9 AM tours are the best times to come (unless you're planning to participate in the "pot luck" lunch). Watch for more details next week.
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 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
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) 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, orange 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: may have 'Red Russian', a bluish "Siberian' kale, and 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) Spinach-new crop of baby size leaves
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
From other farms: 'Namwah' bananas -short and slightly chubby (Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee) $1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4
Squashes Seminole pumpkins $1.50/lb. (most sizes from 1-2+ lbs.) Spaghetti squashes $1/lb. (probably last 2 weeks for these until late spring) Larger "mystery" winter squashes 50¢/lb. Squash blossoms 6 for $2.50
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 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 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! Broccoli $2.50/lb. 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 "Cucamelons"snack size bag $3 look like tiny watermelons, taste like a crunchy cucumber (also called Mexican gherkins) Eggplant $3/lb. Hot peppers: Jalapenos, round red 'cherry bomb', or yellow Datil peppers mix or match 3 for $2 Red chiles $4/lb. long New Mexico type ( red)-let's say "medium hot?" Red (may not be available) or green bell peppers $.75 each Papayas $1/lb. (green or ripening) (not very many yellow ones now) A few available: Pineapple tomatillos snack bag $3 sweet, fruity flavor (take off the husks!) Turnips- $3/lb. white 'Hakurei' and/or red 'Scarlet Queen', with or without leaves attached