Down on the farm: Well, the local meteorologists were sure right when they said it was going to be cool and rainy today. On our weather station it looks like, after a low of 50, we'll have a high of 55. Not a day when our crops will be growing a lot. But, as long the sun comes out tomorrow, things should be fine here. Our watermelon seedlings spent the night and day in the office-looks like they may need to come in tomorrow night, too.
In the last two weeks, I have received 4 e-mails about late blight from the Extension Agent who covers south Florida vegetable crops. If you garden up north during the summer, you may remember hearing a lot about late blight in the summer of 2009-maybe you even lost your tomato or potato plants to it. (For non gardeners: have you ever heard of the Irish potato famine? That was caused by late blight.) The 2009 outbreak was traced to transplants from one large transplant grower which were sold at many "big box stores" from Maine to new York. Then, being a pathogen that can spread by wind, the disease spread to other farms and gardens who had not purchased those plants.
At that time, I was rather surprised that it caused such a panic there-after all, we have that disease in the tomato growing areas of south Florida every year. It's just a matter of whether it starts in December, January, or February. That's why we receive all the e-mails: as soon as the late blight pathogen is identified in our area, they let us all know we should begin to watch for it and prevent it in our fields (by using fungicides). The conditions that favor reproduction of this disease are: night temperatures around 55 ̊, days around 75 ̊; leaves which stay wet for a long time-from rain, dew, or humidity; and plants which are damaged by wind and "sand blasting". Sound like any place you know? It's not surprising we have it every winter.
Now the transplant growers are doing a better job of identifying infected transplants and destroying them before they are sent out. There are several fungicides which can control the disease. The best ones are preventive-they need to be on the plants before the spores land on the leaves. That means watching for the conditions that are conducive to development of the disease and spraying for it then. And, perhaps the best news is that, because late blight has become a more common problem in the northeast, plant breeders are now releasing more tomato varieties that have better resistance to the disease. There seem to be fewer potato varieties which have good resistance. I'll have to ask some of my plant breeder friends why that is. It usually means it is difficult to find genes in that species which can be bred into new varieties. Agriculture's best chance for handling diseases like this while still minimizing pesticide use, is the development of resistant varieties using new genetic engineering techniques.
Sorry to tell you that we will be out of eggplants for about two months now. Years ago, when we started making CSA boxes, my plan was to grow what grew best in each season. I didn't want our subscribers to get too tired of a crop. Because we have more warm months than cool ones, I try not to overuse warm season crops such as squashes and eggplants. Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and lettuces have relatively short seasons for us, so we try to grow them whenever we can and have grown eggplants in the fall and spring. Often the leftover fall eggplants were damaged by cold, so then I knew it was time to take them down. However, that cold hasn't happened in a few years, so we have stretched out the fall season. But, it was time to take these plants out: they were full of viruses and other diseases.
Now I am realizing that we need to plant an additional crop of eggplants later in the fall so we always have some for restaurants as well as for those subscribers who want them as extras even during the time when we are growing mainly cool season crops. It's too late to do that this season, but new plants were started in the greenhouse about two weeks ago, so we'll set them out as soon as possible.
Since those who get weekly boxes already received the thyme, oregano, and rosemary bunches last week, you'll get different herbs this week: parsley, tarragon, and mint. Since true tarragon is almost impossible to grow in our climate, the plant that is called tarragon here is actually Mexican mint marigold. It is native to Mexico and parts of the U.S. near the border. As well as having herbal uses, in the south is a dependable ornamental perennial plant with small yellow (edible) flowers all winter. The only thing I have ever seen kill it is too much water. It roots easily from cuttings so, if you would like to grow it, you can just use a piece that you receive in a herb bunch. Or, ask Donna or me at the Open House and we'll give you a couple cuttings.
A few new things: On the extras list, we now have some black sapote fruit from Yagnapurush Farm. Our Daikon radishes should be ready in a week or two, and new crops of beets and turnips are growing-if we can keep the weeds out of them. The first Brussels sprouts are also a week or two away from being ready to harvest.
What's in your box this week: Salanova lettuce mix, probably with nasturtium flowers broccoli and/or cauliflower cherry tomatoes red peppers (not as many!) green onions mixed herb bunch tomatoes Seminole pumpkin radishes (round purple 'Bacchus' and oblong 'white icicle') kohlrabi or summer squash (large boxes only) spinach (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies: A couple years ago, some people were proclaiming kohlrabi to be "the new kale". That might have happened some places, but not among our customers! Several people have said its round shape with the leaf stems sticking out makes it look like a spaceship. The name kohlrabi is German for cabbage-turnip. I guess that's because it grows above ground like a cabbage, but looks like a turnip. Most people tend to use it raw-sliced for dipping or shredded for a slaw.
Around our area: (A little new information at the bottom.) Our annual Subscriber Open House will be 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!) 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.)
NEW INFORMATION: 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. In case of rain at your tour time, you may choose to come to a different tour. 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 more)
From Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee: 'Namwah' bananas -short and slightly chubby $1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4 NEW!Black sapote (chocolate pudding fruit) $4/lb. (most fruits weigh 1/2-3/4 lb.) Squashes Seminole pumpkins $1.50/lb. (most sizes from 1-2+ lbs.) Spaghetti squashes $1/lb. (just a few left) Larger "mystery" winter squashes 50¢/lb. Squash blossoms 6 for $2.50
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 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 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 NEW!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. These only weigh about 1-1.5 lbs. now. 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) Radishes -bag of 6 $1 (mixed white and purple)