Down on the farm: While some temperatures in south Florida did get to the freezing mark, the lowest on this farm was 37. The only visible damage was some burn on tender bean and squash leaves. If you come to the farm to pick up your box, you may have noticed that we did cover the youngest squash, which is only about 6" high. But we have learned that covering large squash or tomato plants often does more damage than not covering them-wind blowing the rowcover can break the plants. Of course, the best part is that we probably got at least several months worth of lower insect populations. It's better than any pesticide we could spray.
Best news is that it looks like we will have some cauliflower this week. Since these plants were planted in October, they were infected with black rot, so the heads are l small. And we are also very close to having some other kinds of lettuces.
Since almost everything grows more slowly in the cold, we do not have as many of some crops now. Cucumbers and squash do not like cool weather, so we will have fewer of them for a while. Corn is also a warm weather crop. We do have some "second picking" corn this week since it had matured before the cold. But this is the last corn we will harvest until at least late March.
OK-one more week of some general pesticide information. Pesticides are chemicals that kill pests. They can be naturally or synthetically produced chemicals. And pests can be insects, diseases, weeds, or animals which eat or destroy crops or make livestock sick.
Farmers and gardeners have used pesticides for many years: they found ways to use many chemicals which killed pests. Tobacco was commonly used to kill insects for generations, and later the nicotine was sold as a pesticide, despite its being highly toxic. In the 80s I worked in a greenhouse where it was sprayed weekly-and the owner called his plants organic. Of course, the big move to synthetic pesticides came after World War II, when there were a lot of chemical manufacturing plants that were not needed for the war effort anymore. So, some companies switched to making agricultural chemicals.
These chemicals, mainly organophosphates and carbamates, were dangerous to humans, and they sometimes killed everything in a field where they were applied: pest insects, beneficial insects, rabbit and birds, sometimes even workers. It took a long time for most people to realize the danger of those chemicals, and for chemical companies to admit that they were so toxic. Although some of the chronolgy of these events is disputed, Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring did help to make many people aware of what was happening and probably resulted in the formation of environmental groups, including the EPA. Now the majority of those older pesticides are off the market. In most cases, this is a good thing.
Of course, now we have many new pesticides. Mostly, these are not nearly as dangerous to non-target organisms as the older pesticides were. Some are actually naturally produced chemicals, such as Bacillus thuringiensis, which is actually a bacteria that kills only caterpillars. As I've mentioned before, the strobilurin fungicides are synthetic forms of a chemical that is produced by a wild mushroom to protect itself from other fungi. Those are just examples of the many choices we have now in pesticides.
Another safety improvement in the newer pesticides is that they do not last as long in the environment as most of the old ones did. When I was working in Texas, I attended a meeting where the HEB Grocery Company was presenting some results of random testing of the produce they were buying. Interestingly, almost all of the pesticides that were identified in the produce were old pesticides that were no longer on the market-some for over 10 years. Why? Those old pesticides persist in soils for many years. The newer ones generally break down quickly-within weeks or months. The timing can depend on conditions like temperatures, sunlight, and rainfall. Also, many of the new ones do not kill insects "on contact" as the older pesticides did-they must be eaten by the insects in order to be effective. Guess what all this means? Growers have to spray more often. All pesticides are now highly regulated. They are tested and put into groups based on their toxicity. Labels which come with each pesticide give the rules that must be followed when using it, including how long we must wait after application before harvesting the crop. And it is only legal to use chemicals that have been tested and labeled for use as pesticides. (Maybe you use dish soap on your garden or landscape? It is not legal for me or your landscape maintenance company to do that.) Users of pesticides also have to follow rules to protect their workers. If a "restricted use" pesticide is being used, the person in charge has to go through training and testing to obtain a license. And, as in many professions, that license must be kept up to date by attending classes or meetings to get "continuing education units". Is this system perfect? Of course not! No system run by human beings is-someone will always find a way to get around some rules. But, it does help to lower the chances of pesticides causing problems and does give us farmers some ideas of the possible problems that can be caused by the particular pesticides that we choose to use.
That is my quick, general explanation of the present situation with pesticides. If you have questions or comments, please email me and I will answer in a later newsletter. firstname.lastname@example.org
What's in your box this week: cherry tomatoes tomatoes a cucumber?? a little corn a bell pepper cauliflower or broccoli spinach arugula (large boxes only)
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 email@example.com . 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 firstname.lastname@example.org by 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.)
Beet Kvass – For information, check their website, www.culturful.com 1 week advance order please! 12 oz. bottles $3.50 3 liter (100 oz.) "pouches" $25
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 for a while. 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 'Cocktail' tomatoes $2/lb. (about golf ball size) Choose 'Red Racer' (red!) or 'Clementine' (orange) or a mix. '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.
From Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee (When available): 'Namwah' bananas -$1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4 (short, chubby bananas) Sorry-we are not able to get many of these right now. When we do receive them, we will fill "standing orders" first.
Microgreens, sandwich bag $3 (mix may contain radishes, arugula, purple kohlrabi, mustard greens, 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 NEW! 'Tuscan' kale (also called Lacinato or alligator kale) Arugula
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch or head) Temporarily out: Collards Chard- green, white or red stems-or a mix Curly kale-green or red/purple
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch basil ?? 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 fernlike leaves left on Eggplant: round ones or small skinny ones, or a mix $3/lb. watermelon radishes 3 for $2 Last of the fall crops of butternut or spaghetti squash $1.00/lb.
Farm contact information: Donna (Office) 561-638-2755 email@example.com Nancy firstname.lastname@example.org