Down on the farm: OK-let's face the reality: Our subscribers are not normal-at least when it comes to their eating habits. After all, what can you say about people (at our Open House) who were so excited about the Brussels sprouts that many chose to walk several hundred feet extra to pay a personal visit to those tiny cabbages?
And now another exciting milestone is coming up this week-endive and escarole are ready. These two are actually chicories, most of which have a bitter taste to most of us. (See what I mean? What kind of silly people look forward to paying extra money to eat BITTER greens!) Some heads of both have reached harvest size-the endive is a little farther along. But, knowing south Florida weather as we all do, I am afraid to let either of them go another week. If the weather gets very warm-and especially if there is rain or even just humidity-some tiny, but vicious, plant pathogens will decide that they want to eat these leaves more than we do, and the crops will soon be gone. So far there is just a little tip burn on the leaf edges of some escarole, but it appears to be the kind that's caused by getting a little dry, rather than by a pathogen. (And by the way-we here at the farm are all so thankful that you weird vegetable connoisseurs found us!)
An interesting fact: half our list this week is crops from the mustard family: broccoli and cauliflower, bok choy, radishes, turnips, and arugula. They can also be called brassicas, cole crops, crucifers, or the cabbage family. Like many vegetables, they contain vitamin C, minerals such as potassium and magnesium, and fiber. However, what makes this plant family unique are the amounts of sulfur containing compounds in them: isothiocyanates and indoles. There is some evidence that these chemicals can kill some cancer cells.
But, guess what? In various concentrations, they can kill a lot of living things. So, they can be used in a process called biofumigation. For vegetable growers this means, instead of buying a soil fumigant that is produced in a chemical manufacturing plant, we can harness and concentrate natural soil processes and chemicals to help them kill plant pathogens, nematodes, and/or weed seeds in the soil.
This is also an example of why it can be difficult to define terms such as organic and natural farming, and to decide what is allowed under organic rules. Remember the old adage: "The dose makes the poison"? An explanation on the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences website notes that "At low concentrations ITCs (isothiocyanates) are considered beneficial to human health. At high concentrations ITCs are general biocides that behave much like commercial pesticides." http://web.cals.uidaho.edu/soilbiochem/category/biofumigation-projects/ Should organic growers be allowed to use ITCs as soil fumigants? Generally in instances such as this, it depends on the source of the chemical and how much it has been processed. Several companies are processing mustard plants or seed meal into pellets or granules for growers to use as a soil biofumigant. Some companies find that they can receive approval from the Organic Materials Review Institute by applying for that approval as fertilizers. We have tested one of these products. It acted as a good fertilizer, but I don't think we used enough of it for biofumigation. One major problem is that it is extremely expensive to use it in the amounts that are necessary to obtain soil fumigant effects. Also, it may be that many organic growers would not be able to use those materials at that high a rate, because it may result in applying too high a rate of nitrogen. Baby bok choy is one of those crops that is generally fairly easy to grow (until the aphids decide to get into it), but the harvesting and packaging take a lot of time. That's the main reason we don't grow it more frequently. There are several different varieties in our fields now-including a purple one-which is called red choy.
Even though it has been weeks since that windy and rainy weather, all of us who farm are still seeing its effects. Some very large banana plants at Yagnapurush Farms blew over, so their normal winter production slow down is lasting longer than usual. And, at a time when they are usually in beautiful full production, Seed to Bloom's flowers are still doing odd things-some are too short or too small or not blooming when they should. We all appreciate that you help to support all of us small growers-and we hope to have their products back in good supplies soon.
What's in your box: Salanova salad mix cherry tomatoes pepper(s) tomatoes broccoli or cauliflower spinach baby bok choy radishes turnips (large boxes only) arugula (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies: There are many recipes on the internet for escarole and endive. However, a lot of the endive recipes are actually referring to Belgian endive. So, it is usually best to search for this kind of endive as curly endive or frisée. I started grilling escarole last year-it looks awful, but tastes great!
And another fun thing we have this week that you might want to try: celery microgreens. We're going to sell it in the smaller snack bags. Why is it more expensive than the our other microgreens? Mainly because it takes 4-5 times as long to grow as the others. We've also had to fertilize it in order to get it to this size. Right now, it tastes very good-I thought it would be more bitter than it is. (Sadly, that may change when the weather gets warmer.) While you're not going to be stuffing it with cream cheese or peanut butter, it could be used in many other places you would use celery: in salads, or as a last minute garnish on soups, pasta dishes, or omelets. (It's very delicate-there wouldn't be much left if you tried cooking it.)
A little housekeeping: For those who pick up your boxes here at the farm: Although all the boxes for each day are all made at the same time in the morning, we have 3 pickup time periods. The early or morning boxes are put out by 10 AM (often earlier, but not always-especially on Mondays, when we often have more picking to do). The boxes for later pickup go into the cooler until it's time for them to go out. Right after the crew finishes lunch, about 12:40, they put out the "Late" boxes. Last year we were thinking about what to do for subscribers who pick up their boxes after work-as late as 6 or 6:30. That meant the box was sitting out for almost 6 hours-too long on most south Florida days. We decided to create another group- the "Sunset" group, which goes out about 3:15. If you think you would like to change to a different group, please send Donna an e-mail and let her know. (If once in a while you realize you are going to get here earlier than usual, just call and we will put your box out earlier that day.)
Weekly 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.)
Flowers require earlier orders since we have to order them from other farms. For more information, please check the "Weekly Extras" section on the subscriber pages of our website.
Locally grown Flowers (for 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 $10.00 each (Sorry-not available for Monday boxes.) Caribbean Exotics, Delray Beach: long- stemmed Heliconia-large, impressive "ginger" flowers $15
We are expecting some later in the week: Namwah bananas from Yagnapurush Farm in Loxahatchee. 1 lb. $1.50 3 lbs. $4
McCoy's Honey-raw, unfiltered, locally produced http://www.mccoysfloridahoney.com/(We're running low on orange blossom honeys.) 1 lb. glass jar $5.00 each (wildflower, palmetto, or orange blossom) 3 lb. plastic jug $14.00 each (wildflower or palmetto) 1 lb. glass jar Orange blossom honey with comb included $6.50
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch Basil (should be available this week cilantro dill mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) oregano parsley rosemary sage tarragon thyme
Baby Greens $2.50/bag Arugula Salanova salad mix 8 oz. bag Red Russian kale 8 oz. bag Mustard greens 8 oz. bag Spinach 8 oz. bag (not really baby size, but I wanted it on the $2.50 list) Microgreens, sandwich bag (mix may contain radishes, arugula, kale, and/or purple kohlrabi leaves) NEW! Celery microgreens, snack size bag
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch or head) NEW! Curly endive (frisée) NEW! Escarole Curly green and/or red kale Swiss chard and collard greens are available again-leaves are small, though.
Other Veggies and fruit from our farm Brussels sprouts on the stalk $1/lb.-most stalks are 2-3 lbs. and may have 12-15 sprouts 'Amelia' tomatoes (red slicers) $2/lb. Fennel bulbs $3/lb. (probably 2-3 more weeks) Tomatillos $4/lb. (Last week for now.) Green tomatoes $1.50/lb. Papayas $1.50/lb. (most weigh 2-3 lbs.) choose green or yellow/almost yellow Summer squashes-zucchini, yellow, or 'Ishtar' light green cousa/Middle Eastern type $2.50/lb. Hot peppers: mix or match; sandwich bag of 4-5 peppers $3 Jalapenos-green Datil pepper- little yellow peppers indigenous to the St. Augustine area http://augustine.com/article/what-heck-datil-pepper