Can it be this time already? Yes, this is the last week of this season for those who get boxes only on "A" weeks. We hope you have enjoyed our vegetables and that you will sign up again next season.
Down on the farm: The corn and watermelons are very close to being ready. Hopefully we can surprise you with one or both of them. This watermelon variety, 'Extazy', is right at its predicted maturity date. It's one of the largest of the "personal size" seedless watermelons, so this will not be an easy two weeks for your delivery people-especially since there are winter squashes, too. At least most of the butternuts which are ripening first are the smaller varieties.
So far it looks like we will still have tomatoes this week and at least some of them next week. But you may find differences in quality-and flavor. This is mainly because of the plants being affected by diseases. I tend to cook them more now, and add other vegetables and seasonings.
Seed to Bloom is finishing up the last of their flowers this week, so they will not have any available for next week. They have really had an outstandingly beautiful harvest this season. Every week we were all so impressed with the bouquets they brought us-we just wanted to keep them instead of giving them to those of you who had already signed up for them.
People often ask why we don't grow some particular vegetable (or fruit). Fresh and local artichokes, asparagus, and rhubarb are some of the things we sacrifice by choosing to live in the beautiful south Florida winters. Here's why: Artichokes need a very long season of moderate weather-the Mediterranean climate that is present along coastal California. Some newer varieties have shorter seasons, and I have grown them here and in Texas. They're not impossible, but they take up a lot of space for a long time and still are not always dependable. They also produce smaller seed heads than most commercial varieties.
Like many of you, I grew up where there was a long-term asparagus patch in the family gardens. Asparagus needs a dormant period, which is caused by cold up north. It is possible to grow it in places like this where we don't have much cold, but that dormancy has to be induced artificially. Usually that is done by mowing it, letting it get very dry, or using herbicides to kill back the ferns at a time when they would naturally die back from frost in more appropriate climates. That isn't worth the work unless we could get a very high price for asparagus.
A note on asparagus: Charlie and I buy it a lot-especially because he likes it. Of course, most of the asparagus now comes from Peru. But a few weeks ago, I found some California asparagus in Publix, so I got it right away, even though it was a dollar a bunch more than asparagus from other countries. Charlie and I both noticed right away that it was more flavorful and more succulent than what we have been eating. We bought some again this week and again found it to be delicious. Were we "prejudiced"? Maybe, but I really didn't expect to taste a difference, and it was not subtle-it was really strong. Try it, if you get a chance.
Like asparagus, rhubarb is perennial, and needs the most cold of any of these. I wonder about plants where part of the plant is poisonous, but part is edible. Who figured that out-and how? I really enjoy rhubarb so, unless I happen to be up north early in the spring, I usually buy it frozen. Several days this week, as I left the farm, I could see some members of our crew and their families out in the field-picking their bean crops. It's a real "busman's holiday"; they work in the fields all week but, early in the spring they ask me if they can each use a 1000' bed (after we have taken out an earlier crop). They bring their bean seeds and their (very Americanized!) children, pull the weeds from the previous crop, and plant about 2400 bean seeds-one by one. Then, at this time of year, after working here 8-9 hours a day, they come back to harvest their beans in the evenings. What a nice family custom, which will certainly disappear in the next generation.
Their bright red bean seeds originally came from El Salvador, and they have saved the seeds each year. And now, despite having papers that have allowed them to travel back and forth, being allowed back in legally through immigration and customs for years, everyone who is not a citizen is afraid to leave the country this summer. So they will definitely be saving some of these bean seeds for next spring, and, more importantly, will not get to visit aging parents and other family members in El Salvador.
My first real agricultural job was in 1976 with a large greenhouse vegetable production operation in Tucson, where I remember Mexican workers hiding in the big walk-in coolers when there was an Immigration "raid". It is completely ridiculous that, in 40 years, we still have not been able to agree on a consistent, sensible system that allows people to come here and work legally and then go home to their countries.
What's in your box this week: tomatoes cherry tomatoes eggplant summer squashes watermelons?? OR cucamelons/tomatillos corn?? butternut squash lettuce a cucumber or two arugula (large boxes only) spaghetti squash (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies: I really wasn't going to include lettuce again this week because there were so many bitter heads. But, I'm going to try something else: Usually we try to pick our greens crops right before we send them to you. But, there is some evidence that bitterness in lettuce can be reduced by refrigerating the lettuce for a couple days. So we're going to try that picking it a day or two earlier and refrigerating it before you get it. If that doesn't help, try a dressing that is recommended for other bitter greens, and/or add some fruit to your salad. If you're overwhelmed with eggplants, don't forget about baba ghanoush and other eggplant dips. They can use up a large whole eggplant pretty quickly. This is also the time of year for one of my favorite salads: watermelon and arugula. Add some crumbly, flavorful cheese and maybe some crunchy seeds. For a dressing, just a light vinaigrette or a little citrus juice is good.
A little housekeeping: Since this is the last week for some of you, we want to remind all of you to please send Donna (firstname.lastname@example.org) an email to let her know whether or not you will be continuing next season. (This is just to hold your place-payments will be due in Sept. You will receive an email in August letting you know the exact date.) The new season will start on Oct. 2. Final statements will be emailed after you receive your last box. If there is anything due on your account, please pay promptly. If you have a credit on your account, Donna will ask if you want to "roll it over" to next season, or receive a refund-just let her know. And, if the empty boxes have been piling up at home, please give them to your delivery person or bring them by the farm. If you do bring them here, just leave them in the little tent where boxes are picked up-anytime.
Summer program: Last chance to join our summer program! The summer program will be the same as it has been for the last 3 summers. There is a $20 fee to join-that payment is the membership fee for the whole 6 weeks of the program. You'll receive the weekly list by e-mail on Sundays, and you can come to the little tent at the pickup site on the farm to buy what you want on Tuesdays and Fridays from 8:30 AM until 6:30 PM. Yes, you are welcome to come both days in the week, if you want. (Sorry-there is no delivery available during the summer program.) So, if you are going to join, mark on your calendar these dates when our little summer market will be open:
Early season: Tuesday, May 30 Friday, June 2 Tuesday, June 6 Friday, June 9 September: Tuesday, Sept. 5 Friday, Sept. 8 Tuesday, Sept. 12 Friday, Sept. 15 Tuesday, Sept. 19 Friday, Sept. 22 Tuesday, Sept. 26 Friday, Sept. 29
Please understand that there will ONLY be warm-season crops (not all of them each week). That may include: summer squashes; greens such as arugula, baby kale, mustards, and/or Asian greens; microgreens; cucumbers; winter squashes such as butternut and Seminole pumpkins; eggplants; okra; southern peas; melons; and corn. When tropical fruits are available locally, we try to include them (longans, lychees, or mangos), and we generally have honey from McCoy's and LeDuc's Apiaries.
Donna has put up the simple application and additional information on our website (www.veggies4u.com). Sometime before May 15, please send or bring your $20 payment. It can be put into the mailbox at the pickup site-just be sure to designate who it is from and what it is for. This program is not limited to our current subscribers so, if you have friends or neighbors who would like to sign up, we would be glad to have them. They can sign up on the website, too. If you-or they- need directions to the farm, Donna will supply those to you.
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 number of bouquets 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 Sorry-no more flowers after this Friday.
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/ 3 lb. plastic jug $14.00 each (orange blossom, palmetto, wildflower) 1 gal. (12 lbs.) $52 (orange blossom or palmetto) 8 oz. bee pollen $12
LeDuc "Flavor Pict" Honey (most from his Loxahatchee hives, although some are on our farm)
TEMPORARILY OUT: 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?? It bolts in warm weather so it won't be available much longer. dill lemon balm (It's like a lemon mint) mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) specialty mints: chocolate mint, apple mint, orange mint oregano parsley rosemary sage "tarragon" thyme
Lemongrass $3 for 1/2 lb. (about 5 stalks)
'Baby' Greens $3.00/bag (8 oz. bag) Arugula Red Russian kale Microgreens, sandwich bag (mix may contain radishes, arugula, red kale, and/or mustard greens)
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch or head) Swiss chard- red only
From Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee: 'Namwah' bananas -$1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4 short and slightly chubby
Tomatoes Red slicers $2.50/lb. Mixed cherry tomatoes sandwich bag $3 Green tomatoes $2/lb.
Other vegetables from our farm: Okra $4/lb. Eggplant $3/lb. NEW! Butternut squash $1.50/lb. Yellow squash or zucchini $2/lb. Jalapenos 3 for $2