This is the LAST week of boxes for those in the A biweekly group. For everyone else, next week is the last week.
Down on the farm: Summer temperatures are certainly arriving, but so far we have continued to be lucky as far as rain. With all these melons ripening, we wouldn't have enough space in the refrigerators for everything we would have to harvest to protect it from rain. Several subscribers have mentioned the amounts and diversity of produce in the boxes recently. Of course, we are always pleased to receive positive comments, but just remember that we can only do so much- the rest is up to the weather. I'm pleasantly surprised that we have been able to keep the baby greens this long. While the big kales are just about taken over by whiteflies, we can still use the baby ones.
Two weeks ago I mentioned that the honeydew melons have done the best for us here. So that's what will be in the boxes this week. Both have orange flesh- 'Honey yellow' has a yellow rind and 'Honey orange' has a white rind. (Don't ask me why they are named that way.) The flesh of honeydew melons is generally more crisp than cantaloupes, so sometimes people think they are not ripe. I think you will know by the flavor of these whether or not they are ripe.
Recently, there have been several highly publicized food safety cases involving cantaloupes. In the past, many of us thought that, since we were not going to eat the rind or peel of a fruit, we didn't have to wash the fruit. But the knife you use to cut the fruit can carry whatever is on the outside rind right into the fruit flesh that you are going to eat.
Netted melons, such as cantaloupes, have more potential for transmission of pathogens than smooth melons, such as honeydews. That's because it is easier to wash/sanitize smooth melons. An additional problem is that many bacteria can form a "biofilm", a slime which covers and protects the bacteria. On netted melons, that biofilm has been found to protect bacteria in those tiny crevices on the melon rind so well that the normal washing and sanitation methods traditionally used in packing houses do not get into those crevices enough to kill the bacteria. In fact, with our international food distribution system, that issue has become so important that plant breeders are actually working to breed cantaloupe varieties with smooth rinds, like honeydews, so that they can be sanitized more dependably.
Melons should be kept in a refrigerator, both before and after cutting. Wash the rind of a melon well just before cutting-don't use soap, but one of the hydrogen peroxide based produce washes is helpful. A brush can also help to clean biofilms off netted melons.
This information comes from a very complete article about how to avoid bacterial problems with melons: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/08/cantaloupe-food-safety-101/#.VzdvnfkrLX4 Spaghetti squash is another one of those other large cucurbits. We grew it when we first started farming here, and then I quit for a while because it seemed that no one wanted them. The last few years I have started to grow some of it again, but not a lot of extra especially in the spring, since it doesn't store as well as the other winter squashes during the summer heat and humidity. Let me know if it is something you would like to have in the boxes more often. The small ones in the boxes are 'Small Wonder' and the other is 'Primavera'.
We may not have enough summer squash this week-most of the yellow squash plants in the most recent crop were infected with viruses before we even were able to harvest anything from them. So the yellow squash that we do have this week comes from Perez Farm in Loxahatchee. The zucchini is starting to get the viruses, too. We did plant a new crop of both squashes farther away from other squash crops-so we'll see if I can keep off the aphids and whiteflies long enough to get some production for the next few weeks.
I am aware that many of our peppers-both sweet and hot ones-have weevils in them. But, I find I can still use the peppers, since the weevil larvae are usually confined to one area of the pepper fruit which can generally be cut out. Controlling them requires frequent sprays of several different pesticides. So, since the season is winding down, I have chosen only to spray the 'Surround' clay to try to minimize the numbers of weevils which decide to raise their families in our peppers.
Oddly enough, there are some decent looking beets still in the field-in fact, they are bigger than most of our beets have been this season. I haven't tried any yet. In this weather, they may not be too sweet, but those of us who like beets will figure out ways to use them anyway. If you've signed up for our summer program, payments are due this week. Donna will be contacting those who haven't paid to see if you still want to participate. Those who have joined it will receive an email from me on May 28 or 29 telling you what will be available on May 31 and June 3.
What's in your box: tomatoes cherry tomatoes cucumbers eggplant a pepper or two-mostly red yellow or zucchini squash ?? spaghetti squash arugula beets?? green beans or cabbage (large boxes only) honey dew melon (2 in large boxes) baby Vates kale (large boxes only)
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 aren't due until Sept.) If you owe us for "extras", Donna will send you an invoice after your final box. If you have a credit on your account, she will ask if you want to "roll it over" to next season, or we'll be glad to send you a refund-just let her know.
Knowing how many subscribers we will have helps me to plan how much I need to grow for subscriptions and also lets us know how many new subscribers we can take when we open the applications in August. As many of you know, the number of subscribers we have had for the last 3 years has been about 3/4 of what we used to have. Most other south Florida CSA farms are having similar experiences. Most of us think that consumers just have more choices of places to buy produce-some local, sometimes organic, such as on-line buying clubs. However, as recent articles in the Tampa Bay Times showed, you can't always trust what you are buying at "Farmers' markets" or in restaurants. http://www.tampabay.com/projects/2016/food/farm-to-fable/restaurants/http://www.tampabay.com/projects/2016/food/farm-to-fable/farmers-markets/
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 (most are at least 3') Heliconia-large, impressive "ginger" flowers $15
McCoy's Honey-raw, unfiltered, locally produced http://www.mccoysfloridahoney.com/ 1 lb. glass jar $5.00 each (wildflower, palmetto, or orange blossom) 3 lb. plastic jug $14.00 each (wildflower or palmetto) 8 oz. bee pollen $12
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch NEW! Dandelion greens (one of the bitter greens!) Basil dill apple mint mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) oregano parsley (probably last week) rosemary sage tarragon thyme
Baby Greens $2.50/bag NEW! Vates "blue" kale 8 oz. bag Baby arugula 8 oz. bag Mustard greens 8 oz. bag Microgreens, sandwich bag (mix may contain radishes, arugula, kale, and/or purple kohlrabi leaves) Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch) curly red kale??? NEW! Swiss chard-young leaves, white, red, or mix NEW! Collard greens-leaves are still small
Other Veggies and fruit from our farm NEW!Honeydew melons-yellow or white rind $3 each NEW! 'Sun Jewel' Asian/Korean melon $2 each (oblong, yellow rind and crispy white flesh) NEW!Cabbage $.50/lb. (most are small heads, so order by the pound) Okra $3/lb. (limit 1 lb/order, until we have more) Pineapple tomatillos -tiny yellow tomatillos with a sweet, fruit flavor. "snack" size bag $2.00 Remove the papery husk before eating! Add them to salads. Tomatoes: most are 'Skyway' (red slicers) $2/lb. Green tomatoes $2/lb. Sauce tomatoes -about 20 lbs. of tomatoes that are smaller or have more cracks or other blemishes than the other tomatoes we sell. This week many will be large tomatoes that have sunburned areas. These are available at this price ONLY by the full half bushel box-not in smaller quantities. $15 Cherry tomatoes, only red ones $3/ sandwich bag Eggplants $2.00/lb. You may choose varieties, or we can put in whatever is available. This week we have Charming, Dancer, Nubia, Calliope, Rosa Bianca, and Beatrice. For pictures and descriptions of these varieties, go to: http://www.johnnyseeds.com/assets/information/eggplant-varieties-comparison-chart.pdf Tomatillos -these are large ones-it only takes 7-8 to make a pound $3/lb. Green chiles (long New Mexico type) $4/lb. Jalapenos $.50 each or $3/lb.