The last week of boxes for those who are in the A biweekly group is May 16-20. For the B group and weekly subscribers, the last week is May 23-27. Scroll down for information on our summer vegetable program.
Down on the farm: The only large greens we have now are some red mustards and some red curly kale, but it appears that we are back in the baby greens business-at least until the rains come, with their accompanying plant diseases. Why can we grow baby greens at times when it is difficult to grow larger greens-of the same varieties? Simply because the babies are cut in 3-5 weeks. They are not out there as long, so they don't have as much time to get insect, disease, and even weed problems. At this time of year, we are planting fewer seeds in the same area. It is less efficient to cut them when they are planted like that. But, theoretically, if the plants are more spread out, there is more air circulation between them and they can dry off faster after rain or dew, so they are less likely to get fungal and bacterial diseases.
We also need to start picking the cabbage. I've always used it to give us something from that nutritious plant family when it got too hot for our broccoli and cauliflower. They almost overlapped this year-and we still have the arugula and baby kale, too.
There will be a new crop of corn again soon-if I can get rid of the spider mites on it. (Spider mites like hot dry weather!) There is even another crop after that, which I thought would be for the summer program in June, but with these temperatures and sun, it may make it in May.
If you have a box coming on Thursday or Friday, or can pick up flowers here at the farm, you can still get locally grown flowers for Mother's Day by letting Donna know on Monday or Tuesday. The bouquets from Seed to Bloom have been so colorful lately. Laurie tells us the lisianthus-the beautiful pastel flowers that some think look like roses-have all died from a fungus disease. And snapdragons are pretty much gone in this heat. But they have different colored sunflowers and various bright amaranthus (amaranthi?)-and others to fill the bouquets. And Caribbean Exotics' large ginger flowers are adapted to our summer weather, so they have flowers available, too. If you see your delivery person, please say a special thank you to him or her at this time of year. I feel guilty for what we are doing to them now as we harvest all these heavy fruiting crops. Last week the boxes were pretty heavy, mainly because of the corn and larger amounts of tomatoes. This week we are adding cabbage and the next few weeks will get even worse. Donna also has a challenge-to get everything to fit into the boxes!
One reason is that we're about to start harvesting what I call the "large cucurbits" (as opposed to the summer squashes and cucumbers). Most of these make long vines and produce big fruit, such as butternut and spaghetti squashes-and melons.
Muskmelon is a general term for lots of different melons. Cantaloupes are muskmelons, but all muskmelons are not cantaloupes. There are many different muskmelons in the world: heirloom varieties, standard varieties, and some really wonderful tasting new ones. I've been hesitating to mention the muskmelons because, despite the beautiful crop we have out there now, it only takes 1 rainstorm to ruin them. (I'll go ahead and tell you about them and then you can go buy some good ones at the grocery stores when ours don't turn out well.)
Did you ever notice where cantaloupes are commonly grown in the U. S.? Arizona, California, eastern Colorado.....not south Florida! You rarely see a commercial planting of muskmelons here. Why? It rains too frequently and too much and most of us farm in a porous sandy soil-good for drainage, but not for muskmelon flavor. But, hope springs eternal (or maybe I consider it a challenge), so I keep trying-always testing some new ones.
This spring we are growing 'Honey Yellow' and 'Honey Orange' honeydews; 'Tastybites', a standard netted cantaloupe; 'Sun Jewel' Asian melon; and 'Sapomiel', a large oblong melon that has dark green spots on a medium green rind. It's sometimes called a Spanish melon. Those 2 varieties of honeydews have been the most dependable and best tasting muskmelons for us here. 'Sun Jewel' grows well here, too, but its crunchy texture and light flavor are not what most American consumers are looking for in a melon.
What generally happens with most of our spring plantings of muskmelons is that they grow well through March and April. The melons are often large and look perfect. But, inevitably, a week or two before harvest it will rain. If the melons don't crack, they may still look beautiful when we harvest them. But, although the taste may have a very strong muskmelon flavor, it is usually not sweet. And, most consumers expect melons to taste sweet, don't we?
Interestingly, watermelons do not have this problem. We can usually grow pretty good ones here, which is why there is generally a lot of watermelon production around the Immokalee area. (I'm sorry to say that ours may not make it in time for the boxes this spring-we had some problems getting them started this winter.)
What's in your box: tomatoes cherries and/or other small tomatoes cucumbers eggplant green beans?? squash cabbage arugula baby fennel (large boxes only) baby kale (large boxes only)
A LITTLE HOUSEKEEPING: For those picking up your boxes, this is the week when we will have to start using the additional cooler for extras that are ordered or substitutions that are made in your box. Please read the cooler signs as well as any notes that Donna puts on your box. And, if someone else is picking up your box, please ask them to do that, too.
A reminder: if you have been forgetting to return boxes and have a pile of them, this is a good time to give them to your delivery person or bring them by the farm. They can be dropped off at our little pickup tent at any time-it doesn't matter if it's a day that there are boxes there. We appreciate that most of you want to return them so that we can reuse them.
AROUND OUR AREA: OnMay 6th, at 10:45 AM in the Everglades Research and Education Conference Center, Dr. Rebekah E. Gibble will discuss the "Invasive exotic species at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge - Impact, control, and challenges to the habitat and trust resource management." Dr. Rebekah E. Gibble is the Senior Wildlife Biologist at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. This seminar is free and open to the public. The Everglades Research and Education Center is located at 3200 E Palm Beach Rd, Belle Glade, FL 33430.
OUR SUMMER MARKET PROGRAM: The summer program will be the same as it has been for the last 2 summers. There is a $20 fee to join-that payment is the membership fee for the whole 6 weeks of the program (2 in June, 4 in Sept.). 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. (Sorry-there is no delivery available during the summer program.) You pay for your purchases each time you come by putting a check or cash into the mailbox at the pickup tent.
Please understand that there will only be warm-season crops (and not all of them each week). That may include: summer squashes; greens such as arugula, baby kale, mustards, purslane, and Asian greens; cucumbers; winter squashes such as butternut and Seminole pumpkins; eggplants; okra; southern peas; melons; and corn. When tropical fruits are available from local growers, we sometimes include them (longans, lychees, or mangos), and we generally have honey from McCoy's and LeDuc's Apiaries.
Donna has already put up a more detailed explanation and the simple application on our website (www.veggies4u.com). Sometime before May 16, 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. (If you are writing a check, please write a separate check from one you may be writing for the regular season program.)
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! If you-or they- need directions to the farm, Donna will supply those to you. If you are going to join, mark on your calendar these dates when our little summer market will be open: Early season: Tuesday, May 31 Friday, June 3 Tuesday, June 7 Friday, June 10 September: Tuesday, Sept. 6 Friday, Sept. 9 Tuesday, Sept. 13 Friday, Sept. 16 Tuesday, Sept. 20 Friday, Sept. 23 Tuesday, Sept. 27 Friday, Sept. 30
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)
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch Basil cilantro (difficult to grow in hot weather, so availability is going down) dill apple mint mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) oregano parsley rosemary sage tarragon thyme
Baby Greens $2.50/bag Red Russian 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) 'Red Giant' mustard greens Curly red kale
Other Veggies and fruit from our farm Tomatoes: 'Amelia' and '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. These are available at this price ONLY by the full half bushel box-not in smaller quantities. $15 Cherry tomatoes and/or cocktail tomatoes $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 Summer squashes (from Perez Farm in Loxahatchee)-mix or match: zucchini, yellow $2.50/lb.