Next week (May 16-20) is the LAST week of boxes for those in the A biweekly group. For the B group and weekly subscribers, the last week is May 23-27.
There's still time to sign up for our summer vegetable program-please scroll down for information. Down on the farm: I think I can safely say that no one appreciates this exceptionally pleasant weather and low humidity more than people who work outside-like our crew. We've been trying to take advantage of these cool mornings by doing the more challenging work as early as possible. And those of you who eat local produce are probably also happy about this spring weather and the bounty that we have now. In fact, we may have a dilemma for these last 3 weeks of the season: how are we going to fit everything into the small boxes? (Your dilemma might be how to eat it all, but we'll leave that up to you.) It will be OK for those who pick up their boxes, since your greens are in the cooler. If necessary, we can put other things in the coolers, so be sure to read the signs on them. Donna and I have been trying to think of alternatives for the boxes which are delivered. In the past, there have been times when we have left the boxes open, but that is a problem if the box has to sit somewhere to wait for you or be given to someone else to hold for you. Besides, some delivery vehicles are too full for that. Another alternative, when vehicle space allows, is to use large boxes for all. So, if you receive a bushel box instead of the usual half bushel, don't think we got your box mixed up-it will still have the right things in it.
Initially, I thought this box problem was going to be worse this week, because I expected the honeydew melons to be ready, but they will be better if we wait another week to harvest them. Next week there won't be beans or cabbage, so we'll have some additional space.
And the Florida Research Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Vero Beach called last week to say that their peaches are ready-but the crop is smaller this year. We should have enough for all the large boxes and some to sell for others who want them. They are small, but sweet. (Of course, I know that because I had to eat some of them that had bruises!)
Most people have heard about the devastating diseases plaguing the citrus industry. One result of the loss of citrus trees is that growers are looking for alternative crops, and peaches are one possibility. Plant breeders have developed low chill peaches, so, we are seeing the beginnings of a peach industry in parts of Florida. You may have seen a few Florida peaches in grocery stores as some of the first plantings have reached production age.
When you see the Environmental Working Group's "dirty dozen" list, peaches are always on it. Are peach growers just exceptionally mean farmers, out to poison everyone? We used to have a small commercial peach orchard in Texas, and I certainly didn't think of myself like that. But peaches have a lot of insect and disease problems. In most peach growing areas, the worst insect is the plum curculio, a weevil type insect which (like our pepper weevil) lays its eggs in the blossom or tiny peach so that the larvae will be inside the peach as it grows, completely ruining the crop. Only a few small production areas which don't have that pest can produce organic peaches, although the industry is working on new methods to control it.
Once you have tasted a fresh peach directly from an orchard, you rarely can find a decent peach in a grocery store. Although peaches will soften and get sweeter after harvest, they must be mature when picked for them to really taste good. It is difficult to handle and ship those mature fruit without damaging them, so there are a lot of losses, costing everyone in the chain from grower to consumer.
When I have looked down the rows of baby greens for the last 2 weeks, I have seen hundreds of cute little white butterflies flitting around the little greens. That's because they want to lay their cute little eggs so that their cute little larvae can eat our greens and grow up into more cute little butterflies. (I have tried to convince some of the butterflies that this is not a safe place for their babies to grow up, but they don't pay any attention to me.) You might have found a little cache of their tiny yellow eggs on the arugula or kale in your box. Of course, we try to take those leaves out, but sometimes we don't see them. Those eggs can hang on to a leaf even through the washing and drying processes. So, now our challenge is to keep those larvae which are hatching out from eating your greens before you get to eat them.
The main control we use for "lepidopterous" larvae (caterpillars) is called Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). That is the name of a soil-borne bacteria which produces a toxin that, when eaten by most larvae of that genus, causes them to get sick and die. It doesn't hurt anything else-not people or bees or animals. It has been used as an insecticide for at least 70 years. Most brands are approved for use by organic farmers. Like most pesticides that are allowed in organic farming, it doesn't last long in the environment. That means we have to spray more often-sometimes 3-4 times a week in warm, rainy weather. Yes, this is the BT that has been bred into corn, by using genetic engineering. As you know, we don't grow any GE varieties, but we do spray BT on our corn-a lot. There are other strains of BTs which are toxic to other insects, such as beetles and mosquitoes. Some are sold as biological insecticides.
What's in your box: tomatoes cherries and/or other small tomatoes cucumbers eggplant a pepper-mostly red green beans?? squash cabbage corn arugula Sun Jewel melon peaches (large boxes only) baby fennel (large boxes only) baby kale (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies (and fruits): Since not everyone reads the newsletter, Donna and I know that she will get calls from subscribers this week asking if that yellow oblong thing in the box is a spaghetti squash. It's a 'Sun Jewel' melon-also called Korean or Asian melons. They are crunchier and less sweet than other melons-they're great in an arugula salad-or in a fruit salad to contrast with sweeter fruit.
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. 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.) 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. 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) NEW! 8 oz. bee pollen $12
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 (probably last week) 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) Curly red kale???
Other Veggies and fruit from our farm NEW! okra $3/lb. (limit 1 lb/order, until we have more) NEW! 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. NEW! peaches $3/lb. (limit 2 lbs. per order, please) 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, probably 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. Summer squashes (from Perez Farm in Loxahatchee)-mix or match: yellow $2.50/lb.