This week all Thursday boxes will be made on Wednesday. For those who pick up their boxes, don't forget! AND: if you usually pick up your box in the afternoon, but maybe are off work this Wednesday, let Donna know if you want your box to be out there for you to pick up earlier than usual.
If you want to skip your box this week, please email (email@example.com) or call (561-638-2755) Donna ASAP! We hope you all have a relaxing holiday enjoyed with friends and family. One thing we are thankful for is that there are so many of you who are willing to support our farm!
Down on the farm: Nice weather to grow almost anything-at least on the days it doesn't rain. (When the rain is causing problems with the crops and interfering with getting work done, I have to remind myself that those little showers drifting in are the price I pay for the privilege of living so close to the ocean.) A few tomatoes are starting to ripen. If you've ever grown tomatoes, you may have noticed that the first tomato or two which ripens often has something wrong with it-a crack, a disease or insect damage lesion-something like that. That's because the stress caused to the fruit from an "injury" causes it to release ethylene, which results in the fruit ripening. It's the same thing as putting bananas into a bag with an apple or tomato, to get them to ripen faster from the ethylene released by the fruit. And our first lettuce is going into the field this week. That means we might be able to begin to cut some leaves from it in about 3 weeks.
Just when our newest crop of collards was looking good, a new generation of diamond back moths appears to have hatched out. These tiny caterpillars eat everything in the cabbage/mustard family, but seem to like collards best. For years, the only pesticides we used for caterpillars (the larvae of insects in the order lepidoptera) were forms of Bacillus thuringiensis. This is a biological pesticide-most brands are approved for use by organic growers. Like many organic pesticides, they need to be applied more often than most of the synthetic pesticides, so we often had to spray 2-3 times per week-but could usually control the caterpillars. Sometimes I would alternate with an insect growth regulator, another "soft" pesticide. That worked fine until the diamond back moths found us last spring. Their biochemistry and life cycle allows them to develop resistance to pesticides much more readily than other caterpillars, and they kept eating through the BT applications.
Our Extension agents told me was to use a "spreader-sticker" every time we sprayed. These chemicals reduce the surface tension so the BT or other pesticide can stick to the leaf more easily. Crops in the cabbage/mustard family have waxy leaves, on which water beads up, so those can be especially helpful on these crops. So we are combining those with some newer low-toxicity pesticides, as well as the BTs. There is also a beneficial insect: a tiny wasp which parasitizes the DBM larvae and kills them. I'm trying to protect those wasps because I have seen them on the plants where the diamondbacks are.
New supplies of honey are coming in early this week from both of the apiaries we buy from. By Tuesday we should have all the choices on our list. We will even have some of the little orange blossom "honey bears" from McCoy's. We've never carried them before because they are the most expensive as far as the amount of honey they contain. However, they are cute and inexpensive so I thought some might like them for gifts-or "stocking stuffers." And at least they are the "real deal" as far as being raw-and local-honey. (As opposed to some brands in the grocery stores which may contain honey from all over the world.)
What's in your box this week: summer squashes arugula cherry tomatoes corn butternut squash beets a tomato??? sage (for those who haven't received it yet) a bell pepper (large boxes only) a cucumber (large boxes only) kale (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies: By this week most of the beet greens aren't as pretty, so we'll cut them off. In other words, it will be just the opposite of last week: If you want us to leave the greens ON, please let Donna know. If so, we'll find you some that are decent looking. Otherwise, you will receive just the beet roots.
One of my favorite vegetables is closely related to beets: Swiss chard. Contrary to what some people on cooking shows think, it is not related to kale. It is good for us, too, although it contains some different healthful chemicals than kale does. And the best thing is that chard is relatively easy to grow in different environments. It will stand up to more heat than most greens-certainly a lot more than its more popular cousin, spinach. Sometimes it gets spots on the stalks-they are more obvious on the white or yellow stalks. That's why we grow more red chard.
If you're not familiar with using big greens like chard, it can be a little intimidating. Use a big bowl or pan of water to wash the leaves (although some people cut them up first so it's easier to swish them around). You can actually remove the leaf midrib if you want: fold the leaves in half at the midrib. Then cut along this rib so the leaf is off the stalk. Some throw away the stalk, but it's better to chop it and cook it first, since it needs a slightly longer cooking time than leaves. (I don't usually bother taking out that midrib. I just lay the washed and drained leaves flat in a pile. Chop the stalks first and then the leaves.) Sauté the chopped stalks with onions and whatever else you want to add. Put the leaves in a flat pile and cut crosswise. If I'm eating it by itself, I often add vinegar-balsamic is really good.
Of course, chard can be used in soups and bean dishes. I like it best in omelets and frittatas. Baby chard leaves are often in salad mixes to add color and flavor. Chard leaves also make a good wrap-if they break too easily, steam them for just a few seconds to soften them.
I like the red chard, but it does "bleed" while cooking. Most chefs prefer to use the white-stemmed varieties. Chef Manlee Sui of Angle restaurant at Eau Palm Beach Resort told me why chefs usually use white chard: Once a diner in a restaurant where she worked actually sent back his dinner because he was sure his steak was so rare there was blood coming from it. However, it was actually the juice from the red chard on his plate. (It doesn't really look like blood.)
EXTRAS: The best way to order extras is to email Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)
Beet Kvass – For information, check their website, www.culturful.com 1 week advance order please! 12 oz. bottles $3.50 3 liter (100 oz.) "pouches" $25
Locally grown Flowers : Caribbean Exotics, Delray Beach: long-stemmed Heliconia-large, impressive "ginger" flowers $20 plus tax (most stems are about 3' tall) These 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 farm.
McCoy's Honey-raw, unfiltered, locally produced http://www.mccoysfloridahoney.com/ 3 lb. plastic jug $14.00 each (orange blossom, palmetto, or wildflower) 8 oz. bee pollen $12 12 oz. honey bears (orange blossom only)
LeDuc "Flavor Pict" Honey (some hives are on our farm, some are in Loxahatchee) Honey 1 qt. glass jars $17
From Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee (Sorry-may not be available all days): 'Namwah' bananas -$1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4 (short, chubby bananas)
Microgreens, sandwich bag $3 (mix may contain radishes, arugula, purple kohlrabi, and/or red kale)
Baby greens 8 oz. bag $3 'Elegance'-a colorful, slightly spicy mix of mustards and some Asian greens 'Red Russian' kale 'Tuscan' kale 'Rokita' arugula-the kind that is usually in your box
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch or head) Collards?? Chard- green, white or red stems Curly kales- probably only red/purple this week Tuscan kale-also called Lacinato or alligator kale
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch apple mint basil cilantro dill mint oregano rosemary sage "tarragon" thyme
Lemongrass $3 for 1/2 lb. (about 5 stalks)
Other vegetables from our farm: NEW! Cherry tomatoes-mostly just red ones now $3/sandwich bag Eggplant: round ones or small skinny ones, or a mix $3/lb. Butternut squash $1.50/lb. Spaghetti squash $1.50/lb. Calabazas (Tropical pumpkins) $1.50/lb. (smaller this year: most about 5-6 lbs.) Okra $3/lb. (last week or two for this fall)