Down on the farm: Pretty good growing weather after we got through that rain last weekend… The best news of the week is that we expect to have a little bag of cherry tomatoes and a watermelon in every box this week. So this is another one of those weeks that puts the pressure on our delivery people. Even though these are "personal size" watermelons, they are still the heaviest crop we grow. This seedless variety, 'Extazy', comes from an Israeli seed company, and has always done well for us.
The question of how they get seeds for seedless watermelons is a common one that is worth answering every year. One of the parents for the hybrid seedless watermelon is treated with a chemical called colchicine (also used to treat gout.) That causes the chromosome number to double from the usual diploid (2) to a tetraploid (4 ). When that diploid plant is crossed with the tetraploid parent plant the resulting offspring has a chromosome number of 3. (a triploid). So the seed that is produced from that cross produces a seed that is sterile-and does not develop inside the fruit. (somewhat similar to the reason why a mule is sterile). Please note: this is a type of hybridization, a crop improvement method that has been used at least since Gregor Mendel's time, and probably, in a less formal way, much earlier than that. This is NOT Genetic Engineering.
To me, the oddest part of the production of seedless watermelons is, in order to produce seedless watermelon fruit, there must be pollination. (Usually pollination results in seeds.) When seedless watermelons first were produced, growers would just plant a few regular watermelon plants in the fields with their seedless plants to produce the pollen needed. Then the breeders came up with pollenizer varieties, which produce flowers with pollen, but no fruit (or at least very few fruit-which are not worth eating). The newer ones have tiny narrow leaves so they don't compete much with the crop for space, nutrients, and water. Of course, all this fancy seed and the breeding and production methods cost a lot more than old fashioned southern watermelon production. I call that the "plow and throw" method-plow up a field and throw out some seed, and, if it is warm enough and not too wet, you had a good chance of harvesting some melons in 3-4 months.
Since sage is often associated with fall foods such as turkey and winter squashes, we try to include a bunch of sage in all the boxes before Thanksgiving. This sage comes from Pontano Farms, since we don't have space to grow that much of any herb. This Friday will be the last box that the Friday B subscribers will receive before the holiday, so we plan to include it for that group. Others will begin getting the sage in their boxes next week. It's an interesting challenge to get it into all the boxes on the right days, but we know that Donna is up to it!
There are a few more "mystery squashes" in the field this season-these are larger winter squashes that showed up in the middle of our Seminole pumpkins. They are simply a result of the seed producers having other kinds of squashes growing near their pumpkin seed field. Some of them cross accidentally. There are more of those kinds of surprises in seeds for heirloom vegetables, because they are often produced without the strict quality control that is used by the companies who produce other commercial seeds. These are shaped like a large butternut. Most are 4-6 lbs., but they are half the price per pound of our other winter squashes. (We only have about a half dozen of them.) Most will have orange flesh, similar to a butternut. And we'll continue our winter squash marathon (pumpkins and butternuts-and maybe some spaghetti squashes) for a few more weeks. By then we should have other crops to put in the boxes-tomatoes, peppers, and hopefully even cool season crops like broccoli, lettuce, and spinach.
What's in your box this week: summer squashes butternut squash few cucumbers arugula cherry tomatoes a watermelon sage for Friday B subscribers eggplant (large boxes only) kale (large boxes only) Seminole pumpkins (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies: Microgreens are usually available from our "extras" list. Some new subscribers may not be familiar with them. For the last 15-20 years, they have been popularized by "high end" restaurants. They are tiny seedlings, usually grown in a potting mix or on an absorbent paper or fabric. They differ from sprouts because sprouts are usually grown without any medium to add nutrients. And, with sprouts, you eat the whole plant, including the roots. Microgreens are cut off from the roots, so you eat the stem and the tiny leaves. The most common microgreens are in the cabbage/mustard family: radishes, broccoli, kale, arugula, and mustards. However, a lot of herbs and other greens can also be grown as microgreens: chards, basils, sorrel.
Some research has reported that they are slightly higher in nutrients than the mature plants, but, I don't think the amount you are usually served in a restaurant is going to add much nutrition to your diet. Now you can sometimes find them sold in grocery and health food stores. For a few years, we have sold the standard varieties to our subscribers in sandwich bags for $3. Traditionally, because of the cost, only a small bunch is generally used as a garnish. But, you can probably afford to add a handful of ours to your salad or top a soup, pasta, or a casserole with them, or put them on a sandwich, like sprouts. They are not washed here, as our baby greens are. So, wash them in a container of water big enough so that the "micros" can float around separately in case there is any particles of the potting soil mixed in with them. If you have a small lettuce spinner, you can dry them in that-or put them on a towel or vegetable drying mat. Keep them dry and covered in the refrigerator and they will generally last about a week (if you don't eat them all first!)
A little housekeeping: For your Thanksgiving planning: the only change during that holiday week will be that the regular Thursday boxes will be made on Wednesday-for pickup and deliveries. If you are going away and want to skip (or donate) your box that week (or any week), please email Donna with the date you want to skip.
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.)
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
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, 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) No collards right now due to damage from diamond back moths. Chard- green/white stems or red stems Curly kales- red/purple or green Tuscan kale-also called Lacinato or alligator kale
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch basil apple mint cilantro dill oregano rosemary "tarragon" thyme Lemongrass $3 for 1/2 lb. (about 5 stalks)
Other vegetables from our farm: Eggplant: round ones or small skinny ones, or a mix $3/lb. Butternut squash $1.50/lb. Spaghetti squash $1.50/lb. Seminole pumpkins $1.50/lb. Calabazas (Tropical pumpkins) $1.50/lb. (smaller this year: most about 5-8 lbs.) Mystery squashes $1.50/2 lb. Okra $3/lb. (probably only 2-3 more weeks this fall)