Down on the farm: I'm sorry we had to switch to kale for everyone and arugula only for large boxes last week. There just wasn't enough decent arugula for all. That was more a result of the several days of rain before Matthew than of the storm itself. We try to seed all 3 baby greens twice a week, but can't seed it when the soil is too wet. Abelino has now seeded 2 crops of arugula since the storm, so hopefully by next week we can go back to arugula for all. (Yes, we are quite aware that it's more popular than kale!) By the way, if you appreciate spicy mustard greens, we almost always have the baby mustards available now too-ask Donna to put it on your likes list and she can easily substitute it for kale or arugula. And, for those who prefer milder greens, our first Salanova lettuces are up now. So we could begin to harvest those in 4-5 weeks.
Water is what makes south Florida what it is-whether it's the ocean, the Everglades, or water which falls from the sky or is in the ground. It's really the reason so many people want to live here: beside being something that we all must consume daily, it moderates our climate and gives us beautiful scenery-natural landscapes as well as the artificial ones we create. And, of course, those climate moderating effects, the easy availability of irrigation water, and the creation of muck soils by years of organic matter fermentation and decomposition have resulted in thousands of acres of highly productive agricultural land.
Even though we learn in school that farmers need rain, that isn't technically true. Obviously farmers need water to produce any agricultural product, so we need to have a dependable source for irrigation water. And, yes, those would eventually dry up if it didn't rain. But (as our experienced subscribers are aware) rain on the farm can often do more harm than good to our crops. The main reason is disease-many of our crop diseases are caused by fungal or bacterial organisms which grow best in either high humidity or with water on the leaves of plants, or standing water on the ground. Second, in a heavy rain, we can also have drainage problems, despite the good drainage systems that have been developed and constructed on farms here. And finally, these days when we have the constant on/off showers make it difficult to control any pests. There is often a shower while we are spraying or right after it. So, depending on the pesticides we are using, they may be all gone or be less effective-and we also lose the $50-$150 it cost to fill that sprayer, as well as a couple hours of labor and "wear and tear" on the equipment.
Sadly, the more "natural" pesticides-those that are often approved for use by organic farmers-are generally more vulnerable to being washed off. They are less likely to have residual effects or to become systemic in the plants. So, ironically, organic farmers often have to spray more often than those of us who are using pesticides which have some residual effects.
Rain can also interfere with other farm operations: seeding and harvesting can be difficult, and, when we do harvest, the moisture on the produce may cause it to rot in storage much faster. Producing flowers in 90 degrees and 90 % humidity is just as difficult as producing vegetables. In fact, it can even be more difficult. During my years of horticultural education, I remember several faculty members actually teaching us that most consumers have higher standards for ornamental horticultural products than they do for fruits and vegetables. One reason is that with ornamentals, whether it's a "stem" of cut flowers, a potted poinsettia, or a landscape tree, we are often buying the whole plant, or a great deal of it . But, when we put at tomato in your box, you really don't care what the plant looked like, as long as it produced a delicious tomato with no major flaws. Another reason has to do with economic elasticity principles: we are usually spending our "discretionary" money on ornamentals so we expect them to be perfect, but food products are perceived more as necessities.
So, Laurie, with Seed to Bloom often gets questions at the markets about whether her flowers are grown organically. Sure, if potential buyers don't care that the leaves (and sometimes the flowers) are covered with powdery mildew or brown fungal spots or holes from caterpillars chomping away, she could probably do that. But how many do you think she'd sell? Her competition is flowers being brought in from countries where they are often using older, more toxic, and considerably cheaper pesticides that those we use now in the U.S. But people are usually not aware of that and they choose those flowers, which are cheaper and sometimes better fit consumer expectations of what a bouquet should be.
So, this is my usual early season ad for Seed to Bloom flowers. We do hope you will try them sometime. Just like our veggies, they vary with the season: right now the bouquets are mostly beautiful sunflowers-usually yellow mixed with some reddish or maroon ones. Some subscribers have standing orders for the bouquets-every week or every other week. Or, you can email Donna at least 4 days before your box and tell her that you would like to have a bouquet in your next box. If you want to see the whole display of Laurie's flowers, take a Saturday morning trip to the Lake Worth Farmers' Market. It's among the best in the county-especially if you really want LOCALLY grown products.
A little housekeeping: If you want to send us a message after you get the newsletter, I know it is easier to hit "reply". Remember that it's Donna (firstname.lastname@example.org) who is in charge of packing your boxes so she is the one who needs to get that message about changes or extras. I don't mind forwarding the messages to her, but there are times when they may get held up. And, we understand that things happen in all our lives that necessitate skipping boxes. If you know (even weeks or months in advance) that you will be gone, you may give Donna those dates and she will put them in the "skips" line on your label. When something happens that you unexpectedly need to skip at the last minute, please call and leave a message on the machine. If you do skip a box, you may either get a credit on your account or choose to donate the box to the Caring Kitchen in Delray Beach. They pick up our extra produce weekly, so Donna saves the list of who is donating boxes from the week before and we make them for the day when the Caring Kitchen volunteer is coming here.
What's in your box this week: an avocado (from Erickson Farm in Canal Point) cucumbers eggplant watermelon summer squashes (yellow and/or zucchini) baby arugula (large boxes only) baby kale few cherry tomatoes
Around our area: Kai-kai Farm in Martin County has a dinner coming up on Nov. 5. Chef Rick Mace from Cafe Boulud will be cooking. Diane, the grower at Kai-kai and one of our farming friends has already alerted me that she may need to buy some eggplants from us, if hers don't produce enough that week. http://www.kaikaifarm.com/ep-ricks-frech-fall-harvest-feast-1475600248.php
If you've wanted to try some gardening yourself and you live in the Delray area, Cason United Methodist Church Community Garden still has 7 plots left for this season. Donna has gardened there for years, so she could tell you how it works, if you need information. http://www.casonumc.org/community-garden/ or 276-5302
Some people might think that we wouldn't want to encourage people to do their own gardening-that we might think it is a threat to our business. Not true! Home gardeners -or former home gardeners-are some of our best subscribers. It appears to me that is for two reasons: those people really appreciate fresh vegetables and they also know how difficult it is to grow them here!
Weekly extras: What are "extras"? This means that we either have an extra supply of some of the items we grow, or we purchased or grew some items just for extras (for instance, flowers, honey, herbs, or okra). The extras list makes the newsletter seem very long, but it's just because the list itself takes up 3-4 pages.
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 don't keep a supply of them here. We order just the amount that we need from other farms.
Locally grown Flowers (for Monday and 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 (looks like they will have some this week!)
Caribbean Exotics, Delray Beach: long- stemmed Heliconia-large, impressive "ginger" flowers $20 (most stems are about 3' tall)
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
LeDuc "Flavor Pict" Honey (most from his Loxahatchee hives, although some are on our farm) Honey 1 qt. glass jars $17 Honey with comb 1 pt. glass jars $16 Cornstalks -for fall decorations. (October only) Most are about 5' tall. Let us know when you want to pick them up and we'll have them ready for you. (Sorry, no delivery available.) $7/dozen Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch basil apple mint mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) oregano thyme chocolate mint
'Baby' Greens $3.00/bag 'Red Russian' kale Microgreens, sandwich bag (mix may contain radishes, arugula, kale, and/or purple kohlrabi leaves) 'Elegance' mustard greens mix-slightly spicy mixed mustards with some broccoli raab leaves Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch) Swiss chard- mostly red, some white mixed in Callaloo -a large cooking green often used in the Caribbean, since it will grow in hot weather
From other farms: 'Namwah' bananas -short and slightly chubby (Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee) $1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4 Avocados (Erickson Farm in Canal Point) $1.50 each
Other Veggies and fruit from our farm Eggplant -$3/lb. Summer squash (yellow or zucchini) $1.50/lb. Cucumbers (pickle size or regular size) $1.50/lb. Okra $4/lb. Papayas $1/lb. (green or ripening) Squash blossoms 6 for $2.50