Down on the farm: Yes, I admit it: when I saw the
temperatures last Monday and Tuesday I chickened out of seeding lettuce. I just
hate to plant something and then have to throw it all away. Now temperatures
seem to be generally dropping (slowly, though), so Santa and Angelica will
start the lettuce seeds this week, for sure. Besides, now that the watermelons
are out of the cooler, there is more space for the flats of lettuce seeds
to germinate in the cool temperatures.
The boxes are going to be similar to the last two weeks-but
the watermelons are gone so we're switching to butternut squash. And Donna
suggested that we switch the kale and arugula so that you will all get kale,
and arugula will be in the large boxes only. Especially when young, this Red
Russian kale is softer than the curly or Tuscan kales so is often used for
salads. But it can be cooked, too.
The next crop of corn is almost ready so I'm hoping we can
transition directly from this one to the new one.
Since cherry tomatoes pollinate in warmer temperatures than
most other tomato varieties, they are always the first tomatoes we plant. So
they are going to start dribbling into the boxes as they do every fall.
(Newbies-don't be discouraged when you only get a few of them-there will be
more soon.) It might be sort of up and down for a while, though. Our first
planting of cherry tomatoes on Aug. 10 did fine so they will produce until
something stops them. But the second group, planted 3 weeks later, was almost
wiped out by the tomato chlorotic spot virus. Apparently there was a big
population of thrips on those when they were in the greenhouse so less than 50%
of those plants survived. That means we should have good cherry tomato
production for a few weeks, then there will be fewer when we are in that time
that the second crop should have been producing-until the third planting is
ready to harvest. (So far it looks ok.)
To continue last week's explanantions: Another important
component in fighting these viruses (as well as some fungal and bacterial
diseases) is to grow crops which do not get the diseases. Theoretically,
keeping a crop healthy helps, although there is no evidence that it will
prevent a plant from getting a virus. Of course, we do try to keep them healthy
by using compost, the right amounts of fertilizer and water, and micronutrients
when needed: magnesium, boron, manganese, etc.
Advocates of growing heirloom vegetable varieties say that
one advantage of them is that they are resistant to diseases. That's because
generations of gardeners and farmers selected the healthiest and most
productive plants, which also had the other characteristics they wanted, and
saved the seeds from them for their next season. So, those plants with diseases
were not usually selected. The problem is that many crop diseases we have now
were not problems-didn't even exist- in the times and places where those
varieties were selected. So, here in south Florida in 2015, they usually
have more problems than do the modern varieties. But we keep growing them
because they do taste good!
Plant breeders have also bred many resistant varieties
resistant to diseases-usually by picking a variety which had desirable
characteristics and crossing it with a variety that has resistance to the
particular disease (often those are found through collection of plants in areas
were the crop is indigenous). Then they have to grow the seeds for the next
generation, and select those which are closest to what they want. This method
can take years to produce generations of plants to select only a very few that
are worth becoming commercial varieties.
These plant selection and breeding methods are why some people like to say that
our crops have been genetically modified for a long time. Technically, that is
true-they are certainly not the same as those which were originally found
growing wild, or even were originally cultivated.
But, the present technology, which I prefer to call genetic engineering, is
very different. Since the genomes of most of our important crop plants have now
been mapped, scientists often can identify a gene or genes which will do what
they are looking for.
Now, for those who are new to our farm, let me say this very clearly (hopefully
just once this season): WE DO NOT GROW ANY GENETICALLY ENGINEERED VARIETIES and
do not plan to start growing them. In fact, there are few GE vegetable
varieties-sweet corn and a couple squash varieties are the only ones that are
available now anyway.
Genetic engineering simply means manually taking DNA from
one organism and putting it into another. Those organisms can be species which
would cross naturally or, sometimes, ones which could not be crossed without
using GE. Most of the publicity has been about the GE that has been used to
develop several agronomic crops that are resistant to herbicides, since those
crops are grown on so many thousands of acres. That has encouraged more use of
some particular herbicides in production of some crops. In some cases, it
has been helpful; in others, it has caused problems. But, it isn't the genetic
engineering process that is the problem: it's how it is sometimes being used.
An example: BT corn. We spray BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) as often as
several times a week on most of our crops. It is a biological control for
caterpillars-one of the safest and most useful pesticides we have. Many brands
of it are approved for use by organic growers. (Yes, organic producers can and
do use pesticides.) The genetic engineering process allows it to be put into
corn, so that the corn can actually produce the toxin that kills those
"worms" that most people don't like to see in their corn. Using a BT
corn would save us a lot of spraying. Yes, it could encourage the development
of insect resistance to BT, but that can happen by spraying it too often, too.
Whether you are using a BT corn or spraying BT, it is important to periodically
use different types of pesticides to kill any caterpillar populations which
might be developing resistance.
As far as I'm concerned, the biggest way GE could help us is with disease
resistance. If a gene (or genes) for resistance to one of these squash or
tomato viruses can be found-maybe in a wild plant or in another squash or
tomato variety that we wouldn't grow because it isn't as good to eat, it would
usually take years of repeated crosses to breed it into the variety we like.
But, instead of having to go through that long plant breeding process, what if
that gene(s) could just be added in the laboratory and give us a new variety
with resistance to that disease? What if we could prevent these viruses from
affecting our tomatoes and squashes-without even having to spray for the
insects which vector them? We wouldn't be losing hundreds of plants as we have
already this season-just on this farm.
Frankly, I think GE will have to be used to combat citrus
greening, the bacterial disease that is close to wiping out much of the citrus
industry in Florida, and some other citrus production areas. But, right now the
industry knows the public will not accept GE citrus fruit, so it can't be
used. Sadly, the technology is there, but the trees are dying, so citrus
growers in Florida are switching to other crops or selling their land for
What's in your box:
summer squash (some is ours and some from Perez Farm in Loxahatchee)
an avocado (Erickson Farm)
baby arugula (large boxes only)
cherry tomatoes (may be in large boxes only)
small bag of sprouted beans (Universal Living Sprouts)
cucumbers (may be in all boxes this week
Enjoying your vegetables: This week and next week we will be including
some samples from Universal Living Sprouts. Probably the most common way to use
these sprouted mixed beans is to add them to a salad, although you can
certainly use them in a stir fry or mixed veggie sauté. Donna and I were
talking about how this week is a good one for ratatouille-I guess no culinary
rules would prevent adding these to the ratatouille. (Sounds good to me,
anyway.) These sprouts are available to subscribers as a
"special order" or "standing order".
In case any new subscribers have
felt overwhelmed with your first box, Jennifer, whose large family is going
into its 13th year with us, shared with me what she made from the contents of
last week's box: Baba Ghanoush, Fudgy Cocoa Cookies (with zucchini), Roasted
Corn and Zucchini Tacos (with avocado), Thai Cucumber Salad, and Pasta Salad
with Arugula. She noted that the last 3 recipes came from a website called
budgetbytes.com A similar cookie recipe is at: http://www.nutribuff.com/recipes/vegan-fudgy-cocoa-mint-cookies/
Everything sure sounds delicious!
A little housekeeping: This week Donna will be sending out invoices to
those who pay monthly. These are due by Nov. 1. (If you paid seasonally,
you will only receive an invoice if you bought more than $20 worth of extras
this month. And an extra thank you to those who did!) Please call or
email Donna when you have questions about your account. (email@example.com 561-638-2755)
Around our area: Most area Green Markets will be opened by the end of
the month. If you or your friends and neighbors go to the Green Markets,
and you care if you are buying locally grown produce, please ask the vendor
where it comes from. If you don't get a satisfactory answer, hunt down the
market manager and tell him or her that you care. Markets sometimes have to
include some non-local produce to have enough to keep customers coming back-and
to include crops that are not grown here. There is nothing wrong with that, as
long as vendors don't try to "pass it off" as local produce.
You all have an advantage because you know what's in season here. Some local
greenhouse growers, and farms which are located farther inland, might be
harvesting some cool season crops earlier than we do, but there is not too much
difference in the area.
Our vegetables do go to a few markets:
Seed to Bloom, the Loxahatchee grower where we buy our
flowers, sells their flowers at Lake Worth Market, which opens this coming
They also sell vegetables-some of which they grow and others they buy from us
or growers in "The Glades". Laurie, who owns Seed to Bloom,
just finished chemotherapy for breast cancer, so they will be selling more
veggies from us and other local growers until they are able to catch up with
what they usually grow themselves. They will also be at the new Sunday
market in Jupiter.
Heritage Hen's on-farm market is unique in our area. Check
the information on their Facebook page. It's a little difficult to find
Svetlana and Marty's farm at first. They are on Haverhill Rd, but many of us
don't realize that Haverhill Rd. actually joins with Military, just north of
Gateway, until we go looking for Heritage Hen Farm. At their Saturday market,
Jessica sells vegetables from us as well as some organic vegetables. They have
several other vendors selling interesting foods. Linda Hart of Crazy Hart Farm
in Fellsmere sells her free range poultry there, usually once a month, and is
now taking orders for Pastured Heritage turkeys for Thanksgiving. Call Linda at
772.913.0036 to order your turkey.
Weekly extras: What are "extras"? This means that we
either have an extra large supply of some of the items we grow, or we purchased
or grew some items just for extras (for instance, flowers, honey or okra). The
best way to order extras is to email Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For most extras, please order by 2 PM the day before your
box. If you are ordering later than that, please call 561-638-2755 and
leave the message on the machine. (Those ordering for Monday boxes need to call
and leave a message, since you don't receive this list in time to order by
email.) Flowers and sprouts 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.
Some people order particular extras as a "standing order". For
instance, you may choose to get cut flowers, sprouts, or even extra tomatoes or
lettuce each time you get a box-whether it is weekly or biweekly. Contact Donna
if you want to set up a standing order of anything.
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
Summer squashes from Perez Farm in Loxahatchee
$1.50/lb.-yellow, zucchini, or mixed (not available Monday and Tuesday this
Avocados from Erickson Farm in Canal
Point $1.50 each
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. $7/dozen
Namwah bananas (short and plump) from
Yagnapurush Farm in Loxahatchee
1 lb. $1.50
3 lbs. $4
McCoy's Honey-raw, unfiltered, locally
produced Good supply now!http://www.mccoysfloridahoney.com/ 1 lb. glass jar $5.00
palmetto, or orange blossom)
3 lb. plastic jug $14.00 each
(wildflower, palmetto, or orange blossom)
1 lb. glass jar Orange blossom honey with comb included $6.50 NEW! Honeybee pollen 8 oz. $12
LeDuc "Flavor Pict" Honey This honey was produced by the bees which did the pollinating on our
this farm this spring.
1 qt. jars $17
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms)
opal (purple) basil
specialty mints (chocolate, apple, pineapple, peppermint)
Veggies from our farm NEW! Swiss chard (the red stemmed
one) NEW! Collard greens (still young-leaves
Baby arugula $2.50/8 oz.
Baby kale $2.50/8 oz.
Microgreens $2.50 sandwich bag (mix may contain radishes, arugula,
kale, and/or kohlrabi leaves) NEW! Hot peppers: mix or
match; sandwich bag of 4-5 peppers $3
Jalapenos-this is the 'Jalafuego' variety. Our
"official" hot pepper testers tell us it's hotter than most
Cherry bomb peppers-round, red, also
Sprouts from Universal Living Sprouts in Royal Palm Beach (www.ulsprouts.com):
Again we are carrying these beautiful sprouts from Universal Living Sprouts in
West Palm. They are too perishable and expensive for us to keep them in stock,
so please be sure to pre-order them if you would like to try them. You will
need to order them about a week before the day of your box-or you can place a
The first 4 are more like microgreens-they are growing in
flats and then cut off. The beans are more like sprouts-with the tiny roots.
Sprouted greens 8 oz. $7.00
Buckwheat Sprouted beans 4 oz. $3.00 Adzuki
Pea beans-sprouted peas
Mixed (Adzuki, Lentil, Mung)