Down on the farm: Hopefully the predicted "cool front" will really move in-mainly because it means drier weather. So, since fall is coming (LOL), it's a good week for my annual winter squash issue. (Subscribers who have been with us a while may want to skip this, since you already know it.)
Some people think that butternut, acorn, spaghetti squashes, tropical calabaza, etc. are called winter squashes because they grow in the winter. Actually, most cucurbit species (at least those that are commonly cultivated) prefer to grow in warm weather. Winter squashes are those with the hard rinds that can be stored for months. So, before there was refrigeration, families could store them to eat during the winter (as opposed to the soft summer squashes, which don't keep very long unless refrigerated.) I have tried to imagine how important the various winter squashes and pumpkins must have been then-and still are in some parts of the world. These and the root crops, like carrots and turnips, were a critical source of vitamins to people who had no fresh vegetables during the winter months. Even though that isn't a problem in most areas now, it's still nice that we can keep them until we want to eat them-some of you may choose to save them all for Thanksgiving-or later. (If you're traveling with them, I have carried these and other vegetables around this country in carry-ons and checked luggage and TSA has never said anything to me-except on one of my trips this summer they did want to check to be sure that was really a pineapple in my carry-on bag.)
The pumpkins and winter squashes are native to the Western Hemisphere, mostly from Mexico (maybe some in southern U.S.) through to south America. Botanically, they are from at least 5 different species. (There is some disagreement between taxonomists about the exact species of a few of them.) Whether we call them pumpkins or squashes depends mostly on local customs. We in the U.S. commonly use the name pumpkins just for the round orange ones with sutures. But the large green striped calabazas are often called pumpkins in the Caribbean and central America, as are our little Florida Seminole pumpkins. The only winter squashes we usually grow are butternut, Seminole pumpkins, and a few calabazas. This time we are also growing a southeastern heirloom called 'Candy Roaster'. It's a big squash-about 2' long and only about 4-5" in diameter. (We will probably have a few to sell in a week or two, for you adventurous cooks.) I have tried to grow acorn and delicata squashes several times. Both have had more disease problems here, to the point that it was difficult to get any yields from them. Maybe there are new disease resistant ones being developed.
The small tan Seminole pumpkins that will be in your boxes, probably for 2 weeks, got their name because they were grown here in Florida by the Seminole Indians for hundreds of years. These native peoples planted them at the base of trees and allowed the vigorous vines to grow up over the trees. This kept the fruit off the ground and made it easy to cut them. (They often all the way grow across our ditches on the farm.) Subscriber Bill, who grew up in Broward County, has told me that when he was a child (He's about my age, so this was over 50 years ago!) he remembers finding Seminole pumpkins growing in the wild areas that were still left at that time. Since they can produce at least 2 generations a year here, how many generations of them grew there without humans tending them? I'm sure some of the plants lived for years, and the pumpkins themselves will often stay intact sitting outside for a year or more. Each generation would be better adapted to the area, since those plants which grew and reproduced the best would be producing the seeds for the next generation. Seminole pumpkins are also on the Slow Food Ark of Taste list. This collection encourages production and use of foods (plant or animal products) that are unique to an area, and often are in danger of becoming extinct.
Donna was looking at last year's newsletter for this same week, and the one thing we had that we don't have this year is cherry tomatoes. Since we had them planted when Irma hit, over half the plants were completely killed, and others were broken. But, those plants that were left have come back and, of course, we have planted hundreds of others since then. This is one of the most popular items in our boxes, and we try to include them every week, once they start to produce. I expect to have them at least for the large boxes in about 2 weeks.
Despite losing some plants to Irma, there are lots of eggplants now-both the little skinny ones, and bigger round or teardrop shape. We're between crops of corn right now, but there will be more in a week or two. For several reasons, it hasn't been a great fall for our corn. The ears have been small and there are fewer of them, and the greedy raccoons took their share anyway.
More big greens are ready now: red and white chards, curly and Tuscan kales (see extras list below). Miguel and I are trying hard to keep the diamond back moths from eating the collards and kale, but not having much success with the collards right now. Chard, however, is related to beets and spinach, not to kale and collards. So, it is not affected by DBM, although it has its own pests, of course. The curls and folds and bumps in the leaves of these large greens make good hiding places for insects to be protected from pesticide sprays. Some of the milder chemicals that organic growers spray are especially tough to use effectively because they have to be sprayed directly on the insects to kill them. That means it helps to spray more often.
What's in your box this week: beet kvass sample (for those who didn't receive one last week) summer squashes Seminole pumpkins cucumbers eggplant arugula or kale or chard (2 in large boxes) butternut squash (large boxes only) maybe a cantaloupe or honeydew melon in large boxes
Enjoying your veggies: Since we have good crops of winter squashes, I was looking for some different ideas for you, and ran across a website with one of the greatest titles ever: "20 Times Winter Squash Kicked Summer Squash's Butt". It's actually a collection of links to recipes for winter squashes. The orange fleshed winter squashes are almost always interchangeable in recipes-some might be a little sweeter, or, for some recipes, you might want a certain shape squash to use for a serving container.
Although we don't often add to our recipe collection on the Subscriber page (password: cilantro) of our website anymore, among the pre-internet recipes there are 2 of my favorites: Thai butternut soup and calabaza milkshakes.
A little housekeeping: A reminder that November payments are due by Wednesday, Nov. 1. A note about late payments: Over the years, we've had a few subscribers who just stopped paying. Usually it has been new people, but a few times it has even happened with subscribers who have been with us for years. We generally gave them the benefit of the doubt, and kept delivering. But sometimes they never paid for the boxes they received. So Donna, and Julie, our previous office manager, have both watched more carefully and Donna lets me know when someone hasn't paid so we need to stop sending their boxes. Once in a while, something might happen that may make your payment late. If that does happen, please let Donna know that it will be late and when we can expect it. That way we won't skip your box. It's when we don't receive a payment or even hear from you that we will stop making boxes for you.
EXTRAS: The best way to order extras is to email Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org by 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: 'Namwah' bananas -$1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4 (short, chubby bananas) Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch basil apple mint oregano (temporarily out) rosemary "tarragon" thyme Lemongrass $3 for 1/2 lb. (about 5 stalks)
Microgreens, sandwich bag $3 (mix may contain radishes, arugula, and/or red kale)
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
Other vegetables from our farm: Eggplant: round ones or small skinny ones, or a mix $3/lb. pineapple tomatillos $3/snack size bag 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.) Okra $3/lb. Southern peas (not shelled)-mixed varieties $1.00/lb. (usually a pound results in about half a pound after shelling); thought we would run out last week, but we picked some more
Farm contact information: Donna (Office) 561-638-2755 email@example.com Nancy firstname.lastname@example.org