Down on the farm: As I told you last week, crop growth is slower now. This week we'll switch from picking the summer squashes and cucumbers every day to every other day. With short days and (somewhat?) cooler temperatures, they just don't produce as fast, so it isn't worth it for the crew to be out there tramping around in the vines looking for a few little fruit. And it appears that we're going to be able to go directly from one corn crop to the next. And the first Salanova lettuces will go from the greenhouse to the field in the next few days.
One crop that will soon be completely done until spring is okra. So, both of you who like it might want to get some now, while we have a good supply.
Since we just harvested the butternut squashes, it's a good time for my annual winter squashes issue-and there is more to talk about this year (hashtag: pumpkin spice).
People sometimes think that butternut, acorn, spaghetti squashes, tropical calabaza, etc. are called winter squashes because they grow in the winter. Actually almost all cucurbit species (at least those that are commonly cultivated) prefer warm weather. Winter squashes are those with the hard rinds that can be stored without refrigeration for months. So, back 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 often imagine how important the winter squashes and pumpkins must have been in many parts of the country years ago. They must have been a critical source of Vitamin A to people who had no fresh vegetables during the winter months. Obviously that isn't a problem now, but 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 going somewhere else, and are not sure about taking them, I have carried vegetables in carry-ons and checked luggage and TSA has never said anything to me.)
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 more on local customs. We commonly use the name pumpkins just for the round orange ones with sutures. But the large green (sometimes striped) calabazas are called pumpkins in the Caribbean and central America.
What's in your box this week: 'Passion' yellow sweet corn cucumbers eggplant summer squashes (yellow squash and/or 'Dunja' zucchini) butternut squash cherry tomatoes baby 'Rokita' arugula cherry tomatoes: 'chocolate cherry', red 'Felicity', slightly larger yellow 'Golden Rave' baby 'Red Russian' kale (large boxes only) watermelon (large boxes only)
Enjoying your veggies: Basically, you can use most winter squash fruit interchangeably (spaghetti squash is a big exception, of course). However, there are certainly differences: some are sweeter, some are drier, some have more fibrous tissue. We're growing only 3 this fall: butternuts, the small beige Seminole pumpkins, and spaghetti squashes (which generally don't store as long as the others). Sometimes we grow the large calabazas. I really like to grow and eat them, but they are about tied with okra for popularity among our subscribers, so it's difficult to justify taking up so much space with them for almost 4 months.
It seems to me that the reason people don't use more of the very large winter squashes is that they are difficult to cut before they are cooked. In the case of the tropical pumpkins, for instance, a meat cleaver helps! I have used a knife to poke holes in some of them and then microwaved them long enough to soften the rind so I could cut them.
To me, winter squashes are still one of the best deals we have as far spending your food dollar on something that is good for you-and that you can use in so many ways. But, as usual, our food processing industry has found ways to corrupt them. Now we have some consumers who think that they are actually eating some nutritious pumpkin when they drink a pumpkin spice latté, donuts, or cereal, etc. Call it what it is: dessert!
As usual, you can do so much better by making your own pumpkin spice foods so you can control how much sugar and artificial flavorings and colorings you get, and what kinds of fats and oils you are eating. (Of course, I am "preaching to the converted", by saying this to all of you!) In addition to pumpkin pie, start with pumpkin soups, and pumpkin breads or muffins.
For years we have told you how to make pumpkin milk shakes. It started with a recipe from Manuel's wife, Patricia, a native of Ecuador. (See calabaza milkshakes in our recipe list.) She boils big chunks of calabaza with whole cloves and cinnamon sticks. Then she puts the flesh into a blender with sugar and milk. I use ground cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon, to add to my pumpkin milkshakes, because I like a stronger spice flavor. Then I put it in the blender with whatever kind of milk and sweetener I want to use-sometimes with a protein powder or nut butter, too.
You can use butternut squashes in any of these things. Roast them, steam them or even microwave them. Peel before or after cooking. Some people don't even peel them now: if they are roasting them for a soup or something where they are going to use a blender which breaks up the rind. If you cook more than you need, you can freeze the cooked pumpkin, of course. And if you run out of our squashes and pumpkins, plain canned pumpkin is also a good deal.
A little housekeeping: Please remember that payments for each month are due on the 1st of that month. In other words, your November payments are due Tuesday. If you are charging your monthly payment to your credit card, it will be charged on Nov. 1.
Around our area: Long-time subscriber (and Master Gardener) Betsy would like you to know that the Boca Community Garden has plots available. If you are interested, please contact Lynn Russell 561-866-9990.
Another reminder of the Mounts Botanical Garden Fall plant sale which is this Saturday, Nov. 5. If you have any interest in plants, it is really interesting just to visit (but you will probably find something you want!) Admission is $10, unless you are a member of the Garden. https://www.mounts.org/eventcalendar/
Although Mounts Botanical Garden is now an independent non-profit organization, it was started by Cooperative Extension professionals who wanted to demonstrate how to grow plants which were appropriate for this area. Marvin "Red" Mounts actually started it by growing fruit trees.
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
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
Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch basil chives mint (This generic mint is actually spearmint.) specialty mints: peppermint, chocololate mint, apple mint oregano tarragon (True French tarragon is very difficult to grow here. So this is actually Mexican mint marigold, which is used for tarragon in the south and west. All winter it also has small yellow edible flowers.)
'Baby' Greens $3.00/bag (8 oz./bag for first three) 'Red Russian' kale Arugula 'Elegance' mustard greens mix-slightly spicy mixed mustards with some broccoli raab leaves Microgreens, sandwich bag (mix may contain radishes, arugula, kale, and/or purple kohlrabi)
Larger greens $3/bag (large bunch) Swiss chard- mostly red, some white mixed in
From other farms: 'Namwah' bananas -short and slightly chubby (Yagnapurush Farm, Loxahatchee) $1.60/lb. or 3 lbs for $4
Other Veggies and fruit from our farm Corn 3 ears for $2 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) Yellow honeydew melons $2 each Squash blossoms 6 for $2.50