Down on the farm: It's too bad that our new subscribers have had to learn about the realities of a CSA membership so quickly. I would have liked to start with at least a couple weeks of good boxes-which means being able to include what I told you to expect.
But, "Mother Nature" doesn't ever care what I want. Constant rain, which, of course, also means no sun, is not good for anything we grow. The immediate damage was worst in the baby greens. A lot of baby arugula completely died-of fungal diseases that live in the soil and thrive in this kind of wet environment. The use of some kind of fungicides is a reality of farming in Florida. Organic growers may use chemicals such as potassium or sodium bicarbonate, or certain copper compounds, depending on their circumstances and what is allowed by their particular organic certification agency. There are also some newer biological fungicides as well as many brands of general microorganism combinations which are legal for organic production. I call these latter ones "yogurt for plants". And, just as when we eat yogurt it doesn't cure everything in our bodies, these products are far from 100% effective. One reason is that there are so many variables in the environment that can affect them: temperatures, sunlight, moisture, and competition with other microorganisms. Many of us "conventional" growers do use these "biocontrols", especially at the times when fungal pressure is not too high (usually when it is cooler and drier). However, in order to get more effective control, we use other fungicides, too. One of the most effective and least toxic classes of fungicides we have is called the strobilurins. They have been used for over 20 years in many crops. The chemical attracted the attention of scientists because it is naturally produced by a wild forest mushroom to keep other fungi from invading its "territory". It would have been prohibitively expensive to collect it in nature, so chemical companies found out how to make synthetic forms of it.
The one problem is, like many other low toxicity pesticides, the strobilurns have only one "mode of action". That means they interfere at only one particular step in the biochemical reactions that keep those fungal pathogens alive. The reason this is important is that it means the fungi we are trying to control are more likely to develop resistance than with fungicides that have several modes of action. It's easy to see why: if a certain fungal cell happened to have a mutation at that particular step in its life cycle, it could have resistance to this chemical. So, it would keep reproducing despite the use of this chemical, even as the susceptible cells died. With each generation, there would be a higher percentage of the cells with resistance to that chemical.
However, if the fungicide had more than 1 mode of action, that would mean that a cell with changes at all those biochemical steps would have to develop in order to have resistance. Obviously, that would be less likely to happen, and would usually take many more generations.
Once I attended a talk by an entomologist where he was asked if a particular insecticide was harmful to humans. He said: "only if you molt". An oversimplified answer, of course, but his point was that the insecticide interfered with the insects' molting process, so they could not complete their life cycle. It illustrates that sometimes the step in the pest's biochemistry where the pesticide kills the pest may not even be a part of the biochemistry of humans-or other "non-target organisms". Obviously, this usually makes the fungicide, insecticide, or herbicide safer for us to use. However, in order to keep from developing a pest population which is completely resistant to a particular pesticide, we need to alternate with other pesticides which have different modes of action.
We usually have Erickson Farm avocados for the first 4 weeks of boxes, but their crop is done already. They did lose some, but also picked any that were marketable the day before the storm and sent them to a commercial market in Miami. So, while I'm disappointed that we can't get any more this season, I am glad that they didn't lose the whole crop. Thank goodness there is some good news: nice cantaloupes. These plants had the least damage of any of our cucurbits (vine crops)-mainly because they were compact and many were actually protected from the wind, because they were growing in the alleys between our raised beds. Almost all those which everyone here has eaten have even tasted good. A few years ago, I had given up on growing a sweet cantaloupe here, but one of the plant breeders who trials varieties on our farm said that I should try 'Tasty Bites'. So we did, and it seems to produce a lot of sweet cantaloupes even in our wet environment.
Eggplants are also starting to produce but we lost about a third of the plants, so it is difficult to get a lot at one time. We are replanting, but eggplants grow best in long days of warm sunny weather-so it will be slow. The earliest to produce are the small thin types.
Like other banana growers in the area, Yagnapurush Farm, the banana grower we buy from, had extensive damage to their banana plants. Many of those plants were over 20' tall, and many of them broke off or fell over. However, some were still standing, so Tejal said she may be able to bring us a few bananas soon. We will fill "standing orders" first, and then any additional orders. But, we are going into a time of year when bananas grow slowly anyway, so it will be months before we have the usual supply of them.
We and the ladies at Culturful are thrilled that so many of you are interested in buying their beet kvass. But, it is made by living organisms, and, like our crops, they don't always cooperate with our human schedules and plans. Of course, we were all disappointed that they didn't have kvass for you last week. But, their new "batch" appears to be working, so we expect to have it this week and will catch up with your orders as fast as we can.
What's in your box this week: summer squashes cucumbers cantaloupe eggplant sample? corn?? arugula or kale (both in large boxes-we hope) spaghetti squash butternut squash (large boxes only) avocado? (large boxes only)
Enjoying your vegetables: The way it looks right now, we'll have to use baby kale instead of arugula for most of the week. I do realize that more of you like arugula than kale, so we are planting more arugula than kale, but this is just the way it's working out right now.
Around our area: Palm Beach County Extension will be holding a program called “After Irma: Restoring Your Landscape and Preventing Future Damage” for residents, business owners and community association representatives. The class will be on Saturday, October 14 from 9:00 to 12:30 and will repeat on Tuesday, October 17 at the same times. The program will focus on selecting plants for wind-resistance, proper planting and tree care, and pruning of young and mature trees to increase longevity and storm resilience. Also covered: how to assess and restore trees in the aftermath of storms, how and when to hire an arborist, plus tips on when to remove - or restore - a tree. Real-life images of damaged trees from Hurricane Irma will help participants understand the mechanisms of tree failure. A hands-on portion will include an examination of trees in Mounts Botanical Garden.
Classes will be held at the Mounts Auditorium at 531 N. Military Trail in West Palm Beach. Cost: $5.00 per person to cover materials. Cash and checks accepted. Participants should make checks out to PBC Board of CC. Pre-register by calling Candace Smith at 561-233-1759, or by contacting her at email@example.com, as class minimums and maximums apply.
EXTRAS: The best way to order extras is to email Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.) NEW! Beet Kvass – see below for information 1 week advance order please! 12 oz. bottles $3.50 2 liter "pouches" $25
Locally grown Flowers (may need some time to recover from storm damage): Caribbean Exotics, Delray Beach: long-stemmed Heliconia-large, impressive "ginger" flowers $20 plus tax (most stems are about 3' tall) 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 farms.
McCoy's Honey-raw, unfiltered, locally produced http://www.mccoysfloridahoney.com/ 3 lb. plastic jug $14.00 each (orange blossom, palmetto, or wildflower) 1 gal. (12 lbs.) $52 (orange blossom or palmetto) 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 Herbs (some are from our farm, some from Pontano Farms) $3/bunch basil apple mint oregano 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) Collard greens (they have lots of holes from caterpillar feeding) green/white chard Callaloo (tropical green-for cooking)-last week New Zealand spinach
Other vegetables from our farm: Butternut squash $1.50/lb. Spaghetti squash $1.50/lb. Yellow squash or zucchini $2/lb. NEW! Okra $3/lb. NEW! Southern peas (not shelled)-mixed varieties $1.50/lb. (usually a pound results in about half a pound after shelling)
Beet kvass information: We are now carrying a new product, a Beet kvass, which is made locally by two women who are subscribers of ours. No, the beets are not local-no one grows that many beets here, especially at this time of year. (They did try: when they started the company, they asked us about buying beets from us, but we just can't supply that many, even during the winter.) For more information about this product, check their website, www.culturful.com or see the information that they have provided below: Culturful beet kvass is a fermented, probiotic-rich food that offers the nutritional benefits of raw juice and cultured veggies. "Kvass" is Russian for "sour fermented drink." This age-old tonic is produced by lacto-fermentation, the same process as pickles and sauerkraut are made. Eastern Europeans have traditionally served beet kvass as a refreshing drink in warm weather. Alternatively, they use kvass as a base for a cold summer soup, such as borscht. When beets ferment into kvass, the nutritional value of the beets is significantly magnified. Beet kvass offers enzymes, B-vitamins, phytonutrients, active cultures/probiotics, electrolytes. The nitric oxide from beets makes Culturful a particularly good addition to pre- and post-workout drinks. Consumption of beet kvass can: » IMPROVE BLOOD FLOW. » REDUCE INFLAMMATION. » LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE. » DETOXIFY THE BODY. » REGULATE APPETITE. » IMPROVE DIGESTION. » BOOST THE IMMUNE SYSTEM. » OFFER CANCER-FIGHTING PROPERTIES. Culturful Beet Kvass is made from raw organic beets and purified water, it has a tangy taste and beautiful purple color. Beet kvass contains no alcohol and almost no beet sugar (4g of sugar per serving). It is produced by hand in small batches in the Healthy Kitchen Factory, a vegan facility in Boca Raton. Beet kvass can be enjoyed straight from the bottle or added to a smoothie, mixed with fresh juice, made into cold soup, even added to a cocktail. For recipes please visit https://www.culturful.com/recipes Enjoy great taste, captivating color, and the fermented goodness of Culturful Beet Kvass. Na Zrovie! To your good health!