August 21st-23rd 2017 – Silly, Slow, (no) Cucumber season

Augustus Caesar, who gave this month his very own name, probably did so in order to glorify himself. Somehow Caesar did not take summer in the Holy Land into consideration, where the mere mention of “his” month evokes an instant moan, groan and a brush of sweat off the brow. Or perhaps a wish to disappear from the near-inferno till August ends.

Its Hebrew equivalent, the month of AV, received a more appropriate title deriving from the word Abu, Acadian for “stalk” (or stem). Probably because this was the time of year when the harvesting of the stalks ended and the trees – dry from the hot weather – were chopped down and stored for personal needs and for use in the temple services. In Babylonian, the word translated to “fire” (no further explanation required…)

Our fields are cooking away in the heavy heat. Most of the crops are, of course, summer vegetables, but they too need some occasional relief from the heat. We help them out by irrigating frequently, covering the earth to prevent the moisture from evaporating, and covering certain beds with shade nets. Some of the vegetables you have been receiving in your boxes over these summery weeks are those which harden and dry up upon ripening, thus they have been extracted from the earth, stored at Chubeza and gradually distributed to you. Such are the pumpkins, onions, potatoes and garlic. The veggies growing in the field are the juicier, greener members of your boxes – tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, lubia, okra, New Zealand spinach and Swiss chard, the herbs, sweet potatoes, zucchini, leeks and scallions.

Others grow in the wide open field – the tender greens are protected under black shade nets which somewhat lessen the radiation, and vegetables with more stamina courageously brave the hot sun in the open field. Our growth houses – the big hothouse and smaller tunnels– accommodate the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and peppers. The tunnels, too, are covered with black nets which limit the radiation, somewhat easing the heat in the already hot structure. In the field, many of the summer vegetables we bade farewell to have been replaced by watermelon, melon, pumpkin, and onions. Other parts of the field stand empty, dry and brown, storing the earthly cool with its hidden virtues that await the next rounds of seeding and planting – for winter vegetables, which started this week.

Because, though August is still at its peak and the heat prevails, our fields are already dotted with autumn and winter plants: for some weeks now, light green lettuces have been confidently growing in the shady tunnel, and this week we were excited to start planting the first round of such autumn plants as cabbage, cauliflower, fennel, beets, celery and celeriac. We also seeded carrots and beans, which will be joined next week by autumn greens and fresh roots: totsoi, arugula, turnips, daikon and autumn onions. Next in line: broccoli and kale. So, after a few weeks bereft of planting, we are back to filling up the clumps of earth with plants and seeds. And although the heat beats down on us and our mouths are parched with thirst, we feel fresh within as we wait for these young’uns with an autumny-wet-kind of happiness.

And what about the cucumbers? Well, mid-summer is not their best of times. Though they are summer varieties, cucumbers are not as heat resistant as their “tough” summer vegetable colleagues, and they are quite vulnerable to extreme heat waves. The July heatwaves harmed cucumber hothouses all over the country. Organic and non-organic, we cucumber growers all share the same hardships…. The regular market compensates for the shortage by importing cucumbers, making the local blight go nearly unnoticed. In the already small organic market, every loss of hothouse produce is felt. Last year we were lucky, as our cucumbers did very well over this period, so we did not feel the lack that hit various organic markets. This year, our cucumbers suffered and then wilted, and due to the general shortage we been unable to purchase enough cucumbers to supplement your boxes.

New fresh cucumber bushes are already growing nicely in the tunnel, but we will only begin gradually harvesting them in a few weeks’ time. We hope the great cucumber famine will end soon and we will be able to purchase cucumbers for your boxes until ours yield, but at this point we’re not sure exactly when this will happen. We are thoroughly enjoying the rest of the summer vegetables filling up the baskets, but miss the cucumbers dearly and hope for their speedy return.

And till then we wish you all a pleasant end-of-summer, despite the heavy heat. Drink up and take cover from the hot sun!

Wishing us good days,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Parsley/coriander, butternut squash/white pumpkin, yard-long beans, bell peppers, eggplant/ potatoes, tomatoes, corn, onions, slice of pumpkin, sweet potatoes. Small boxes only: leeks/garlic.

Large box, in addition: New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, okra, scallions, edamame (green soy)/cherry tomatoes.

Wednesday: Parsley/coriander, butternut squash/white pumpkin, yard-long beans, bell peppers, tomatoes, corn/potatoes/cherry tomatoes, slice of pumpkin, sweet potatoes, leeks/garlic, edamame (green soy). Small boxes only: scallions.

Large box, in addition: New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, onions, eggplant, okra.

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, sprouts, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, apple juice, cider and jams, dates silan and healthy snacks and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!