April 30th-May 2nd 2018 – Unseasonal Rain

A new supply of Orli and Shahar’s honey candy has arrived – old-fashioned handmade candy in your choice of yummy natural, ginger, anise, mint and coffee flavors. Add them to your boxes via our order system.

A new product from Shorshei Zion’s Eliezer and Rose’s creative kitchen: Kale Chips: delicious crispy chips made of kale, cashew nuts, red pepper, lemon, turmeric, dill and sea salt. Roasted at a low temperature to keep in the vitamins. Yummy and crunchy! While you’re at it, indulge in Shorshei Zion’s excellent crackers, buckwheat granola, amazing cookies, pralines and exceptional chocolate – all vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free. Super unique and worth getting to know. Order today via our order system.

Good news! Kibbutz Neot Smadar in the Arava has replenished our dwindling supply of both the delectable majhoul date honey in a squeeze bottle and their tangy grapefruit juice, plus these other excellent products: date honey in a jar, fruity gluten-free health snacks, grape juice and plum or peach nectar. Available directly from our order system.

The Fragrance of the Field (Re’ach HaSadeh). Welcome to hyssop, Baharat and nutmeg, which join the very prominent list of hand-ground spices from Assaf’s boutique factory in Netivot. Don’t miss the exceptional quality of these new spices, along with Assaf’s ground black pepper, sweet paprika, cumin, curry, hawaij, cinnamon and a healthy pizza spice.

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April is the Cruelest Month

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

From The Waste Land/ T.S. Eliot

The last few weeks have been a weather roller coaster careening us through stormy days and beautiful clear days, bright dazzling light and ominous dark skies, and dehydrating heat and boundless sheets of rain. This is the unstable spring we know about, but it seems like over the past few years spring has been shooting higher and higher towards the weather seesaw: the transitions are more extreme, the variations more surprising, and it’s all happening very late in the season.

When the showers came last weekend, we smiled to ourselves and pronounced them the last rains of the season. Then came the huge Wednesday-Thursday storms, and our hearts took a plunge when we heard the tragedy of the 12 who were killed and the one person still missing. Once again, we declared these to be the last rains of the season. But this week, the forecasts are once again tossing up the possibility of mid-week showers.

A walk in the field reveals no signs whatsoever of the heavy Wednesday and Thursday rains when the skies literally went dark, as if the light had gone out, and heavy rain pelted the fields. Huge puddles overflowed the soil, which was saturated as if we were in midwinter. Today, a mere two days later, after a spring sun quickly dried up the water, the heat reigns again and it’s hard to believe things were so wet only a few days ago. We are already reprogramming the water clocks to resume the irrigation we temporarily discontinued.

The extreme spring storms (though winter storms, too, have been more intense over the past few years) probably are connected to the global warming we have been experiencing over the past few decades. High temperatures speed up the vaporing process and energy-filled mists accumulate in the atmosphere to generate heavy clouds and surprising rain, stronger than what we have known. Global warming has also brought about a growing extreme between warm and cold air, and the convening of air currents within extreme temperatures makes for dramatic air movement, strong winds and heavy rain.

(I am careful as I write this, for just like the weather tempests, the world of science and meteorology is turbulent over varying opinions on global warming. My understanding is truly basic, and I will not hazard to offer to settle the debate.)

I am asked if these strong, late flash floods are bad for agriculture, and the answer is – it depends.

Wheat growers in our area are in a delicate position: those who harvested their grains early (usually in order to feed animals) rushed their reaped bales into a shelter and saved them. Those who did not, and whose yield is still scattered around the field mounds or was collected into bales but left outside to dry are concerned that a large part of the wet stalks will rot. The unharvested wheat fields are also in harm’s way if the stalks are bent by the winds and heavy rain, making them more difficult to harvest.

But the main victims are the fruit orchards. The hail wounds and rots the fruit, while the strong winds make the fruit fall from the tree before it has fully ripened. And sometimes even a large amount of rain, without hail, can be destructive. The fruit is over-saturated with water when it’s almost ripe and begins to swell rapidly, but its skin is not able to grow at the same pace and splits open. The real grievers are the preliminary fruits of the deciduous trees: cherries, nectarines, peaches, almonds, apples and plums.

Organic fruit orchards are more sustainable, as they are usually covered with a net structure designed to keep away pesky insects. Because organic agriculture abstains from chemical spraying, the common way to protect fruit trees from the harmful fruit flies, birds and other hungry creatures is a mechanical solution: covering the trees with a dense mesh net (similar to our net house or the agril material we spread over our crops). In stormy weather – hail, winds and heavy rains – the net may tear and require mending, but it usually provides significant protection to the sensitive fruits.

What about our very own vegetable field? Most of the time, these rains are a blessing for us (as long as they’re not hail) even when they are late or intense. Howeer, the combination of wet and warm is a challenging one in terms of leaf diseases and fungus, since within a day or two after it warms up, we usually identify the disease and its swift remission as the moisture quickly evaporates. We experienced it this year with our early melon beds, when the early-April showers brought the plant pathogen “Peronospora destructor,” but within a few dry days we saw the disease wilt and the plants regain their vitality. The positive side of these showers is that they refresh the vegetables and provide a significant irrigation round and a breath of humidity before the heat prevails till autumn.

At the start of another unpredictable, wavering week, we wish us all peaceful days, whether rainy or shiny. May we be capable of handling the weather-induced confusion and disarray, may we take deep breaths of rain and sun combined, and may we encounter the blessings of nature every step of the way.

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach, onions, lettuce, cucumbers/fakkus, leeks, tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage/fennel, zucchini, cilantro/parsley. Small boxes only: beets.

Large box, in addition: Kale, cauliflower, parsley root/celery stalk, garlic.

Wednesday: Swiss chard, onions, lettuce, cucumbers/fakkus, leeks, tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower/fennel/cabbage/carrots, zucchini, cilantro/parsley, parsley root/celery stalk.

Large box, in addition: Kale/New Zealand spinach, beets, garlic.