February 3rd-5th 2020 – Singing after the rain

Tu B’Shvat Treats

A special offer from Melissa of Mipri Yadeha: buy two fruit leather rolls or dry fruit and receive the third one free (only this week and next)

The Ish shel Lechem bakery will prepare special Tu B’Shvat bread this week and next week with yummy nuts and dried fruits in a 70% wheat flour dough.

Happy Birthday, Nature!

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Last Thursday we had the opportunity to actually plant our first spring plants (!) before once again getting drenched by showers… So this newsletter is blessedly rainy and muddy yet once again.

What is this rain descending from above, anyway? If you ask the Polynesians, they would tell you these are the tears of Rangi, the sky and the father of all things, mourning the separation from his wife, Papa, the earth. The Druze will tell you that on winter nights, along with the raindrops are salamanders that fall from the heavens, named “Abu Raflin” (father of puddles), which is why they are black as night and the lightning shines yellow spots on them. If you ask scientists, they will explain that vapor has condensed into tiny drops that join together to create greater drops. Once they become too heavy, gravity makes them fall, collecting more drops on their way down.  Contrary to all we know, the raindrop is not at all shaped like a drop… Raindrops are either round or elliptic, sometimes oblate. They descend to the earth extremely rapidly, at over 7.5 meters per second, a surprising performance for such a little drop which could be as miniscule as only a few millimeters.

In our family, we have a tradition of extreme loyalty to the rain. When it falls, we do not run. We allow it to tickle our nape, to trickle down our ears. Even our little Noga has already learned to put out her hand and let the rain wet it, and that the best thing you can do is lift your face upwards, open your mouth wide, and lick those wet and cold raindrops. Or, you can opt to just sing in the rain.

On rainy muddy days, and a day or two afterwards, we try to reduce our work in the field. The soil does not like being fondled when saturated with water. This is true especially for the heavy Chubeza terra rossa soil, characteristic to the area. As you’ve noted in your boxes, this is thick, red clay-like soil, rich in iron oxides and common to the mountainous areas of limestone and dolomite in which the weathering creates clay. As the rain washes it off the mountains, it slowly accumulates in the adjacent valleys, including our very own Ayalon valley. This red soil is also the material comprising terracotta, and it is the thinnest soil material (tiny grains smaller than 0.004 mm). When this earth is wet, it retains water and becomes extremely muddy. It also retains several minerals, which is why the soil is found in various colors in nature. As it dries up (relatively slowly), it shrinks and naturally crumbles into small lumps, allowing root, water and air to penetrate. This is great planting soil, with pores, ventilation and water retention abilities, in addition to being rich and fertile thanks to storing such oxides as iron, potassium, calcium and even nitrogen.

However, if you play with its clumps while wet, the soil’s hidden desires to become art awaken and it hardens and stiffens, complicating the seed’s ability to burst and the plant within it to grow. Which is why we try to take a break and resume planting and weeding only after the moisture is more or less absorbed and the earth is not so muddy. Prior to the rains, we were able to prepare the soil for end-of-the-winter planting by plowing open the land with a chisel-plow, a long fork that pierces the earth to make deep notches into which the rain can permeate. (In nature, the roots of trees and other plants with deep roots are used as natural “drain openers,” but in a field of annual plants like ours, we need to do this artificially.) Upon carrying out this procedure, we distributed compost and turned over the earth, but after the many rains that re-constricted it, we must loosen the ground anew to crumble up the earthen clods to prepare a proper platform for the new plants.

In its current saturated condition, we will not loosen the earth, but to enable planting in a timely fashion (last week), we needed to somehow ventilate the earth. This is where Gabi came to the rescue, as usual, with a great idea: he borrowed a blade clod-crusher, one with short and straight blades allowing it to only crumble the soil’s top layer without penetrating deeper into the wetter layers so as to prevent over-disturbance of the mud. Thus, after light cultivation we spread out the cover sheets and very gently planted the first zucchinis of 2020!

Wishing us all a nice sunny week with dry skies that allow us to plant again before the weekend’s big-time return of the rain.  We will appreciate your adding your hopes to ours in a Chubeza-style “rain pause” dance.

Shavua Tov to all,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach/kale, broccoli, scallions/onions/leeks, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery/celeriac, carrots, parsley/mizuna/arugula, lettuce, cabbage/cauliflower. Small boxes only: Kohlrabi/fennel.

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichokes/peas, daikon/baby radishes, beets, totsoi

FRUIT BOXES: Pomelot/oranges, bananas, kiwi/avocado, clementinot 

Wednesday: Swiss chard/totsoi/New Zealand spinach/kale, broccoli, scallions/onions/leeks, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, parsley/mizuna/arugula, lettuce, cabbage/cauliflower, red beets, celery/celeriac.

Large box, in addition: Kohlrabi/fennel, daikon/baby radishes, Jerusalem artichokes/peas.

FRUIT BOXES: Oranges/red apples, bananas, avocado, clementinot