Aley Chubeza #174, October 14th-16th 2013

An Autumn Heat Wave

If Professor Higgins had to teach Eliza Doolittle how to enunciate in Israel, he would probably rhyme: “It’s fall, and all’s so sunny that it’s funny.”

So the seventh of Cheshvan is long gone, and the prayers for rain have commenced loud and strong. And yet, the weather forecast predicts a heat wave over the next few days, 25-30 degrees, hot and dry. Initially, it may seem odd that we’re in the midst of autumn, as we have gotten use to expecting gray weather, an autumn wind, falling leaves, etc. But that’s the thing. It’s both. On the one hand, all the signs of autumn are pointing to the fact that we’re right on target. On the other hand, the warm, dry breeze reminds us what autumn is like here in the Middle East.

Our field is attempting to brave the dry, warm weather, anxiously awaiting the rain (together with us, its caretakers). The summer yield is decreasing. Today we only harvested three eggplant crates and four peppers. But on the other side of summer, we are looking at carrots and beets peeking from the earth. Today we ran a test harvest and decided to add fresh carrots to your Monday boxes—real newborns, just out of the earth. They’re still end-of-the-summer carrots, nice but not as glamorous as their winter siblings. Yet, they deserve a nice round of applause for surviving the last of summer days and the onset of fall to brighten up your boxes and complement the diminishing summer vegetables. To the contrary, the test harvest we ran on the Jerusalem artichoke bed yielded medium-size roots, so we decided to wait a couple of weeks to let them plump up.

The greens we harvested are the main victims of the heat. The tatsoi and spinach are suffering difficult growing pains, so we are giving them time as we wait patiently. After all, they are winter plants who enjoy cool, moist weather, and our demand that they grow during these hot, dry days seems somewhat ludicrous at times. Our kohlrabi, too, is facing complex challenges, plus the added blight of  the heat and the crickets. Last week we began harvesting, and although the kohlrabis were small in stature, we carried out the harvest in tribute to this stalwart vegetable’s readiness to take on the difficult challenge and still reward us with its delectable sweetness.

Last week we received our potato seeds (they look just like tiny potatoes— you wouldn’t know the difference) which we planted with fanfare in the mounds we’d prepared in advance. This concluded our parade of planting from last week, which included broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, kohlrabi, white cabbage, fennel, spinach, Swiss chard, red cabbage and leeks. All these situated themselves gently alongside the previous round of winter planting, including (along with another round of all of the above) red kale, celery (stalks and celeriac), scallions, parsley and parsley roots. What a field day for planting!

This event is even more exciting for us, as the new seeds enter the same earth in which we planted broccoli, potato and Swiss chard exactly a decade ago, tearfully bade farewell to five years ago, only to happily return to this year with these gleeful vegetables. The field looks so different now. Ten years ago it was surrounded by a tree nursery that has since been demolished. Most of the trees were uprooted and sent to be planted in various places over the country. But it still offers the same beautiful view of the Ayalon Valley presiding over our winter planting, and our nostalgic hearts beat happily and excitedly in anticipation of the future.

Other than the new vegetables on the block, we have some new products to introduce to you. Shira and Didi sent us their first olive jars of the season. “Every year before we begin the olive harvest, we open the olive barrels we placed the olives in, along with bay leaves, lemon, black pepper and chili pepper. We are always a little anxious, as the wait is so long and we never know what to expect. So when we pried open the barrels on Sukkot, and Erez, our family taster, declared success, we were overjoyed,” described Shira. You are most welcome to be the next to taste and order olives from Shira and Didi, along with olive oil, of course.

And a glance to the future: Rona and the Yotav Dairy products are deeply missed by many of you, and as I promised, after the holidays we contacted Puah from the goat dairy in Tal Shachar. Puah happily agreed to offer you her wide variety of goat milk and cheese products. However, she informed me that we must wait another month or two, as they now have a very small amount of milk, and are expecting calving. To our relief, in Puah’s goat farm, they do not manipulate the goats to excrete milk when their bodies are not ready for it, so we will keep our fingers crossed for a good whelping season. Upon its completion, we will happily introduce you to Puah and the members of her farm (those who walk on two and on four), and offer you excellent goat milk products bereft of additives.

Wishing us all a little more patience and a lot of prayers for the end of the heat waves and the beginning of blessed rain!

Wishing you a wonderful week,

Alon, Bat Ami, Ya’ara and the Chubeza team

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WHATS IN THIS WEEKS BOXES?

Monday: Parsley/coriander/nana (mint), potatoes, pumpkin, tomatoes, peppers,   lettuce, cucumbers, leeks, carrots/zucchini, sweet potatoes. Small boxes only: beets.

In the large box, in addition: Swiss chard, yard long beans/lubia/okra, radishes/garlic chives, eggplants

Wednesday: lettuce, cucumbers, potatoes, mint (nana) / parsley / cilantro / garlic chives, sweet potatoes, carrots, red peppers, leeks, a slice of pumpkin, tomatoes, beets – only for small boxes.

In the large box, in addition: radishes, yard long beans / lubia / okra, arugula / Swiss chard, eggplants / zucchinni

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