Aley Chubeza #181, December 16th-18th 2013

Whoa! What just happened?

We are literally covered in mud. Since last Wednesday we have had over 200 mm of water and ice. The fields are drenched. So far, they have withstood the heavy-duty precipitation quite well. The water is being absorbed well, and we haven’t yet encountered any erosion or flooding in the fields, which is a cause for celebration.

Last Thursday evening’s heavy hail lashed away at our vegetables. During a hail storm on the farm, the greatest victims are the leaves. You’ll see the proof for yourselves in the greens, where the hail struck exactly the parts we consume. The frost that settled on the Ayalon Valley Saturday night then added pain to the hail injury. When we examined our plots on Sunday, we decided to give up on this week’s harvest of lettuce, whose gentle, fragile leaves had been torn by the hail and endured additional trauma in the freezing cold. We did decide to harvest the spinach, Swiss chard, kale and arugula, whose leaves bear the marks of valiant hail injuries, but are still good to eat when chopped in a salad, or cooked, of course.

The best way to protect the leafy vegetables from hail and relatively mild cold is by covering them with a very thin material which creates a protective layer from the hail and insulates them from the cold. However, last week’s heavy rains prevented us from covering all of the beds, and we only got around to finishing up that work Monday (and there are still miles to go before we sleep). The next few nights will continue to be very cold, and this week’s forecast is for very clear skies, meaning no clouds to protect us at night from this freezing cold weather. However, during the daytime hours, the sun manages to thaw the ice and warm up our wee plants, reviving them and allowing their life forces the opportunity to strengthen and breathe life back into the plant. We hope they get through these days peacefully and with as little damage possible.

The sweet potato leaves were completely destroyed by the cold. Fortunately, they are not part of the Chubeza menu, and judging by today’s harvest, it looks like the orange roots remained unscathed under the protection of Mother Earth. When the nights are so cold yet short and the sun warms the earth over the morning, the earth itself does not freeze and is able to act as an insulation layer for the sweet potatoes, who are not fond of cold weather at all. They prefer a temperature of 10 degrees at least, which is why it is best that during this season they are left inside the earth, and only gradually pulled out, on demand. The temperature falls below 10 at night, but remains warmer underground.

The potato leaves, too, were harmed. At this point, the plants have already developed branched roots, but have not yet begun growing the potatoes. We need to give them time to see how they get over the trauma by using their roots, which are also protected under the earth, and to make sure new leaves are growing. They will need to perform the crucial photosynthesis and act as the renewed engine of the plant. We hope for the best!

This week we request you receive your veggies with love and honor, and provide a warm home for them. Remember that like us, they too have endured a raging storm and are weather-traumatized. Just like some of us were disconnected from electricity gas or water, or flooded, they too had one very difficult week. Welcome them warmly, and join us in being grateful for their survival.

We would like to thank those of you who expressed concern for us and the veggies, and sent words of encouragement and love. You warmed our hearts!

May we have a quiet, good week, one of recuperation and rehabilitation!

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Maya and the muddy Chubeza team

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: parsley/dill, sweet potatoes, fennel/kohlrabi/beets, tomatoes, Swiss chard/kale, broccoli/helda (flat) green beans, leeks/scallions, cucumbers/red bell peppers, arugula/spinach, cabbage/cauliflower. Small boxes only: daikon/ turnips/radishes

In the large box, in addition: Carrots, celery, Jerusalem artichoke, radishes/ coriander

Wednesday: spinach, arugula/kale, cucumbers/pepers, cauliflower/cabbage, cilantro/dill, sweet potatoes, carrots/broccoli, fennel/kohlrabi/beets, radish/daikon/turnip, leeks/green onions, tomatoes

In the large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichoke/pumpkin, celery, parsley

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, sprouts, fruits, honey, dates, almonds, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil and bakery products 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!

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Recipes for storm survivers veggies:

Fennel soup (thank you, Howard!)

Indian Spinach Dip (thank you, Inbar!)

Spinach and pasta

White bean and kale soup

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