Aley Chubeza #209, August 4th-6th 2014

The Month of July has ended. Last week we billed your cards for the month’s purchases. When the billing is completed, you receive an invoice/receipt via email. You may view your billing history in our Internet-based order system. It’s easy. Simply click the tab “דוח הזמנות ותשלומים” where the history of your payments and purchases is clearly displayed. Please make sure the bill is correct, or let us know of any necessary revisions. At the bottom of the bill, the words סה”כ לתשלום: 0 (total due: 0) should appear. If there is any number other than zero, this means we were unable to bill your card and would appreciate your contacting us. We always have our hands full, and we depend on you to inform us. Our thanks!

Reminder: The billing is two-part: one bill for vegetables and fruits you purchased over the past month (the produce that does not include VAT. The title of that bill is “תוצרת אורגנית”, organic produce). The second part is the bill for delivery and other purchases. (This bill does include VAT. The title of the bill is “delivery and other products.”).

 

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It’s not easy being green (in the summer…) 

I’m sure you’ve already noticed that the last boxes have been riddled with “challenged” veggies – the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers, green beans, okra, black-eyed peas, corn, squash, potatoes, onions and even the greens which usually pile up in the box to add padding and color – are fewer and lesser in quality and size.

I’m sure you’ve felt the burden of the July heat. And now August, which arrives every year with every intention to stay, has descended upon us, making it a dry and hot fact of life and showing no sign of departing in the near future… Well, the vegetables are experiencing similar emotions, but unlike us, they cannot flip on the AC or ceiling fan, and are dependent upon the random breeze to blow their way. They also cannot walk over to the faucet to douse themselves with some nice cold water or crawl under the nearest shady tree…

Other than joining them in prayer, we cannot help them much with the breeze, but we do attempt to supply them with water and shade. They get their water through the drip irrigation that we activate during summertime to all the vegetables, specifically the greens who are neediest of all. We also supply them with protection by shade: we spread nets over the herbs, the lettuce and other greens that are able to confront the summer (kale, Swiss chard to a lesser extent and New Zealand spinach to a greater extent).

Sometimes we try too hard, and learn via trial and error. Last year, for instance, we believed the greens would be happier in our net house, where the tomatoes and cucumbers grow, more sheltered from the harmful insects. The green leaves that are expending their energy to sustain the heat are weaker than ever, thus the flying insects bite them and punch more holes than usual (as you can see in the holey spinach and Swiss chard leaves in your boxes.) We thought that by placing the Swiss chard in the net house, it could be protected from the little nibblers.

A nice thought, but the net house is also so much more humid, and the isolation from the outdoors does not allow the natural balance of harmful and helpful insects to do their job. The consequence was a huge aphid attack that basically destroyed the poor Swiss chard. This year we learned our lesson and left him outside to conduct his battle valiantly. So yes, he was bitten and chewed on, but at least he wasn’t altogether consumed by the aphids who remained low-scale due to their natural enemies (tiny wasps, carnivorous acarids and ladybugs…).

Another attempt we made this year – also not overly successful – was to cover the lettuce in a white agril covering when the heads are still young and soft. This material (resembling cloth tablecloths or wipes in color and texture) protects our small gourds (squash, cucumbers, fakkus) in their infancy against insects that carry diseases and other viruses. We were hoping perhaps in this way the lettuce would gain greater protection against leaf diseases it contracts due to its summer weakness.

However… it turned out that the lettuce was over-protected. With the fabric too close to the lettuce and probably too sealed, we (like a parent who tries too hard) focused on protection and neglected other needs such as light and breathing space. Thus the hapless lettuce suffocated a bit under the cover and simply did not develop at all. So instead of the small lettuce heads we are used to getting in the summertime which we can harvest in pairs and send to you, we got mature but tiny lettuces that simply did not grow at all.

So I guess we learn new things every year, even after ten years, and probably after twenty. It’s important to make some mistakes, too, which we can later remedy.

We’re back to the regular protective measures: lots of irrigation, covering by shade nets and even accepting our summer greens for what they are, a little holey, somewhat weaker and smaller, but still loved by us and making us happy during the hot summer days. And, of course, we try to be patient and remember that this heat won’t be here forever and will probably ease up in a few weeks. The breeze will return in the late afternoons, the nights will get less warm, and autumn will come a-knocking…

Till then, we hope you will accept the greens with much love and renewed appreciation in your salad or summer omelet.

Hoping the upcoming days are better, more peaceful and less painful to all,

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

What’s in this Week’s Boxes?

 

Monday: Mint/thyme/sage, lettuce, parsley/coriander/dill, tomatoes/cherry tomatoes, slice of pumpkin, okra/Hilda pole beans/yard long beans, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, scallions, corn

Large boxes, in addition: Leeks, butternut squash, New Zealand spinach

Wednesday: parsley, okra/Hilda pole beans/yard long beans, cucumbers, slice of pumpkin, tomatoes, scallions/chive, onions, eggplant/corn, lettuce, New Zealand spinach, small boxes only: cherry tomatoes.

Large boxes, in addition: butternut squash, mint/thyme/sage, red bell peppers, leeks.

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