Two close friends of ours, Talia Schneider and the Kaima Farm in Beit Zayit, have joined forces to create a unique 11-session permaculture course scheduled to take place at the Beit Zayit farm, beginning in June. This is a great opportunity to learn from Talia, the “mama of permaculture” in Israel, in an extraordinary farm that features fascinating bonds between agriculture and the mountain, earth and community, and study and work. See full details in the attached document (Hebrew). I highly recommend this!
In honor of the Shavuoth holiday, Puah and Oded from Meshek 42 are offering Chalumi Cheeses. At this point, it’s a one-time offer for the holiday. The cheese is made out of the excellent goat milk from the flock at Meshek 42, of course, with no additives and oh so fresh. The cheese is lightly salted, but you can always add more if preferred.
Please email your orders via Chubeza’s online order system by Thursday, May 22. You will receive the cheeses in the delivery closest to Shavuoth (Wednesday boxes- May 28, Monday boxes, June 2)
It was only a few weeks ago (not even a month!) that we went out of Egypt. When I try to picture myself wandering through the wilderness saddled with luggage, relying on supernatural-fast food doesn’t sound like great fun to me, and surely it is no substitute for fresh-grown produce… Oh, I can certainly identify with the Israelites plea: “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost–also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (Numbers 11, 5-6) Usually they are viewed as ungrateful, ridiculed (“hey, it’s free and you’re complaining?”), and preached at: “The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin, the people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into cakes. And it tasted like something made with olive oil…” and yet, I can identify with them. With all the hope and ideals and future in the offing, beginning summer without some juicy zucchini, without their beautiful yellow flowers, sounds too difficult to me. I’m glad we’re done with this wilderness episode.
This week’s newsletter is dedicated to our new squash harvest, happily heralding the remainder of the summer vegetables to follow. You’ve already welcomed our spring potatoes, and their relatives the cucumber and fakus just hopped on the wagon last week. The rest of the gang is on their way: the flat bean, green and yellow beans and lubia, the various tomatoes, mint, eggplant, corn, melon, watermelon and other old favorites already planted and growing in the field.
Squash season starts at the end of winter. We sow our squash seeds in February when it’s still mighty cold. In order to protect them, we cover the earth with a plastic surface, and cover the seeds with another plastic cover to insulate them from the cold. The result is a sort of tunnel that heats up from the sunrays and acts as a shield from the biting frost and the storms (sometimes) at winter’s end.
Usually, in the first rounds we use transplants as well as seeds. In our experience, there were years when our first squash crops suffered a mysterious disappearance due to the young sprouts being eaten, probably by crickets or other earthy inhabitants. This was another reason to test transplants, as opposed to seeds, during this season.
But how does a squash move from being a green, impressive plant to actually ripening and bearing fruit? On the way, there are the big and beautiful yellow flowers, lovely to look at and particularly attractive to pests. The squash plant bears flowers of two types: the male and female flowers (everything written about squash holds true for pumpkins, cucumbers, melons, watermelons, fakus and the rest of the Cucurbita family). The flowers resemble each other from afar, but when you look closely, the differences are evident.
The insects are thrilled by the bright yellow, and they enter the male flower, have their fun and play, and gather some nectar and pollen that look like this:
Then they continue on to frolic in the next nearby playground, the female flower, spreading the male pollen all over. The now-fertilized female flower closes and shrinks, and at the end of the process looks like this:
If you look closely, you will see that at the edge of this flower, a fresh, new little squash is growing. It’ll only take him a few days before he is ready for careful and delicate picking, so as not to scratch or damage the shiny, delicate peel.
So, wishing you a season of “real” food— the kind that grows and breathes, the seasonal type that you miss when it’s not around, even though its taste doesn’t change upon demand and it is not ready-made upon gathering…
May we have a good week, tiptoeing between last week’s surprising raindrops that fell on us.
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Maya and the whole Chubeza team
WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?
Monday: Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, scallions/chives, bell peppers, garlic, cucumbers/fakus, parsley, carrots, zucchini.
Large box, in addition: Cabbage, beets, leeks
Wednesday: New Zealand spinach, potatoes, cucumbers/fakus, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini, green onions, garlic, lettuce, cabbage/beets, parsley/cilantro
Large box, in addition: onions, leek, red peppers
Zucchini and Squash Mostly-Easy Recipes: