Aley Chubeza #278, February 1st-3rd 2016

Reminder: Pricelist as of February 1:

Small vegetable box – 90 NIS
Large vegetable box – 115 NIS
Small fruit box – 60 NIS
Large fruit box – 90 NIS
Family Fruit box remains 140 NIS
Delivery fees remain unchanged.

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This week marks the end of January.  At the end of last week we charged your cards for January purchase. Your bill is updated on our order system and you may view it by clicking 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 & fruits you purchased over the past month (the produce that does not include VAT. The title of that bill is תוצרת אורגני, “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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He spreads the snow like wool
and scatters the frost like ashes
He hurls down His hail like pebbles
Who can withstand His icy blast?
(Psalms 147, 16-17)

Frost covered our field this past weekend. As Thursday night’s temperature dropped below zero, many of our plants were frozen by the moisture that iced up on their leaves. So what exactly is frost? Frost is the result of very cold air. Cold air is denser than warm air, which is why it drops and then settles on the plants, specifically those closest to the ground. When it is bitter cold, the moisture freezes on the plants, especially in the arteries of the leaves. Usually this happens just before dawn, when temperatures have plunged.

Of course, there are plants which are more sensitive to frost, while others are more resistant. The Brassicaceaes, for instance, are quite resistant to frost and also deal well with low temperatures. Their leaves are covered with a waxy cloak that prevents water from settling on them, thus evading the fate of being covered by freezing water. Trees shed their leaves (or grow coniferous leaves that prevent moisture from accumulating on them) in order to prevent heavy damage during the frost. Root vegetables hide their roots under the earth, whose cover blankets them from frost. Leafy greens are more sensitive, which is why when a frost is on its way, we cover them in fabric that is designed to protect them a bit from the freezing air and limit the damage. In the last frost, the lettuce, Swiss chard and mustard greens which hid under the plastic tunnels or under the fabric we spread survived the difficult weather. Sometimes they do get covered by a thin blanket of ice, but it usually defrosts at sunrise. If the ice doesn’t remain on the leaves for too long, they overcome the shock and assume their lofty stance once more.

frost potatoYet, our potatoes were badly damaged. They grow in an open field. To protect them from the frost, we put up sprinklers which were supposed to shower them and raise the air temperature, but for some reason as yet unknown to us, the sprinklers were not activated on the critical night. Sadly, the potato plants were literally bitten by the frost. This is the second time in recent months that the potatoes have been miserable, having taken a blow in the last frost from which they bravely recovered. Only to be frozen again now…We certainly hope that these hearty spuds are able to overcome this latest calamity. Some underground parts of the plant which were covered by earth did not freeze and there’s a chance they will yet bloom, but it’ll take time. We will keep our fingers crossed for them and practice patience.

The snow pea was also hurt. Its leaves blackened and the pea pods are covered with white dots.frost pea
We now harvested it in order to help the plants heal, and also because the pod will continue to be damaged if it remains on the plant. Upon harvesting we examined and tasted the pods, and they seemed suitable for distribution to you this week. Give each pea a little pat on the back and nosh her lovingly within a day or two. I wouldn’t leave them in the fridge for too long. They’ve suffered enough from the cold.

In our field we have two types of structures that offer a relatively protected place to raise vegetables sensitive to cold, namely tomatoes and cucumbers. The habitants of the two structures responded differently to the frost: in the high, ventilated hothouse, the aeration must have reduced the frost. Perhaps the height also played a positive role. Therefore, the tomatoes, “baby” greens and beets did well in the frost. In contrast, the low, narrow tunnels must have trapped the extreme cold. The lettuce was unharmed, but the cucumbers in two separate tunnels were badly injured.

frost cucmber  frost cucmber2

We were so worried that we had all the cucumbers on the bushes (120 kg) harvested on Thursday right before the predicted frosty night, and we stored them in our packing house. To our joy, despite the freezing night (our packing house is not well insulated), they kept very well. The bushes in the field suffered terribly, and today we only managed to harvest a very small amount of cucumbers. Let’s wait and see what life has in store for them.

The rather scary verse from Psalms that I commenced with, He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes, is sometimes interpreted in an encouraging manner. Why does snow resembles wool and the frost ashes? The idea is not to focus on the damage and hurt brought by the harsh weather, but rather to choose to observe the resources we possess to confront them and protect ourselves. Thus we are defining the forces we have within ourselves against the snow and frost outside. The Lord brings snow according to the amount of wool we have at home (“He spreads the snow like wool”), and its force is defined by the amount of ashes which mount up in our furnace from the wood we have to burn – “scatters the frost like ashes.”

Hence, despite the challenge and difficulty, and although the frost has indeed wreaked great havoc, we still have the ability to purchase good organic vegetables from other farmers (and therefore, over the next few weeks you will be receiving more vegetables from other organic farms). We are patient and will wait and see how our plants heal over the near future, and we also acknowledge with appreciation the many plants that endured this frost and survived with grace. Fortunately, we grow a combined vegetable garden with a variety of seasonal vegetables suitable to brave the winter cold. When one of them does not succeed to grow well, another comes in and compensates.

Wishing us all a week of defrosting and recovery, enjoying the bright sunrays (albeit still rather cold), and a week of restoring our strength for regrowth.

Shavua Tov,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Broccoli/cabbage/cauliflower, coriander/parsley/dill/mint, tomatoes, lettuce, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, cucumbers/ sweet bell peppers, carrots, onions, potatoes, fennel/kohlrabi. Small boxes only: Peas/beets/turnips.

Large box, in addition: Leeks, kale/mustard greens, baby greens (mesclun mix), celery/celeriac.

Wednesday: onions, cucumbers/peppers, parsley/mint/dill, spinach/kale, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, beets/kohlrabi/fennel, small boxes only: celery/celeriac, small boxes: broccoli/cauliflower/cabbage.

Large box, in addition: Leeks, Swiss chard, baby greens (mesclun mix), cabbage, broccoli.

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, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products 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!

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