August 21st-23rd 2017 – Silly, Slow, (no) Cucumber season

Augustus Caesar, who gave this month his very own name, probably did so in order to glorify himself. Somehow Caesar did not take summer in the Holy Land into consideration, where the mere mention of “his” month evokes an instant moan, groan and a brush of sweat off the brow. Or perhaps a wish to disappear from the near-inferno till August ends.

Its Hebrew equivalent, the month of AV, received a more appropriate title deriving from the word Abu, Acadian for “stalk” (or stem). Probably because this was the time of year when the harvesting of the stalks ended and the trees – dry from the hot weather – were chopped down and stored for personal needs and for use in the temple services. In Babylonian, the word translated to “fire” (no further explanation required…)

Our fields are cooking away in the heavy heat. Most of the crops are, of course, summer vegetables, but they too need some occasional relief from the heat. We help them out by irrigating frequently, covering the earth to prevent the moisture from evaporating, and covering certain beds with shade nets. Some of the vegetables you have been receiving in your boxes over these summery weeks are those which harden and dry up upon ripening, thus they have been extracted from the earth, stored at Chubeza and gradually distributed to you. Such are the pumpkins, onions, potatoes and garlic. The veggies growing in the field are the juicier, greener members of your boxes – tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, lubia, okra, New Zealand spinach and Swiss chard, the herbs, sweet potatoes, zucchini, leeks and scallions.

Others grow in the wide open field – the tender greens are protected under black shade nets which somewhat lessen the radiation, and vegetables with more stamina courageously brave the hot sun in the open field. Our growth houses – the big hothouse and smaller tunnels– accommodate the tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and peppers. The tunnels, too, are covered with black nets which limit the radiation, somewhat easing the heat in the already hot structure. In the field, many of the summer vegetables we bade farewell to have been replaced by watermelon, melon, pumpkin, and onions. Other parts of the field stand empty, dry and brown, storing the earthly cool with its hidden virtues that await the next rounds of seeding and planting – for winter vegetables, which started this week.

Because, though August is still at its peak and the heat prevails, our fields are already dotted with autumn and winter plants: for some weeks now, light green lettuces have been confidently growing in the shady tunnel, and this week we were excited to start planting the first round of such autumn plants as cabbage, cauliflower, fennel, beets, celery and celeriac. We also seeded carrots and beans, which will be joined next week by autumn greens and fresh roots: totsoi, arugula, turnips, daikon and autumn onions. Next in line: broccoli and kale. So, after a few weeks bereft of planting, we are back to filling up the clumps of earth with plants and seeds. And although the heat beats down on us and our mouths are parched with thirst, we feel fresh within as we wait for these young’uns with an autumny-wet-kind of happiness.

And what about the cucumbers? Well, mid-summer is not their best of times. Though they are summer varieties, cucumbers are not as heat resistant as their “tough” summer vegetable colleagues, and they are quite vulnerable to extreme heat waves. The July heatwaves harmed cucumber hothouses all over the country. Organic and non-organic, we cucumber growers all share the same hardships…. The regular market compensates for the shortage by importing cucumbers, making the local blight go nearly unnoticed. In the already small organic market, every loss of hothouse produce is felt. Last year we were lucky, as our cucumbers did very well over this period, so we did not feel the lack that hit various organic markets. This year, our cucumbers suffered and then wilted, and due to the general shortage we been unable to purchase enough cucumbers to supplement your boxes.

New fresh cucumber bushes are already growing nicely in the tunnel, but we will only begin gradually harvesting them in a few weeks’ time. We hope the great cucumber famine will end soon and we will be able to purchase cucumbers for your boxes until ours yield, but at this point we’re not sure exactly when this will happen. We are thoroughly enjoying the rest of the summer vegetables filling up the baskets, but miss the cucumbers dearly and hope for their speedy return.

And till then we wish you all a pleasant end-of-summer, despite the heavy heat. Drink up and take cover from the hot sun!

Wishing us good days,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Parsley/coriander, butternut squash/white pumpkin, yard-long beans, bell peppers, eggplant/ potatoes, tomatoes, corn, onions, slice of pumpkin, sweet potatoes. Small boxes only: leeks/garlic.

Large box, in addition: New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, okra, scallions, edamame (green soy)/cherry tomatoes.

Wednesday: Parsley/coriander, butternut squash/white pumpkin, yard-long beans, bell peppers, tomatoes, corn/potatoes/cherry tomatoes, slice of pumpkin, sweet potatoes, leeks/garlic, edamame (green soy). Small boxes only: scallions.

Large box, in addition: New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, onions, eggplant, okra.

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, sprouts, honey, dates, almonds, garbanzo beans, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, apple juice, cider and jams, dates silan and healthy snacks 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 #302, August 15th-17th 2016

mipri_yadea_logoMelissa of Mipri Yadeha is thrilled to introduce two new fruit leather flavors:
Hot Melon with Basil and Taste of Summer – Minty Watermelon – both inspired by an episode of Master Chef and the talented contestants Lama Shehadeh and Ron Soreanu.
These flavors join summer classics such as: pure peach, passion, plum crazy, applemonana and more.
Below are links to the source of inspiration: program and recipes.
To health of body and spirit, Melissa

Watermelon Sorbet (Lama Shehadeh):

Basil Granita (Ron Soreanu):

Full episode

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FLOWER POWER!

This week, we continue our tour of Chubeza’s field. This time, we’ll take a special look at the flowers,  some blossoming on the plant right next to the vegetable they’re growing, others letting us know there is still time till the produce ripens and is ready for harvest. There are also flowers that indicate that harvest time is over, the plant is growing old and it’s time to bid farewell. So let’s take a cool, virtual stroll in our scorching summer field.

The zucchinis continue to yield fruit, some growing in beds in the open field, others seeded in our net house, which is now actually covered by a shade net and an additional cover of white agril material for extra protection. Summer may be its natural season, but at the end of the season the zucchini is very sensitive. Even the smallest disturbance will make it super vulnerable, often leading to total collapse. Look how beautiful they are right out here:

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Some Chubeza residents live comfortably with the extreme summer heat. After all, these eggplants are African-born, they know heat… Look at them growing plump on the bushes in the open field:

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Right next to the eggplant is a good friend, unperturbed by the summer heat: the okra, in full glory, celebrating her Golden Age in stunning green, yellow and red. Hey, who said summer was drab?

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Here’s one you haven’t yet met in your boxes, but in the field, the sweet potato is living it up, dispatching her arms, elbows, legs, and tongue to reach every corner of the lush green space she’s created for herself. Here the branches and leaves and crowded tendril roots have created a verdant carpet, calmly blowing in the summer breeze:

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And from that future encounter to a farewell from our artichoke bushes, which haven’t occupied your boxes for awhile now. They started out as soft, green buds and turned into full-fledged prickly, grey grandads. But they’re still a lovely sight for sore eyes! We just mowed down the bed and we’re cleaning it in preparation for next year’s planting, so here’s one last nostalgic look for you:

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And once again, take a look at the three hues of our field, yellow-green-blue: the light blue of summer skies, the yellow of corn-becoming-popcorn on the tall bushes, the green of the Jerusalem artichoke, still midway, now in full bloom with a bold yellow chrysanthemum.

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The field is constantly at a parallel stage of before-after-and in between. Just like summer vacation, with the schoolyear behind us, summer camp over and us in the midst of vacation, trying to juggle children-work and life, on the cusp of the next schoolyear and new beginnings: farewell-meeting-yearning- expectation and waiting are entangled and interspersed.

Wishing everyone lots of R&R, water, skies and family togetherness.

Shavua Tov,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S SUMMER BOXES?

Monday: New Zealand spinach/nana mint, parsley/coriander, tomatoes, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, butternut squash, bell peppers, corn, leeks/scallions, onions.

Large box, in addition: Okra/Thai lubia, Provence pumpkin slice, Swiss chard/basil.

Wednesday: New Zealand spinach/nana mint, parsley/dill, tomatoes, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers/potatoes, corn, leeks/scallions, Provence pumpkin slice, small boxes: okra/Thai lubia/onions.

Large box, in addition: Okra/Thai lubia and onions, butternut squash, Swiss chard

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 #301, August 8th-10th 2016

Important message about a small change
Next Sunday is the fast of Tisha’ B’Av. In order to allow our staff to prepare for harvest before the fast day our order system for Monday delivery will close by Thursday night at 9:00 PM. Please make your changes by then. Thank you!

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This week we bid farewell to Puah and Oded’s dairy projects from Tal Shachar. After much deliberation, Puah and Oded are selling their goat herd. Thus beginning this week, we will no longer supply products from Meshek 42. We are currently searching for another goat farm with which to combine efforts, and will update you on our progress.

We are tremendously grateful to Puah, Oded and all the farm and family workers who provided us with excellent, healthy and joyful milk products from a natural, free herd. Thank you, Puah and Oded, for your responsibility and devotion, fairness and reliability. We were lucky to work with you, and we wish you much luck and good fortune in your future endeavors.

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לוגו- התפוחים של חמוטל ותומרA New Relationship  –
Tomer and Chamutal produce natural apple juice and cider (non-organic) at Moshav Givat Yearim. For some time we have been trying to connect, but this summer it finally worked and we are happy to add them to Chubeza’s circle of “cottage” manufacturers.  Their apple juice, apple cider and homemade jams will now be available for purchase via our Order System, to be delivered right in your boxes.

Here is Chamutal & Tomer’s story:
Chamutal and Tomer’s Apples is located in Givat Ye’arim, where we cultivate apples and other summer fruit. We squeeze natural apple juice, produce alcoholic apple cider and create a variety of excellent quality jams from apples, pears and nectarines. We established this enterprise as a joint effort, beginning our love affair with apples in 2013 after working in agriculture at Kibbutz Tzuba and noticing the large quantity of fruit which remains on the ground after harvest. Apparently, gathering the fruit and sending it to factories is not financially rewarding, and thus much fruit of excellent quality is wasted and becomes an agricultural hazard. Hence, we decided to establish a small factory for fruit cultivation. This is our way to work together, remaining close to the earth and the world of agriculture.

We use apples grown in Kibbutz Tzuba (non-organic), the sweet golden “Delicious” and the tart and crunchy “Granny Smith” to prepare the juice and cider. These products are made from 100% apples, without any preservatives. We do all the gathering, washing, cleaning and separating, after which we squeeze the apples into juice. Part is then made into fresh juice and part into alcoholic cider. The apple cider is in fact apple beer, with a 5% alcohol content. This cider is sweeter than beer and feels lighter.

We invite you to try out our products, produced with a personal touch and with a lot of love.

Prices:
1 liter apple juice      17 NIS
2 liter apple juice      27.5 NIS
Cider (330 ml)           13.5 NIS
Nectarine/apple jam            16.5 NIS
Pear in wine jam      17.5 NIS

Make your order via our order system today!

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shana baginaA reminder – this year, too, we are happy to offer the “Shana BaGina” calendar. It is a Hebrew/English/agricultural/pictorial calendar, unique and beautifully made by Ilana and Davidi, old friends who are gardeners and collectors, cooks and talented dreamers. The calendar walks you through the year, describing in pictures and words the annual cycle in your home garden and surrounding nature. This almanac, the fruit of Ilana’s talented labors, provides many professional tips for your home garden. Here you will find instructions for preparing vegetable and flowerbeds, tending to trees and growing plants at home. Included are the specifications of annual and perennial wild plants for every month of the year, as well as refreshing seasonal recipes and tips for preserving food from wild plants, your home garden and more. This is a great gift for every gardener, collector, cook, eater, and anyone who wishes to be in tune with the changing rhythm of life, seasons and the climate in our country.

The תשע”ז 2016-2017 “Shana BaGina” calendar has brand new illustrations, helpful tips, recipes you haven’t before encountered and new topics (growing plants in bins, nature in the city and more). It is also 30% bigger (!) than last year’s calendar (as per your request) – a 31X31 cm square. A sneak peek and further details are available on their website Shana Bagina

Prices:
Shana BaGina Calendar   75 NIS
Two calendars                      140 NIS
Three calendars:                  205 NIS
Five Calendars:                    340 NIS
Eight Calendars:                  488 NIS
Ten Calendars:                    600 NIS

Order the calendars via our order system (under the “Chubeza Vegetables” category) and they will arrive in your boxes over the last two weeks of August and throughout September.
Judging from last year’s experience, make your order fast before these beautiful calendars disappear!
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And after all these messages…

Over the next couple of weeks we will take you on a virtual tour of Chubeza’s field. This isn’t the season to invite you to an Open Day…. It’s scorching hot from 10 am, with no relief in sight till evening. But we know you miss us, and as we will only meet again in person at the end of October, we want to provide you with a look at our bountiful field during this season.

Thanks to irrigation, despite the heavy heat our field is quite green, abounding with beautiful flowers and juicy fruit. Here are some pictures. We’ll begin with a refreshing Israeli salad:

The tomatoes are gleefully going wild, inside and outside, large and middle- sized and little cherry tomatoes, all peeking cheeky red from between the leaves. Here’s one photo from the open field, and another from the net house:

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The cucumber bushes (growing only in the net house) are making great efforts to grow this year. They did exceptionally well last year, but are currently experiencing a difficult year. And yet, despite the smaller quantity, yummy beautiful cucumbers are growing on the mature bushes in our growth houses.

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And just next to them, dainty new cucumber plants are beginning their ascent:

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In the depth of the pepper thicket, among trellising vines and under shade nets, peppers are blushing their way from green to orange to red:

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And to complete your salads, a family photo: two cousins, the young green scallion, pungent and speedy, aside the patient, diligent leek, taking her time as she thickens away. They are neighbors, growing in the open field, surviving the hot summer beautifully together.

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For your main course, the huge Tripolitanian pumpkin has been gathered from the field, their plot has been cleaned and we prepared a mansion just for them with fancy parking for the royal chariots: a cool, ventilated, padded regal net shade where they are parked for the time being as they slowly arrive at the packing house to be sliced, wrapped and escorted to your home:

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For a light nibble at the beach or pool side – corn is everywhere in our field, at various heights and stages of growth, from little sprouts through middle-sized and bigger to big and tall, blossoming and producing fruit. Here are two corn beds, one middle-sized brother and a big brother, side by side:

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And there’s dessert-

Under the net, seeking protection from the oppressive heat, birds and the viruses going around, here’s a peek at our last melon beds in the fields, making their best attempt to survive summer:

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Thus concludes our virtual tour of Chubeza for this week. Tune in next week for more photos and stories about life in the field.

Wishing you all a healthy coping-with-the-heat, navigating between family and work, outdoors and indoors.

This Friday marks Queen Day in Thailand. Happy holiday to our Thai workers celebrating the occasion!

Shavua Tov
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, parsley, tomatoes, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, melon/butternut squash, zucchini/okra/Thai lubia, corn, leeks/scallions. Tripoli/Provence pumpkin slice. Special gift: nana mint

Large box, in addition: Bell peppers, onions, dill/coriander

Wednesday: New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard/basil, parsley, tomatoes, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, onions, butternut squash, corn, leeks/scallions. Small boxes only: zucchini/peppers

 Large box, in addition: okra, Thai lubia/potatoesTripoli/Provence pumpkin slice, cilantro/dill/nana mint.

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 #299, July 25th-27th 2016

mano

Manu, our baker par excellence, is off to her summer vacation and will be taking a break from bread-baking during the month of August. Bread as usual this week. Manu will resume baking on Wednesday, August 28th, and henceforth it’s back to routine life…

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The month of July is nearing its end. At the end of this week we will be charging your cards for this month’s purchases.

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!

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The Field at Rest

The three weeks between the 17th of Tammuz to Tisha B’av begin this week. Growing up on a religious kibbutz, I remember feeling the unfairness of these three weeks that land right in the middle of summer vacation, and prevent you from enjoying all its great virtues – swimming, beach, theatre and almost anything fun. The three weeks commenced with my cousin’s birthday (born on the 17th of Tamuz) and ended with my birthday (eve of Tisha B’Av). At Chubeza, too, summer pauses, and that actually makes sense in this exhausting heat. In our field this break takes place from the middle of July till mid-August.

Our “three weeks” is the period in which we hardly seed or plant. We’ve completed the planting of peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, okra, black-eyed peas, squash, sweet potatoes and the remainder of the summer crops. There is some clear logic in not planting when the heat is so oppressive. Those who are out in the field during this time of the year, even for a few hours, can easily grasp why this is not a good time to place new plants in the earth. It’s not the temperature per se, but rather the heat stress which motivates viruses, pests and other troublemakers to go out there and party. Within our enclosed nurseries, which turn into net houses in the summer (we cover them from the top with a shade net, then open the plastic walls so that the side walls are nets as well), the atmosphere is a little different, allowing us to continue seeding and planting cucumbers every month even during the summer season. The corn, too, continues to be seeded in the field weekly in order to assure the nonstop supply of this sweet gold.

We discontinued lettuce planting at the beginning of June. You probably have noticed that they, too, are challenged by summer, getting smaller and somewhat pitiful. The last lettuces will be harvested this week or next, after which we will take a 6-week break with no ripe lettuces in the field. We will miss them till they return in September…

These weeks are allowing us the opportunity to contemplate autumn and winter and to schedule our next season’s seeding and planting. This recess marks a very neat shift from summer to autumn vegetables. In the middle of August we will begin seeding green beans, and along with them the cauliflower and cabbage, beet, fennel, and celery (root and stalk). At the end of August we will begin the autumn seeding: broccoli, turnip, arugula, leek, Swiss chard and kale, after which the rest of the winter gang will join.

Summer is a season of abundance in the field, which is made possible by artificial irrigation. When farmers in the Land of Israel depended solely on natural irrigation from rain, the summer agriculture was very limited. In places bereft of natural springs, fruit trees were planted: almonds, figs, olives, grapes and pomegranates. In areas situated under springs it was possible to run water through irrigation channels, enabling vegetable as well as other annual growth. Usually, spring water was collected into storage pools, from which the water was made to flow via channels to the vegetable beds. The limited spring water was distributed very strictly between the village families using a cane (a branch of the cane plant) which measured the water level. When the water level got lower and reached the next level of cane, the path to the first family’s plots was sealed, and a path to the plots belonging to the next family in line was opened.

But springs existed only in a small part of the agricultural areas in the country. Mostly it was “dry farming” which only worked during the wet winter season. The last batch of planting was done with the last rain showers in May. The crops thrived via the rainwater stored underground until July when the earth ceased from growth, waiting fervently for autumn and its rains. Today, thanks to long-distance pipelines and to artificial irrigation, we can enjoy both the growth force of the sun as well as the ready availability of irrigation water, and the field is flourishing.

During this season, our boxes abound with members of the Solanaceae family (tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and potatoes) and the gourds (cucumbers, fakus, melons, watermelons, butternut squash and pumpkin). The summer pods (lubia and Thai okra) and the onion family (leeks, scallions and onions), King Corn and the herbs deal well with summer under a shade net, along with the surviving greens – lettuce, Swiss chard, New Zealand spinach and scallions, also under the net.

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Oddly demonstrating how disconnected we are from nature, this season is one of vacations. From the beginning of July and all through August, many of you take temporary breaks in deliveries due to vacations. Of course, this makes perfect sense, with the kids on summer break and the rare chance to go away as a family. But considering the abundance in the field, I always feel a pang of disappointment for those who are away and missing this. So for all of you who stick around, at least you can be comforted by your boxes, overflowing with succulent, gleeful vegetables and fruits.

If you’re travelling, please give us advance notice of when your vacation is planned. You can temporarily hold your order via the order system. From the tab “הזמנה קבועה”- Standing Order, look for the green-shaded line [אם ברצונך     — להשעות את הזמנתך הקבוע לחצ/י כאןIf you wish to hold your Standing Order, click here] and click on the dates you’ll be gone. Make sure you set the date for the end of your break at least three days before your next desired delivery!

So for all of you vacationing, enjoy a restful and peaceful time. And to those of you who remain – Bon Appetit!

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Lettuce, basil/nana mint, tomatoes, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, Tripoli/Provence pumpkin slice, Thai lubia/okra/zucchini, corn, sweet red peppers/ melon. Small boxes only: leeks/scallions.

Large box, in addition: New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard, onions, parsley/coriander, butternut squash.

Wednesday: Lettuce, cilantro/nana mint, tomatoes, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, Tripoli/Provence pumpkin slice, Thai lubia/okra, zucchini/sweet red peppers, , corn. Small boxes only: leeks/scallions.

Large box, in addition: Basil/New Zealand spinach, butternut squash/melon, onions, parsley.

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 #257 August 17th-19th 2015

To all South Tel Avivians (Florentine/Shapiro and south, excluding the neighborhoods east of the Ayalon), we remind you that this week and next week, due to your delivery man’s vacation, your box will arrive on Wednesday instead of Monday. You will receive boxes on Wednesday, August 19 and August 27.

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I’m delighted to share with you a special project – a beautiful calendar made by Ilana and Davidi, old friends, colleagues, nursery keepers, harvesters, cooks and very talented visionaries. Their creation is called a “Home Garden Calendar,” and it accompanies you through each day in your home garden and the surrounding nature. Its sage words and captivating illustrations (from Ilana’s talented pen)  are full of knowledge, advice, instructions and excellent tips for any gardener, home farmer,  cook and eater, or anyone who wants to connect to the varying pace of life, seasons and climate in our tiny country.

This calendar is the product of a headstart campaign which they launched. In the end, they succeeded in raising a sum five times greater than they originally requested, allowing Ilana and Davidi to soar higher on the wings of their dream and vision, distributing calendars to schools, establishing a website accompanying the calendar, and a virtual seed bank to trade seeds of heritage. Now isn’t this one a happy, inspiring idea to cool off your hot summer days?

Take a look at their website for a peek at their calendar.

Thanks to our strong friendship, Ilana and Davidi are offering their calendar to Chubeza clients for 70 NIS each. Orders may be placed by sending us an e-mail. The calendars will arrive during the first two weeks of September. Quantity is limited, so hurry up and order while the calendars are still available. They also make a great holiday gift!

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Hot Town, Summer in the Field…

Hot as you are, so are our vegetables. Man, it’s hot. There are not enough words (or available brain cells) to describe the stress our vegetables have been undergoing over the last few weeks. Unlike the myth and literary flourish of blooming and blossoming and yielding over summer, and in contrast to the winter freeze (all probably true for Northern Europe), here summer is not unlike death. A mild form of death, that is.

True, the field is bursting with vegetables planted in spring and the beginning of summer, when there was still hope for a breeze. But for some weeks now, the vegetables have been painfully shouldering the summer burden, and it is heavy, let me tell you. From past experience we learned to plant the veggies early to prevent young sprouts and plants from having to confront the peak of heat at a youthful age, which is why we don’t plant or seed almost anything for nearly a month (around July). Sometimes, when there’s no choice, we plant and have to be very generous with water, put up a shade net and hope for the best…

Heavy duty irrigation and net shading are also beneficial to mature vegetables already growing in the field. We estimate the irrigation over summer to be approximately 30 percent more than we would use in a regular month, a little like our own drinking habits on hot days. We cover the earth, which helps to prevent evaporation, but on scorching days like these the water still evaporates, demanding us to provide additional irrigation. Human beings attempt to stay in the shade, and we try to give that pleasure to our beloved vegetables as well – a piece of shade under the black nets to allow some relief from the relentless sun. The roster of greens which merit this shade net includes herbs, lettuce, Swiss chard and spinach – any green courageous enough to dare to grow over summer deserves a medal and a bonus shade net reward…

Despite the irrigation and shade, for the past two years we have been sending our lettuce on a summer break. We discovered that despite our aspiration to grow lettuce all year long, there comes a time to let it go and take a break. Particularly since anyway the heads of lettuce look so sad and wilted at this time of year and take revenge on us by being summery bitter, we give them a few weeks off for good behavior. And also in order to meet them again very soon. This means we need to plant the lettuce varieties in the heat, but usually they grow and mature when the heat eases somewhat. However, this year, the lettuce plants arrived smack in the middle of the fiery inferno that struck two weeks ago. And since they were mature plants (the heat expedites their growth even in the nursery), we had to plant them at the peak of the brimstone. To make up for it, we gave them a double shading net. And still, we can tell how hard some of them are taking life, trying to figure out why on earth they were brought to grow in the sweltering Levantine. Please send your best cooling energies their way, and we hope they will soon get over it.

One of the symptoms of stress caused by calamities like this current heatwave is a decrease in the vegetables’ immunity and durability against viruses and leaf diseases which accompany the bugs in the field. Of course, some of the insects are full partners in the agriculture experience, like the various pollinators, but others (sometimes even the same beneficial insects) have a dark side to them… like the aphids which don’t exactly harm the plant, but rather transmit many viruses which dry up the leaves or harm the yield and fruit. The most sensitive to these viruses are the gourds, which is why we plant most of them early, harvesting butternuts and pumpkins, zucchinis and cucumbers at the beginning of summer. As of now, the cucumbers have entered the nethouse to take refuge from the insects. The various squashes have been harvested, and only the good ol’ zucchinis are left in the field. And yes, they are in pain.

In order to prevent the aphids from situating themselves on the plants, we use “physical pest control” – spraying the plants with mineral oil in order to create a smooth slippery layer that will prevent the aphids from latching on to the plant leaves. Similarly, plants can be protected in your home garden by spraying a diluted solution of dishwashing soap on those species that are prone to aphid attacks. This year, we used that method as a preventative treatment even before the aphids sat on the plants and attacked them, and we were pleased with the results (usually we only treat the plants after we begin to see signs of damage).

Our veteran crop, the Thai black-eyed pea, suffers the wrath of a different insect, the Southern Green Stink Bug (as it is termed in the U.S.) or Green Vegetable Bug (Australia and New Zealand) You’re probably familiar with that pest which sits on the flowers, sometimes on the pea itself, feasting on the nectar, juice or honey of the flower, or even the pod. After being left with hardly any peas to harvest last year, this year we used pyrethrum, made from chrysanthemums, to prevent the black-eyed peas from cruel consumption. In this case, too, we are satisfied with our success. We also began harvesting the peas at a younger stage, when they were relatively thin, to prevent untimely aging that can sometimes come upon the plant within a day in this type of heat. Which is why they may seem skinnier than usual. No, they’re not on a diet, only prettier and younger and as tasty as always.

    

So when you’re nibbling on a pepper or cucumber, caressing the soft skin of a summer eggplant, stir-frying okra or grilling pumpkin for a light dinner, take a moment to salute the courageous vegetables of our desert Holy Land, which grew over the hot summer days and nights, blossomed, were fertilized and ripened despite it all, just to be harvested, arrive in your boxes, and make your hearts sing. Give them a good word, sing them a merry song. They deserve it!

May we all have a calm, slow, wet and breezy week. Drink up, stay in the shade, and take care of yourselves.

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team, steadfastly holding those vegetables’ hands through the heat of the summer……….

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S SUMMER BOXES?

Monday: Eggplant/zucchini, coriander/mint (nana), basil/New Zealand spinach/thyme, pumpkin, tomatoes, corn, scallions/ garlic chives, red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, Thai beans/okra.

Large box, in addition: Onions/leeks, butternut squash, parsley.

This week some boxes will have purslane (Raglat HaGina in Hebrew, Rijla in Arabic) – this is the round leaves green, which have a lemony flavor. If you know it – surley you’d be thrilled, she’s full of healthy surprises for you. Here you can find some info and recipes.

Wednesday: red bell peppers/potatoes, cucumbers, parsley/cilantro, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, okra/Thai long beans, basil/purslane/New Zealand spinach, eggplants, pumpkin, corn, scalions.

Large box, in addition: Onions/leeks, butternut squash, mint (nana)/thyme

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!