The Shana B’agina calendar is more than Just a Calendar- it’s also a monthly guide for home gardening and foraging in nature in rhythm with the seasonal agriculture and local surroundings. A new month begins, and with it the changes in the field and forest, in the garden and nutrition.
Each page of the calendar offers an abundance of illustrated information:
- Professional tips for your home garden
- Seeding and planting times
- Growing plants from seeds to produce
- Seasonal recipes and food conservation
- Introducing the wonderful world of bees
- A QR scan code on each page offers expanded information
- Moon and sun times and specific “green” dates.
- Environment-friendly printing: ecologic paper and print colors.
- Calendar measurements (when open): 34X45cm
One calendar: 75 NIS | Two calendars: 140 NIS | Three calendars: 210 NIS | Five calendars: 340 NIS | Eight calendars: 540 NIS | Ten calendars: 650 NIS
Order via our order system under “Chubeza vegetables and fruits”
Wishing you a year of growth!
Due to next Sunday being the fast of Tisha’ B’Av, we will prepare the paperwork for our Monday delivery on Thursday night. For this reason, our order system for Monday, July 23rd deliveries will close by this Thursday (July 19th) at 9:00 PM. Please make any orders or instructions by then. Thank you!
For those of you fasting, may it be easy and meaningful, and may we know only happiness and good tidings.
Red All Over – Our Tomatoes, Part II
In last week’s newsletter, we regaled you with the historical and geographical journeys of the tomato. This week, we will focus on our very own tomatoes growing in Chubeza’s fields.
Naturally, tomatoes have been with our farm from the very first year. The tomato’s centrality in the Israeli kitchen, the Israeli salad and garden made it a “must” in our weekly boxes. However, we soon discovered that what is taken for granted in the kitchen does not always come about so easily in the field.
Our first year, we grew tomatoes of various shapes and colors. We had the familiar round tomato and attempted growing traditional types, like the Brandywine tomato – a huge flattened tomato, soft and very sweet, in red and yellow. This is a unique tomato I met in California, but after one season we realized that Brandywine is just not practical for a weekly appearance in boxes in Israel. True, they grew bountifully on the bushes, but chances were slim indeed that a soft tomato would survive in your vegetable box without reaching your kitchen bruised and injured.
So we disposed of our romantic notions and realized we needed to choose a more sensible tomato… Over the years we tried growing elongated tomatoes, big flattened tomatoes and round cluster tomatoes. We grew them on bushes and on vines, large tomatoes and diminutive cherry tomatoes, but we made sure to pick the types that’ll be firm and delicious all the way from the field to your salads.
Most of the years at Chubeza, we grew our crops, tomatoes included, solely in open fields. The first years were somewhat reasonable, but from year to year the ravages of the field increased. We sometimes painfully reminisce about the years we planted so many tomato bushes that yielded so few tomatoes. In the open field, the tomatoes suffered from leaf diseases and other calamities, specifically the tomato yellow leaf curl virus that brought along the tobacco whitefly – a serial tomato terminator. Moreover, since growing tomatoes in an open field is only possible during summertime, we had to purchase tomatoes over the rest of the year from organic hothouse growers to add to your boxes.
But six years ago, we set our eyes on an abandoned hothouse located near our fields, and decided to renovate it and attempt to grow our own vegetables there. The renovations and rehabilitation process was long, demanding much sweat of the brow to prepare the structure for organic growing. After many hard months, it stood ready for the challenge, and we set out with throbbing hearts to plant our first tomatoes. Because of the great difficulty in growing tomatoes (and cucumbers) in an open field, their “must include” status in your boxes made them the first pioneers to receive the comfort and protection of the hothouse net. And so it was.
Growing vegetables in a hothouse is very different from the open field. Though the open field leaves our crops much more exposed to injury, we know we can rely on the natural balances existing there in the great outdoors. Yet as soon as the vegetables are planted in a covered structure, disconnected from the environment, we are the ones responsible for maintaining the balance, restoring it when it goes awry, providing pollination, natural enemies, nutrition and fertilization precise for each specific need, etc. This was a new and significant challenge, and even now, several years later, we still encounter trials and tribulations and we are constantly learning. On the other hand, the dense mesh net that covers the crops does supply important, crucial protection for tomatoes and cucumbers (and the peppers that later joined them).
Still, almost every year we make a stab at growing some beds in the open fields during the early planting season. Sometimes it works, while other times – this year for example – not so well… This year we tried to grow Hanit and Tamar tomatoes in the open field, good sustainable types we know and count on, but the unstable spring weather was not in our favor… The heatwaves in the beginning were destructive, and our open field beds were afflicted by powdery mildew which struck the leaves and ultimately dried them till they withered. There was no yield of these tomatoes whatsoever this year, unfortunately.
Meanwhile, back in the growth tunnels and hothouses, we are currently growing the big tomatoes (Tory and Brono), cluster tomatoes named olympiacos and ikram, and the Ornela. In the little cherry tomato department, we grow the round tival and the elongated candy-sweet lobelo. Big and small tomatoes are grown the same way, with the main difference being narrower bushes for the cherry tomatoes, facilitating their being planted with smaller spaces in between.
The tomato is a tough plant which demands nourishment from fertile soil rich in earthly resources, particularly potassium, in order to joyfully spring forth and create a happy green bush. Lack of potassium creates a soft, powdery tomato. Since potassium is not our soil’s strongest trait, we provide a potassium additive prior to the tomato crop’s growth, followed by melting potassium into the irrigation system once they’re developing. The tomato bushes growing in our hothouses are the “climbing” type. That is, they don’t do the climbing themselves like grapevines, cucumbers or peas, but rather are very long and tall bushes which require trellising – a support for their length so they do not crawl on the earth. Our method of trellising is called “Dutch trellising” in which we tie a “climbing rope” from the roof of the structure for the plant to wind itself around, remaining erect and growing upward. We prune the bushes to keep them upright by removing the side stems, leaving only one central stem which thickens, strengthens and continues to grow upward. When the plant becomes too tall for us to reach, we release a bit of rope rappelling-style in order to bend the head of the bush and allow it some more growing space. (The lower part of the plant, which does not bear fruit at this stage, takes some time off to rest …)
The bushes are treated like pampered babies: in wintertime, we spread plastic on the roof and walls to protect them from the cold, and during summertime it’s a mesh net preventing overheating and warding off pests. We spread a shade net above their heads to lower the temperature and prevent heatstroke. And since we locked them up in the castle like princesses, we bring in the suitors – beehive after beehive is invited into the structures, buzzing with residents who joyfully pollinate the plants.
But even well-maintained castles are sometimes infiltrated by varmits. Though the dreaded tobacco whitefly stayed out, the cheeky Tuta Absoluta moth can manage to creep into the growth tunnels, nibble away at the leaves, leaving only the epidermis like a sheer curtain, and weaken the plant in the process by damaging the photosynthesis receptors. In addition, the Tuta moth stings the fruit, leaving a tiny black entry point – the mark of a dark tunnel dug into the tomato.
How do we prevent this catastrophic scenario? First and foremost, we make every effort to keep the growth house and its surrounding as clean as possible. Prior to a new challenging growth, we try to grow a round of Brassicaceaes, which provide natural disinfection together with stability and balance. As soon as we spot moth damage, we attempt to collect the infested leaves and distance them from the growth house, while laying traps for the males via a pheromone trap: plates containing pheromones and water. The males are attracted to the pheromone and are trapped in the water. The traps are beneficial in reducing the moth presence and controlling the number of moths in the tunnel. Biologic pest control is based on toxins produced from various bacterium (Bacillus thuringiensis Var. Kurstaki או Saccharopolyspora spinosa) which work on the larva’s nerve system. It’s a complex challenge but we’re not alone in facing it, which is why so many brains are trying to arrive at a creative solution. We look forward to one day announcing that a solution has been found for controlling this pest (till the next one comes along….).
So there you have it: the chubby rosy-faced tomato goes through a lot from the moment it is planted in the fertile specially-prepared soil till it arrives at its red fullness ready for harvest: it’s protected, cultivated, tied up to stand erect, fertilized, watered, and caressed by sunrays. It is sought after by charming bees, attacked by ruthless, cunning moths, while unruffled, it continues to patiently crawl its way to the sweet ripeness you meet in your boxes.
I would say the tomato deserves one great big round of applause, wouldn’t you?
May we enjoy a peaceful and pleasant week with lots and lots of sunshine, water and happy family time,
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai and the Chubeza team
WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?
Monday: Bell peppers, slice of pumpkin/butternut squash, parsley/coriander, cucumbers, eggplant/garlic, tomatoes, Thai yard-long beans/okra/zucchini, corn, cherry tomatoes, Amoro pumpkin/acorn squash, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard.
Large box, in addition: Onions, melon/ potatoes, lettuce.
FRUIT BOXES: Grapes, mango, banana, pears.
Wednesday: Bell peppers, slice of pumpkin/butternut squash, parsley/coriander, cucumbers, eggplant/potatoes, garlic/onions, tomatoes, corn, cherry tomatoes, Amoro pumpkin/acorn squash, , lettuce.
Large box, in addition: Thai yard-long beans/okra, zucchini/melon, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard.
FRUIT BOXES: Grapes, mango, pears. Small boxes: banana, Large boxes: apples.