January 31-February 2nd 2022 – Portrait of the potato as a mirror of its native land

Over the past few weeks, we have discussed the weather and the various ways it influences the vegetables in the field. In this week’s segment, we shall attempt to shed light on the surprising phenomenon we encountered this year with our autumn potatoes. (And why are they coined “autumn” when winter is here full blast?)

In Israel, potatoes are grown in two seasons: the autumn seeding, September-October, ripening and harvested from December to April, and those seeded from January-February, ripening and picked during May and June. The rest of the year here, we eat spring potatoes from cold storage. The potatoes seeded in autumn are called “autumn potatoes,” and those picked in springtime are, of course, “spring potatoes.”

Potatoes are tubers (not roots!). If the roots are the foundations of the house anchoring it to the earth, the tubers are the basement, where important things are stored for a time-of-need. The tubers are actually a segment, or several segments, of the stem, used for accumulation – a type of storage bin for important nutrients (except water). And as such, the tubers are usually thick, round and bereft of the stem-color-green attained from chlorophyll. The base of the tuber shoots out roots, while its top sends stems, branches and leaves upward. This is what it looks like:

As the tuber is in fact a subsoil stem, when it meets daylight, the chlorophyll begins to develop and turns the tuber green. This is not something we want to happen, which is why we make a little mound at the base of the stems to keep moisture in the roots that prevent the earth from cracking, and to protect the tubers from light. As the potatoes grow, we mound them once again to add some expansion space. Over the past few weeks, we inserted our pitchforks into the mounds to crumble them, extracting beautiful, fresh yellow potatoes. After extraction, a fresh tuber is in a comatose state due to its growth inhibitors. After a while, these substances subside and growth material develops, which makes the tuber bloom and sprout. In order to keep it asleep, we store it in dark, refrigerated conditions.

The potato is the winter representative of the Solanum tuberosums,  who are cousins of the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Unlike these guys who enjoy the heat, the potato needs cool weather to yield tubers. High temperatures will make the plant grow tall and prominent, but with hardly any tubers underground, and sometimes none at all. A too-cold temperature will hinder the plant’s ability to grow. Small and weak, the tubers are left bereft of a source of energy for growth. Aggressive frost, too, can completely wipe out nice looking, elegant potato plants (speaking from painful experience). The ideal solution: moderate, cool weather – not too cold, not too hot. In short, an Israeli winter.

Except that this year,  the winter was not moderate at all. Our dear potatoes, seeded at the end of September, faced challenging upheavals over the three to four months of their development. To refresh your memory, as we are currently soaked in puddles of rain and snow, here’s a short recap of the last few months: at the very end of autumn, in mid-November when our potatoes were just a month old, the field faced difficult days of dry heatwaves, dust winds and high temperatures. We had to generously irrigate in order for the potatoes to survive, but without overdoing it, as excess liquid can create diseases and be disastrous for the potatoes (just you wait and see…). Then again, extreme dryness is problematic. The strong east winds dried everything up in minutes, forcing us to find the balance between the contradictory needs of our vegetables.

Two weeks later, the rain came pouring and then continued to visit regularly, with nice sunny days in-between. As winter proceeded with more rainy days, the field gulped down nice quantities of water as cold temperatures reigned. The young potatoes indeed matured, but while we may have forgotten their complex heatwave-battling adolescence, some of them kept the memory in their flesh, in the form of cracks and rifts in the bulbs:

This rift happens to the bulbs when they grow in unstable conditions, usually an irregular supply of water, when dry days turn wet. The bulbs that grew in dry conditions are suddenly showered with water, spurring accelerated growth causing them to ‘explode’ and split. These rifts often start at the tip of the bulb and can expand horizontally. As the bulbs mature, the surface within the crack develops its own peeling, like that covering the rest of the bulb. Despite their cracked exterior, these potatoes are delicious. To avoid the task of getting out the mud within the crack, slice the potato along the crack and voila – problem solved.

Something else you might have noticed in some of the recent potatoes are dark spots at the core of the bulb. The potato can look great on the outside, but when sliced it displays strange-looking brown spots. This occurrence is called “internal browning” or “blackheart”, caused by a lack of oxygen in the center of the bulb. This oxygen deficiency creates suffocation, loss of breath and cell death. The damaged tissue blackens, and that is what you see at the center of the potato.

But why, do you ask, do our potatoes lack oxygen? Because they are buried deep in the saturated soil. The water in some parts of the bed doesn’t drain well. The deep ends of the bed are not sufficiently ventilated, creating little puddles that fill up the air pores in the soil, creating an oxygen shortage.

The center of the potato bore the brunt, as the oxygen was cut off at a later stage of its development. Being farthest from the surface, the core got the least oxygen, unlike the external parts of the bulbs which received sufficient air and grew well. The damage only affected the central inner parts, which is why the spots appear on the inside. Thanks to the low temperatures slowing down their breath, the situation wasn’t that bad. Things could be much worse if the bulbs are flooded or their oxygen is cut off at high temperatures. It’s important to understand that the darker parts do not indicate rotting or a disease. Even the potato parts that aren’t necessarily attractive are good for use.

These two phenomena are interesting because these are physiological problems, i.e., not caused by an insect, contamination or fungus, but rather by uncomfortable conditions, be it weather or the state of the soil. The potatoes respond to this stress by a change in shape and color. Of course, we cannot control the weather, but we try to do everything in our power to improve the conditions for our potatoes as they develop and grow.

Here’s where we come full circle: Remember how careful we were not to over-irrigate the potatoes during the heatwaves? Well, now you know why. Too much water will cause this problem (and others), too little water causes other problems, thus the game of quantities is a gentle dance of finding the right balance.

We are also constantly trying to improve soil ventilation in problematic areas. Our earth is valley Terra Rossa soil – heavy, thick soil that absorbs water and holds on tight. This is a great advantage, because the vital nutrients remain in the earth and don’t easily wash away (as in sandier soil). But in very rainy seasons when it’s challenging to keep the soil ventilated, we help out by adding high-quality compost that boosts the soil’s texture and ventilation. Every few seasons, we use a deep soil loosening plow that penetrates the earth without flipping and mixing the other layers (not recommended, as the upper 30 centimeters of the soil are the most fertile and it would be a pity to drive them deeper). The plow loosens the consolidated layers that hardened under those fertile 30 cm of soil, allowing better drainage during wintertime.

And yet, as you can see, in stormy seasons such as this one, there are major challenges which we are not always able to overcome. But we always strive to meet the challenges and improve.

Store potatoes in a cool, dark place.

As mentioned, potatoes turn green when they are exposed to light for any length of time. The green hue is the result of the chlorophyll, a natural plant pigment which is tasteless and harmless. The problem with green potatoes is that in the areas where the chlorophyll develops, an alkaloid called solanine can also develop, tasting bitter and toxic when consumed in large quantities. A greater concentration of solanine is found in the peeling or just below it, which is why older potatoes should be peeled. Cooking or steaming them reduces the solanine by 60-70%, as compared to a raw potato. The greening is caused by light, but also temperature, age, species and ripeness. Light potatoes turn green faster than red ones.

Potatoes keep quite well at a temperature between 8-28 degrees Celsius. A higher temperature will cause the tubers to sprout, wither and rot. At a lower temperature (in the refrigerator, or at 6 degrees and lower), the starch within the potato turns to sugar, giving the potatoes a sweetish taste and causing them to burn faster when fried.

Read this poetic post from the charming blog Shira Achila about potatoes and their potential, complete with a nice recipe (Hebrew). Enjoy!

May we have a wintery-but-moderate week, perfect potato weather. Wishing you a good week,

Alon and Bat Ami, Dror, Orin and the Chubeza team.

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A reminder: The frigid cold has a profound effect on the cucumbers and tomatoes. It significantly slows down their growth…they simply don’t move. So this week there were not enough cucumbers to put in your boxes. We attempted to buy cucumbers from other organic growers, but unsurprisingly, with every single one, even those in the Arava, nothing is moving. Instead, we succeeded in buying sweet, yummy red bell peppers, which will arrive in your boxes in place of the cucumbers. We await the accelerated growth of our bright green friends.

Monday: Potatoes, cauliflower/slice of pumpkin, Swiss chard/kale/ broccoli greens/tatsoi, daikon/baby radishes/turnips, fresh onions, broccoli, sweet red peppers, tomatoes, carrots,  celery/celeriac. Small boxes only: lettuce/baby greens (mesclun mix)

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichoke/garden or snow peas, cabbage/sweet potatoes, leeks/beets/parsley root, parsley/coriander/arugula/rakula.

FRUIT BOXES: Red apples, oranges/pomelit/lemons, clementinas, avocado, bananas.

Wednesday: Potatoes, cauliflower/cabbage/kohlrabi, Swiss chard/kale/broccoli greens/spinach, fresh onions, broccoli, sweet red peppers, tomatoes, carrots,  celery/celeriac, red leaf lettuce, parsley/coriander/arugula/rakula.

Large box, in addition: Snow peas/sweet potatoes/slice of pumpkin, leeks/parsley root, daikon/baby radishes/turnips/beets, .

FRUIT BOXES: Red apples, oranges/pomelit, clementinas/lemons, avocado, bananas.

January 24th-26th 2022 – Frigid Air

Slow, Slow, Fresh Fount

Slow, slow, fresh fount, keep time with my salt tears;
Yet slower, yet, O faintly, gentle springs:
List to the heavy part the music bears,
Woe weeps out her division, when she sings.
Droop, herbs and flowers,
Fall grief in showers;
Our beauties are not ours:
O, I could still,
Like melting snow upon some craggy hill,
Drop, drop, drop, drop,
Since nature’s pride is, now, a withered daffodil.

Ben Jonson

These past few weeks have been freeeeeeezing! During the day we are mummified in warm clothes, rubbing our hands together again and again, jumping up and down to warm our toes… Even on sunny days, it’s hard to defrost, and most of the time any warmth is temporary for just a couple of hours in the afternoon, after which the frigid air descends upon us with a vengeance. The vegetables in the field are also feeling the cold weather and acting as if they’ve been placed into a refrigerator. (Actually, the temperatures are pretty close to a refrigerator’s. Sometimes walking into our great big fridge feels like we’re just outdoors.)

So what does lettuce do in the cold weather? Just like the bears, she withdraws into herself, cutting back on energy, and sinks into a deep, hibernating sleep… The vegetables are growing so s-l-o-w-l-y that it seems as if nearly nothing has changed from week to week. Though the carrot and beet both store their sugar in the bulbs of their roots and we get to enjoy their wintery sweetness, they do take their time thickening up and getting ready to be harvested. It’s like everything is happening in slow motion, as if someone is slowing down the speed of the projector. We work hard in the field, but upon our return the next day, it seems like nothing has really changed.

We’re familiar with this time of year and always attempt to prepare for it ahead of time, which is why over the warmer months of autumn we were very busy seeding and planting, getting things ready before the cold weather sets in. But now, from December to February, we halt the planting. This, after realizing that the vegetables planted and seeded in the very cold weather do not really come along, and that there is nothing to be gained by plunging new plants or seeds into the cold soil (even when it’s in the 10-degree vicinity). If we plant them now or at the end of the month, it’ll still be the same. So we wait and try to remember that the days are growing longer (very slowly….. you get the idea by now…) and soon there will be more hours of light and perhaps even warmer afternoons. In the meantime, the cold makes it easier with the weeding chores, as even weeds grow a little slower. We try to move around a lot, preferably at a swift pace, just to warm up a tad.

Unsurprisingly, the plants most influenced by the cold weather are those who prefer warmth. Our cucumbers and tomatoes, for instance, are relatively protected under plastic-covered growth houses where they are isolated to an extent from the harsh cold. Last week, we had one night of frost – 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, and because frozen water expands, it bursts open the plant arteries and damages them.

There are three main types of frost:

Radiation frost is the most common frost that occurs on clear (cloudless), dry (low humidity) and quiet (windless) nights. In these cases, the air temperature near the surface and below is nearly at zero, and the local temperature drops. This type of frost is dangerous in valleys and plains such as ours.

A second type is the Advective Frost which occurs at low temperatures, created by cold air that blows into the region along with rain/hail, or right afterwards from somewhere else. With this type of frost, the higher areas are also affected by the cold air.

The worst of the three is Combined frost: a continuous and extreme event that combines radiative and advective frost. This type is characterized by very low daytime and nighttime temperatures and low humidity. It lasts longer, thus inflicting more severe damage on agricultural growths.

When the forecast called for frost one night last week, we added a shade net over the tomato and cucumbers’ growth houses, providing an additional layer of isolation and preventing the warmer (or rather – less frozen) temperatures from escaping. We also opened the flap on the lower side of the premises to allow the extremely cold air that accumulates in the lowest part to flow outward.

Happily, the frost wasn’t too extreme, and the cucumbers and tomatoes had a peaceful night. Under the growth house, we covered the greens in cloth to protect them from the frost, and they too were fine. We don’t worry about the strong winter crops – cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli, kohlrabi and fennel, or the roots that grow under protective soil. The only one who suffered some damage is the snow pea, which grows high in the open field, and is thus impossible to swathe in cloth. The frost created a whitish net on some of the pods:

Though it doesn’t completely ruin the poor peas, we definitely recommend eating them quickly and not keeping them shivering in the refrigerator.

The cold weather affects the cucumbers and tomatoes, significantly slowing down their development. They are simply standing still. Thus, we had fewer cucumbers to add to your boxes this week. We attempted to buy cucumbers from other organic growers, but unsurprisingly, we’re all suffering the same shortage (even in the Arava). Instead, we were able to purchase yummy sweet red peppers which replace the cucumbers this week. We now await a major growth spurt in our green pals.

This week, your boxes will also include broccoli greens. Usually we only harvest the broccoli, leaving the greens in the field. But, like all other vegetables, the “regular” leaves grow slowly and rest a lot. When the sun comes out, they open one eye and try to shake off their slumber, but at this stage it resembles my attempts to wake up my daughters in the morning (“I heard you and i’m getting up, it only looks like i’m still under the covers”). In my experience, it takes a lot more rays of sun and convincing and reminders and scolding for the leaves to break into a growth dance. In all fairness, we have been getting in their way a lot by cutting away at them to place greens in your boxes… In the interim, the broccoli leaves, planted in the autumn and growing on the strong bushes, were able to grow undisturbed and act as solar thermal collectors that yielded excellent broccoli inflorescence. Now, after the broccoli has been harvested, we decided to pick fresh bundles of its greens.

The broccoli greens in your boxes are mature leaves. Use them as you would Swiss chard or kale, but note that they are thicker and hence should be cooked longer. (They are most similar to kale in flavor and use). Their nutrition value is very high, rich in vitamins A, B-complex, C, and minerals (iron and calcium).

May we have a warm week, and may we see snow in Jerusalem, a song in our heart and a warm beverage (or two) in hand.

Wishing you a great wintery week,

From all of us at Chubeza

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S COLLLLLLLD BOXES?

A reminder: The frigid cold has a profound effect on the cucumbers and tomatoes. It significantly slows down their growth…they simply don’t budge. So this week there were not enough cucumbers to put in your boxes. We attempted to buy cucumbers from other organic growers, but unsurprisingly, with every single one, even those in the Arava, nothing is moving. Instead, we succeeded in buying sweet, yummy red bell peppers, which will arrive in your boxes in place of the cucumbers. We await the accelerated growth of our bright green friends.

Monday: Potatoes, celery/celeriac/parsley root, cauliflower/cabbage, Swiss chard/spinach/tatsoi/ broccoli greens, kohlrabi/beets/ fennel/ turnips, fresh onions/leeks, broccoli, red sweet peppers, tomatoes, carrots,  lettuce.

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichoke/fresh fava beans/garden or snow peas, daikon/baby radishes, parsley/ciantro.

FRUIT BOXES: Apples (red/green/yellow), oranges/red grapefruit/lemons, clementinas, avocado, bananas.

Wednesday: Potatoes, celery/celeriac/parsley root, cauliflower/cabbage, Swiss chard/spinach/tatsoi/ broccoli greens, fresh onions/leeks, broccoli, red sweet peppers, tomatoes, carrots,  lettuce, parsley/ciantro/arugula.

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichoke/fresh fava beans/garden or snow peas, daikon/baby radishes/beets, kohlrabi/fennel/turnips.

FRUIT BOXES: Apples (red/green/yellow), oranges/red grapefruit, clementinas, avocado, bananas, lemons.

February 3rd-5th 2020 – Singing after the rain

Tu B’Shvat Treats

A special offer from Melissa of Mipri Yadeha: buy two fruit leather rolls or dry fruit and receive the third one free (only this week and next)

The Ish shel Lechem bakery will prepare special Tu B’Shvat bread this week and next week with yummy nuts and dried fruits in a 70% wheat flour dough.

Happy Birthday, Nature!

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Last Thursday we had the opportunity to actually plant our first spring plants (!) before once again getting drenched by showers… So this newsletter is blessedly rainy and muddy yet once again.

What is this rain descending from above, anyway? If you ask the Polynesians, they would tell you these are the tears of Rangi, the sky and the father of all things, mourning the separation from his wife, Papa, the earth. The Druze will tell you that on winter nights, along with the raindrops are salamanders that fall from the heavens, named “Abu Raflin” (father of puddles), which is why they are black as night and the lightning shines yellow spots on them. If you ask scientists, they will explain that vapor has condensed into tiny drops that join together to create greater drops. Once they become too heavy, gravity makes them fall, collecting more drops on their way down.  Contrary to all we know, the raindrop is not at all shaped like a drop… Raindrops are either round or elliptic, sometimes oblate. They descend to the earth extremely rapidly, at over 7.5 meters per second, a surprising performance for such a little drop which could be as miniscule as only a few millimeters.

In our family, we have a tradition of extreme loyalty to the rain. When it falls, we do not run. We allow it to tickle our nape, to trickle down our ears. Even our little Noga has already learned to put out her hand and let the rain wet it, and that the best thing you can do is lift your face upwards, open your mouth wide, and lick those wet and cold raindrops. Or, you can opt to just sing in the rain.

On rainy muddy days, and a day or two afterwards, we try to reduce our work in the field. The soil does not like being fondled when saturated with water. This is true especially for the heavy Chubeza terra rossa soil, characteristic to the area. As you’ve noted in your boxes, this is thick, red clay-like soil, rich in iron oxides and common to the mountainous areas of limestone and dolomite in which the weathering creates clay. As the rain washes it off the mountains, it slowly accumulates in the adjacent valleys, including our very own Ayalon valley. This red soil is also the material comprising terracotta, and it is the thinnest soil material (tiny grains smaller than 0.004 mm). When this earth is wet, it retains water and becomes extremely muddy. It also retains several minerals, which is why the soil is found in various colors in nature. As it dries up (relatively slowly), it shrinks and naturally crumbles into small lumps, allowing root, water and air to penetrate. This is great planting soil, with pores, ventilation and water retention abilities, in addition to being rich and fertile thanks to storing such oxides as iron, potassium, calcium and even nitrogen.

However, if you play with its clumps while wet, the soil’s hidden desires to become art awaken and it hardens and stiffens, complicating the seed’s ability to burst and the plant within it to grow. Which is why we try to take a break and resume planting and weeding only after the moisture is more or less absorbed and the earth is not so muddy. Prior to the rains, we were able to prepare the soil for end-of-the-winter planting by plowing open the land with a chisel-plow, a long fork that pierces the earth to make deep notches into which the rain can permeate. (In nature, the roots of trees and other plants with deep roots are used as natural “drain openers,” but in a field of annual plants like ours, we need to do this artificially.) Upon carrying out this procedure, we distributed compost and turned over the earth, but after the many rains that re-constricted it, we must loosen the ground anew to crumble up the earthen clods to prepare a proper platform for the new plants.

In its current saturated condition, we will not loosen the earth, but to enable planting in a timely fashion (last week), we needed to somehow ventilate the earth. This is where Gabi came to the rescue, as usual, with a great idea: he borrowed a blade clod-crusher, one with short and straight blades allowing it to only crumble the soil’s top layer without penetrating deeper into the wetter layers so as to prevent over-disturbance of the mud. Thus, after light cultivation we spread out the cover sheets and very gently planted the first zucchinis of 2020!

Wishing us all a nice sunny week with dry skies that allow us to plant again before the weekend’s big-time return of the rain.  We will appreciate your adding your hopes to ours in a Chubeza-style “rain pause” dance.

Shavua Tov to all,

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

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/New Zealand spinach/kale, broccoli, scallions/onions/leeks, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery/celeriac, carrots, parsley/mizuna/arugula, lettuce, cabbage/cauliflower. Small boxes only: Kohlrabi/fennel.

Large box, in addition: Jerusalem artichokes/peas, daikon/baby radishes, beets, totsoi

FRUIT BOXES: Pomelot/oranges, bananas, kiwi/avocado, clementinot 

Wednesday: Swiss chard/totsoi/New Zealand spinach/kale, broccoli, scallions/onions/leeks, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, parsley/mizuna/arugula, lettuce, cabbage/cauliflower, red beets, celery/celeriac.

Large box, in addition: Kohlrabi/fennel, daikon/baby radishes, Jerusalem artichokes/peas.

FRUIT BOXES: Oranges/red apples, bananas, avocado, clementinot 

December 2nd-4th 2019 – Here comes the rain again

The Breaking of the Drought

Listen! ­—it rains; it rains!
The prayer of the grass is heard;
The thirsty ground drinks eagerly
As a famished man eats bread.
The moan of the trees is hushed,
And the violets under the banks
Lift up their heads so gratefully,
And smilingly give thanks.

-Frederick J. Atwood

On Monday morning we were greeted by fields washed with rain, saturated earth breathing a sigh of relief, and invigorated plants, dotted with raindrops. What a thrill! Three hours of calm rain fell across our fields by night, and 9 millimeters of water accumulated in our water gauge. Very impressive and incredibly encouraging. Naturally we need more rain, and await the arrival of the next round, God willing, over this week, in just a few days. Meanwhile, we’re basking in the beauty of our wet vegetables and the clear, crisp air.

Come enjoy along with us:

And with the blessing of the rain – also a Mazal tov blessing to our English translators – grandma Melanie and auntie Aliza, for the birth of a new granddaughter and niece!  May she be blessed with happiness and healthy growth!

And may we be blessed with a nice wintery week, with more rain to fall, as we breathe deeply of the fresh, clear air. Shavua tov!

Alon, Bat-Ami, Dror, Orin, Yochai and the entire Chubeza team, waiting anxiously to wallow in mud

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach/totsoi, beets/eggplant, sweet potatoes, scallions/celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli/ cauliflower/cabbage, carrots, parsley/dill, lettuce/arugula/mizuna. Small boxes only: Lubia Thai yard-long beans/okra/Jerusalem artichokes.

Large box, in addition: Fennel/turnips, daikon/baby radishes, kohlrabi, red/green bell peppers.

FRUIT BOXES: Red apples, bananas/avocados, oranges/ red pomelit, clementinas.

Wednesday: Fennel/kohlrabi, turnips/daikon/baby radishes, Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach/totsoi, beets, scallions/celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, parsley, lettuce/arugula/mizuna, lubia Thai yard-long beans/okra/Jerusalem artichokes/eggplant.

Large box, in addition: Sweet potatoes, broccoli/cauliflower/cabbage, red/green bell peppers.

FRUIT BOXES: Red apples, bananas/avocados, oranges, clementinas.

November 18th-20th 2019 – Craving rain

TO YOUR HEALTH!

Rose of “Shoreshei Tzion” sends you this easy recipe for pure and tasty Almond Milk using Shoreshei Tzion’s outstanding Almond Butter.

Most of the packaged almond drinks on the market are essentially filled with rice milk, sunflower oil, sugars and other low-cost fillings. The healthiest and purest almond drink is the one you prepare at home!
Try this wonderful 2-minute, super easy recipe today:

Ingredients:
4 T. almond butter (Shoreshei Tzion’s Almond Butter is 100% sprouted and cold-pressed)
3 cups water
2 – 4 seeded dates (optional)

Preparation:
Pour the water into a blender, add the almond butter and dates. Mix until smooth, making certain that the dates are well blended.
Pour the Almond Milk into an insulated container and keep refrigerated for up to four days.
Delicious with grains, granola, chia pudding and/or cashew butter.
This recipe is ideal for use with Shoreshei Tzion’s other spreads, including Hazelnut Butter of Cashew Butter.
For a sweeter, more chocolaty drink, try Shoreshei Tzion’s Hazelnut Chocolate Butter.


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It’s not over till the old man is snoring

The Rain

Pitter-patter, raindrops,
Falling from the sky;
Here is my umbrella
To keep me safe and dry!
When the rain is over,
And the sun begins to glow,
Little flowers start to bud,
And grow and grow and grow!

– Anon

If there was anything we wished to shout out to the strong winds of this past week, it’s Raindrops, please come pitter-patter on our umbrella! Now!!!

Aside from warmer-than-usual temperatures (which have thankfully dropped a bit this week) and a critical shortage of moisture from the skies, the past few weeks have flown by – literally. Everything flew: the plastic crates piled high near the packing house, the crates that collect our harvested veggies, the empty cartons you returned to us. The shade nets still protecting several vegetable beds and the plastic covers over the growth houses sway noisily in the strong gusts, and anything we put down on the ground immediately fills up with dust and sand.  There were moments last week when we felt that the air was so thick that we’d have to physically force it open to walk through.

Aside from the discomfort, these winds are also drying up our greens, most of which are already winter vegetables which desperately need moisture and are painfully grappling with the dryness. Every ounce of morning dew dries up in just moments due to the winds. We open the irrigation system to water those plants who need to grow even if the weather is not cooperating, and pine away for a change of winds (literally!) and the blessing of rain, which unfortunately is nowhere on the horizon of the current forecasts. So far, we have had 18 mm of precipitation, not enough for autumn in the field. W we desperately need hydration. We can only dream of watching little flowers starting to bud “and grow and grow and grow.”

But since we plant by calendar, our fields are switching from summer to winter, with only a few summer crops still waiting to be picked. The eggplants, peppers and lubia black-eyed peas are producing their final yields, the okra is nearly gone, as are the cherry tomatoes whose quantity lessens by the day. The pumpkins from which you receive slices were gathered at the end of summer into our cute little pumpkin shed at the end of the field. Each week we grab another group of them and share slices with you, as the pile dwindles away. Sweet potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes, both of which we began harvesting at the end of the month, have hit the season half-way mark and will join the boxes in month or two, after which they too will bid us farewell for now.

On the other end of the field, the winter veggies are celebrating as they take over the surface in the form of cabbages and broccoli in various states of growth – from baby plants to mature ones that will crown with their beautiful buds or head of tight curls for you to nibble on. Fennel and kohlrabi, celery and scallion – themselves thin and gentle (picture the wild wind blowing a bed of such wispy, delicate plants) while a small distance away their older brothers are thickening and fattening up, rounding and accumulating the crunchiness indicating they are ready to be picked. Meanwhile, six feet under, the various summer root vegetables lie in waiting: carrot and beets, celery root, parsley roots, turnips and radishes. At least they are somewhat protected within the soil as they shoot out their green tendrils to face the winds.

The winds are supposed to die down a tad over the next few days, and hopefully the ensuing silence will allow our cry to echo loud and clear: Raindrops, please come! NOW, ALREADY!!

Although we’ve lacked being showered us with actual rain, unfortunately last week we were “showered” by unheavenly cascades when sirens wailed in the Ayalon Valley preceeded by actual hits. We pray and long for quiet to return, and for only raindrops to descend upon us from the skies.  Wishing everyone a calm, relaxed weekend,

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Yochai, Orin and the entire Chubeza clan

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Beets, sweet potatoes/pumpkin, eggplant/red bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower/broccoli/cabbage, carrots, parsley/coriander/dill, lettuce/mizuna, scallions/celery, fennel/kohlrabi. Special gift: Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach.

Large box, in addition: Lubia Thai yard-long beans/Iraqi lubia/Jerusalem artichoke, totsoi/arugula, baby radishes/daikon/turnips.

FRUIT BOXES: Pomegranates, apples, clementinas, oranges.

Wednesday: Beets, eggplant/red bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower/broccoli/cabbage, carrots, parsley/coriander/dill, lettuce/arugula, scallions/celery, fennel/daikon/turnips. Small boxes only: Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach.

Large box, in addition: Lubia Thai yard-long beans/Iraqi lubia/Jerusalem artichoke, sweet potatoes/pumpkin, totsoi/mizuna, baby radishes/kohlrabi.

FRUIT BOXES: Pomegranates/avocado, apples, clementinas/banana, pomelit, oranges.