Some Pre-Spring Messages, changes in deliveries:
§ There will be no delivery over Chol Hamoed, Monday, April 6, and Wednesday, April 8.
Please inform us ASAP if you wish to expand your box or make a special holiday order.
Open Day at Chubeza:
The Pesach Open Day will take place on Wednesday, April 8, the 19th of Nissan. Details forthcoming. In the meantime, save the date!
Hope and Concern
Last week we devoted our Newsletter to the fabulous fava bean, but this week we’re opening with a tale of his latest travails. Namely, this quite beautiful, seemingly innocent flower seen growing amongst the lovely fava flowers. Take a close look:
Do not be misled! This comely flower is in fact none other than the dreaded broomrape (Orobanche) parasite. More accurately, it systematically extorts the plant’s (tomato/fava/carrot) water, nutrients and vitality. On a carrot, the Orobanche looks like this:
Of course, discovering this deadly embrace made us think twice before we smiled at that plant. When we discovered it in the carrot bed a few years ago our hearts sank: Orobanche in our field! Mohammed’s grim countenance added to our concern. “This plant is called alouch in Arabic,” he explained, “If it attacks the fava bean, the plant won’t produce even one pod.” Clearly, the beauty of this plant is only skin-deep; its cruelty shines through.
The Orobanche is a complete parasite (holoparasite). A parasite is an organism living within or on top of another creature (the host) from which it acquires food and other materials necessary for its existence and reproduction. A holoparasite has virtually no chlorophyll and thus cannot perform photosynthesis, which is why it robs water and nutrients from its host’s tissues. Are you beginning to grasp the full problem here?
The tiny seeds of the broomrape or Orobanche (one quarter of a millimeter) can remain unseen and dormant in the soil for many years, even a decade, until stimulated to germinate by certain compounds produced by living plant roots. Broomrape seedlings put out a root-like growth, which attaches to the roots of nearby hosts, penetrates, and begins the process of fusion. Once attached, the broomrape robs its host of water and nutrients. By the end of the growth, the broomrape develops a light yellow stem that emerges above surface. By the time this stem appears, the host has already been damaged. Each of these plants produces hundreds of thousands of seeds which are ultimately spread by water, wind, animals, farming tools, plant residues– anything that passes through the field.
Within the botanical term Orobanche are hundreds of species. In Israel there are around ten, most of which reside in natural habitats. In nature, hosts of the various broomrapes are scattered throughout varied plant and environmental conditions, which is why they only rarely meet the Orobanche parasites. Even when these encounters occur, usually only one of the parasitic species turns up, so the damage is not great. However, on farms the situation is quite different. The hosts are densely exposed, and the growth conditions are improved, enabling the Orobanche to thrive to the point where a collection of parasites cling to one host, strangling it till it wilts.
Four of the Orobanche parasites existing in Israel settle in fields and attack agriculture: the Orobanche crenata (bean broomrape) which parasites legumes, carrots and celery; the Orobanche cernua (nodding broomrape) which adores the solanaceae: the tomato, eggplant, potato and tobacco; the Orobanche cumana which latches onto sunflowers, and the cruelest of them all, the Orobanche aegyptiaca, Egyptian broomrape, that is willing to parasite everything: tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, sunflowers, peanuts and many other crops. The Orobanche we discovered on our carrots, and more recently in the pea patch as well, is probably the Orobanche crenata. Its damage to the carrot is characterized by a dramatic decrease in the sugar level, which nullifies sweetness and damages quality. The fava that was injured by the Orobanche will yield very few pods, sometimes none at all.
The broomrape is major pestilence in agriculture. For some crops, the broomrape is deadly. In northern Israel, vast fertile areas where tomatoes were previously grown are now abandoned due to the Orobanche blight. Researchers are seeking solutions, including the usage of hardcore chemicals, but also in developing resistant species that can better withstand the Orobanche and other creative solutions.
In organic farming, the main solution is solar disinfection, i.e., spreading a transparent plastic sheet over the ground in the peak of summer heat, causing the earth to reach very high temperatures, and the fungus, pathogens, weed seeds (and also some beneficial earthly creatures) to cook to death. The result is a disinfected and “clean” earth, just before the start of the fall planting and seeding.
In the past, we tried the disinfection method, but were not very impressed by the results nor the shock caused to the earth which took some time to recover. So we opted to hope, instead, that the variety we grow and the constant crop rotation (the fact that one type of vegetable replaces another) would aid in preventing the surge of Orobanche to the point of an epidemic. For some years now, despite our concern, we have chosen to rely on the strength of the combined vegetable garden and hope for the best. In the meantime, we have sighted Orobanche plants in places that were affected a few years ago as well, but have not yet seen it expand or spread to the point of being a genuine problem.
Hopefully, as time goes by, we will be able to tell you anecdotes about the Orobanche, a pesky little plant that requires our attention and some creative thought, but not a disastrous misfortune. Hopefully choosing the strengthening of earth, believing in the combined vegetable garden and the strength of the crops will continue to prove to be a viable solution.
May we choose the value of hope, strengthening goodness instead of focusing on the hardships.
Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Maya and the Chubeza team
WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?
Monday: Snow peas, kale/Swiss chard, tomatoes, artichoke/zucchini/potatoes, carrots, cabbage/red cabbage/cauliflower, bell peppers/cucumbers, parsley/coriander, lettuce, beets. Small boxes only: green garlic
Large box, in addition: Leeks, fava beans/garden peas, celeriac/parsley root, “baby” salad greens/thyme
Wednesday: beets, kale/Swiss chard, tomatoes, fava beans, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage/cauliflower, parsley/cilantro, snow or garden peas, small boxes only: green garlic
Large box, in addition: leeks, celeriac/parsley root, potatoes, artichoke/zucchini
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, pomegranate juice 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!