!Aley Chubeza #144 – January 21st-23rd – Happy Tu Bishvat

It’s Tu B’shvat Again!

And the updated, improved “mipri yadeha” is back with us big time, offering a delectable assortment of leather bits, dried fruits, raisins, dates, carobs, and unshelled nuts for 44 NIS per basket.

From this week, you can also order dark and light raisins (Sultanina) from the Tal Farm. The raisins are sun-dried, free of sulfur or any other additive, and are hand-packed by Melissa, available in 200 gram bags or in a 1 kg package. __________________________________________

The Quiet after the Storm

I think I was so shell-shocked and frozen from the storm last week that I forgot to mention some important matters. Now that we’ve defrosted from the cold, thanks to the warm, indulging sun, it’s high time to express our thanks:

To the harvesters in the field, who slopped in quick-mud (sometimes knee deep!), extending their frozen hands from under their sleeves to pick your vegetables.

To the packers in our dark packing house (due to the heavy clouds and frequent power outages), who jumped up and down to warm themselves, and drank endless cups of tea while distributing the vegetables to your boxes.

To our dedicated, loyal drivers: Amit and Shlomi in the Tel Aviv area, who navigated through rain, hail, floods and traffic… To Yochai and Dror, who distributed the vegetables in Jerusalem’s whitening streets. Thanks to them, so many of you had your warm soup and snowmen sporting Chubeza-carrot noses…

Special thanks and “dry up soon” wishes to Asaf and Erik, our flour grinders, whose mill in Hadera was flooded by

rain. Nonetheless, on Sunday I received the weekly text message from Asaf, Shalom Aleichem, how can we help you this week? And when I inquired as to their wellbeing, he replied “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” (Mr. Spock, Star Trek II) We hope Asaf and Erik were able to speedily recover.

And to all of you who supported and encouraged us, who came all the way out here to pick up your boxes, who waited patiently for the boxes and understood the delays and limitations… it’s such a good feeling to be in this together, as we await the next storm.

But till it comes, this was a good week to evaluate the state of the field–the results of the storm, its benefits, its harm, etc. Generally, we escaped major damage from the extreme cold, the winds and hail and of course – the downpours. And we had so much of it! – our refrigerator halted for a few days due to wet circuits, and the awning in our entrance had to be drained time and again, and myriads of puddles and little lakes emerged throughout the field. And yet…

The cauliflowers you’ll be receiving did suffer from the storm: they were planted in a bed with insufficient drainage, and the growing accumulation of water in the earth caused a shortage of oxygen for the plants. They actually suffered shortness of breath. Their leaves went yellow, the cauliflowers got a purplish hue and their development was arrested. The purple hue testifies to distress. A cauliflower turns purple right before it flowers, and it didn’t look like they would get over the trauma. Thus we decided to harvest them small, and place them in your boxes in pairs…similar to how beings were saved in a different flood, eons ago.

Most of the greens in our field are relatively sensitive to these types of storms. Their leaves are injured by the hail and they may freeze and rot from the extreme cold weather. This is why we cover them in agril, a row cover made of unwoven material, similar to baby wipes. These thin, insulating sheets allow sunrays through and are relatively strong. Every evening before leaving the field, we visited the various beds to make sure all the little ‘uns were tucked in up to their ears.

And yet, sometimes the night winds blew off some of the covers, causing some of the greens to become purple or brown. Victims included some residents of the dill bed and various lettuces. With the latter, the leaves were sometimes torn by the hail and winds, causing them to turn yellow and wilt. A week later, some recovery is evident, specifically in the lettuce beds, and possibly just peeling off some of the outer leaves will make them fine. We’ll let them enjoy some more warm sun before deliberating the final verdict.

Our Liliaceae family members, the scallion and leek, do not get covered. Their relatively thick leaves are not threatened by cold weather. Their problem was the hail. It made its mark with white dots on the leaves, as if they’d been shattered by tiny pebbles (a pretty accurate description, except that they were pelted with ice that stoned the field). We’ll let them recuperate and grow some more before reevaluating their condition. But if you find little white spots on the scallion and leek, know they weren’t made by earthly reptiles but by heaven-sent sources.

The most sensitive to water are the spinach and arugula. Their gentle, thin leaves cannot tolerate lack of oxygen in the earth. Some of the spinach beds turned yellow and collapsed, as did the arugula. This means we will bid the arugula farewell for the time being. The spinach will stay with us a bit longer.

Fortunately, we did not experience major floods or soil erosion, and all in all, the water is permeating the earth slowly, as this week’s warm spring sun brings us back to normal. But one other thing the sun does after a heavy rain is to create a thick membrane of dry earth upon the ground. This is mostly visible in empty beds which absorbed much of the strong rain. Sometimes this means we must do some weeding and cultivating in the beds surrounding the plants. Two of the beds where we recently seeded carrots have not been showing any signs of sprouting, and we fear the seeds are finding it hard to penetrate the thick membrane above.   We will try to break it for them and hope this helps.

Sometimes we need to re-loosen beds that had been readied for planting and seeding. Fortunately, we were able to loosen the earth with the para-plough before the storm, getting it ready for spring planting and seeding. We were worried that if we didn’t do so, the plots would get too saturated. Loosening ventilates the area and opens up the earth, allowing large quantities of water to be absorbed and permeate downwards instead of collecting on the upper levels. This preparation proved to be a good call. But now, after the rain, we will need to go over our previous work and loosen the vacant plots to seed and plant in soft earth.

So we will actually be celebrating Tu B’Shvat by planting and seeding. What will we be planting? The first to enter the earth are the spring potatoes, who earned their title from their harvest season, in a few months’ time when spring is in full reign. Alongside them, we plan to plant zucchini and pumpkin. But to do so, we will need to cover the earth with a sheet, warm it up a bit, and then cover the young plants with a plastic sheet to create a sort of hothouse sleeve for the impending cold days. It is important to start early, as the pumpkins take months to grow and ripen, during which time the summer virus season will start. We are attempting to raise them to be strong and hardy enough to fight these threats. The zucchini has already proven that they prefer this way of growing, and we happily succumb to their needs.

After a week of slowing down due to the rain and cold weather, we are basking in these two weeks of nice sunny weather, healing the storm’s wounds and forging new strength into the plants, warming them up, enlightening them, and rejuvenating them with the large quantity of water now in the earth. What perfect timing for the New Year of the Trees!

In the spirit of New Year greetings, may you all grow and not wilt, blossom and not wither. Here’s to renewed growth and a good life!

Alon, Bat Ami, Ya’ara and the Chubeza team, basking in the sun



Monday: Cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, Romero peppers, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, leeks/ scallions, parsley/dill/ coriander, fennel/daikon–(small boxes only)

In the large box, in addition: Radishes, kale, parsley root, turnip

Wednesday: broccoli, tomatoes, sweet long peppers, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, scallions, parsley/cilantro, fennel / daikon/ radish, parsley root, cabbage or cauliflower-small boxes only

In the large box, in addition: cauliflower and cabbage, beets, kale

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: granola and cookies, flour, sprouts, goat dairies, fruits, honey, 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!