Reminder: To order sprouted spelt bread from Yiftah’s bi-weekly baking production, please let me know by Friday, June 4.
Over the past few weeks we have been slowly, fondly bidding farewell to our winter veggies. As we witness the demise of the fennel, mustard and tot-soi, the turnip, radishes, celery and parsley roots, and many other friends who have already been picked, their beds have been rearranged and made for the new residents of the Chubeza Lodge. One last corner of the field still has beets, Swiss chard, leek and other winter remnants, but most of the field is dressed for summer.
The summer bustle and motion are in full gear. After the cucumbers and zucchini, the basil, mint and yellow and green beans started appearing, and this week we even picked our first red tomatoes. I know this summer activity has not yet shown up in your boxes, at least not dramatically, so in order to ease the cravings, I am displaying pictures of the vegetables nearing the finish line (some closer, some still jogging…) in photos I took this past Sunday:
First, the tomatoes, which are blushing as we pick. Soon the open-field tomatoes will replace the hothouse tomatoes you have been receiving throughout the winter:
It is definitely not rare to see red and green tomatoes sharing a bush. We only pick the red ones, and allow the green tomatoes their time to ripen. In the background you can see the adjacent tomato crop, still covered by a shading net to protect the bushes from the strong sun and to reduce the threat of viruses.
The climbing cherry tomatoes that were planted later than the big bush tomatoes are protected at this time with a large shade pavilion. Though they were planted later, they ripen faster, and dark green clusters are already glimmering on the upright bushes, preparing to turn red.
Other friends who are almost ready to be picked are the watermelons, lying in their beds in a carpet of beautiful, tender leaves. The watermelons we seeded are the small type, designed to fit into your basket, while leaving room for a few other vegetables… Here are some shots of the little round’uns:
Some time ago we discovered that we have competition over the watermelons. Our nemeses are other field dwellers, who covet our sweet fruits. This is how it looks…
At first we thought perhaps this meant the fruit is ripe, and curiously checked one of the watermelons. But it was still light colored and not too sweet. The sign of a ripe watermelon is if its small leaf, the one which is attached to the stem connecting the watermelon to the plant, has dried up. In the meantime, the leaves are still green and we are patiently and expectantly waiting for the first sign of ripeness.
Near the watermelon beds, various types of small pumpkins (aka winter squash, because they keep so well they can last till winter!) are nearing maturity, though they are not quite ready. The skin of the fruit still need to harden, and their insides need to sweeten, but they are definitely moving in the right direction, reaching the correct size, slowly perfecting their even tan and thickening their sides. Here is the most identifiable of the bunch, the butternut squash:
Next to her, her friend the acorn squash is growing. These reached the Israeli markets only last year, sometimes called “the chestnut pumpkin.”
And in the last bed, my favorites- the Kabocha:
We learned from previous years to grow these hard squashes relatively early so as to enjoy them during summertime, as an appetizer for the great big pumpkins which need five months of growing and ripening till they are ready to be picked. Here is an updated photo of one of the pumpkins which was seeded at the end of the winter. As you can tell, there is still time till the clock chimes midnight for this pumpkin… Cinderella will have to wait patiently. (The pumpkin pictured is a Provence pumpkin, which is smaller and flatter. When ripe, it is a dark orange.)
Guess who’s rushing to ripen and join your boxes! It’s our good ol’ pal, the corn. Over the past few weeks we were happy to give you a taste of the southern corn of Moshav Ein HaBsor, in preparation for our own corn that has already bloomed. In the meantime, the female flowers, enclosed within the stem, have already been fertilized and little cobs with thin, corn silk have begun to develop on the plants (see them peeking through the center of the stems?)
The cobs will thicken, and the corn silk will dry out and turn reddish-brown. That is when we know the time has come and they will be picked from the upright plants into your boxes.
Another guest already on our plants, though still in her skinny form, is the Cowpea (lubia). This year we are growing a variety of cowpeas: a bush cowpea, brought to us by Mohammed last year, from which we prepared seeds (it is the black-eyed pea variety which has unique and lovely seeds: white with a black eye) Thai cowpea which also grows on a bush, and the creeping cowpea that was seeded adjacent to poles with a net to support its climbing. In the picture is Mohammed’s black-eyed pea: the flowers have already bloomed, and more will follow, and thin snakes of pods are already apparent on the plants.
And last but not least, our eggplant, that is taking its time ripening. But today I was pleased to see pretty purple flowers bowing their heads on the bushes, declaring the eggplant has reached the age it can start procreating, as it steadily advances to the stage of pollination and fruit. When the eggplant comes, we will know for sure that summer has indeed arrived. Here it is in its present condition:
Wishing you a good week, advancing steadily but surely towards summer and its tasty produce.
Alon, Bat Ami and the Chubeza team
This week’s basket includes:
Monday: potatoes, Swiss chard, tomatoes, parsley, green onions, lettuce, broccoli (from a net-house in Kfar Truman), cucumbers & fakus, zucchini & squash, beets, green or yellow beans.
In the large box, in addition: corn (Ein Habsor), cabbage or leek, dill
Wednesday: potatoes, Swiss chard, cilantro/dill, green onions, tomatoes, cucumbers & fakus, zucchini & squash, beets, green or yellow beans, peppers.
In the large box, in addition: parsley, corn, leek
End of the month tasks took over this week, leaving this newsletter bereft of recipes. Meet you in the kitchen next week!