June 3-5, 2024 – A SLICE OF SUMMER


Monday deliveries as usual.

Wednesday deliveries will be delayed to Thursday, June 13.

The Chubeza Order System will close for changes to your order on Erev Shavuot, Tuesday, June 11 at 8:00 AM to enable us to prepare.



A woman once lived in a huge watermelon
With a lamp, chair and stools that set her a’kvellin’
She carved out a window, a living room too
Built a wardrobe and hung up a painting in blue
Bought a cat to catch mice – but at break of dawn
Woke up to discover the season was gone

(Nurit Zarchi, Translated [loosely] by Aliza Raz)
Illustration: Yossi Abulafia



I have a sneaking suspicion that this woman actually resided in Chubeza’s watermelon field, though it’s hard to imagine her fitting all of her belongings into our small-sized models. Yet, the feeling of the watermelon season ending so abruptly is all too familiar to us. Watermelon season at Chubeza is really short – approximately a month – so before it ends, we want to share some fascinating facts about the wonderful watermelon. This week’s Newsletter is green and red all over…

Summer officially arrives in three weeks on June 21st, but though this spring has been very pleasant and (mostly) not-too-hot, this week’s heatwave hit us hard. Yet while we moan and groan about the oppressive heat, the watermelon remains unfazed. It just loves the heat, a throwback to its origins in the southern part of the African continent, the Kalahari Desert. In the scorching desert, the watermelon, boasting a more-than-90% water content, was an important, vital source of liquid to humankind and wild animals. The difficulty in choosing a good watermelon is an old story. Even in its wild form, the sweet watermelon is identical on the outside to a bitter watermelon, necessitating the thirsty passerby to punch a hole in the watermelon rind to test its taste.

From South Africa, the watermelon spread north across the African continent, and was cultivated in Egypt over 4,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians drew depictions of watermelons to decorate sarcophagi and cave walls, and they would leave  watermelon near the dead to nourish them on their journey to the Next World. The Hebrews knew it from Egypt, reminiscing, “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the squash, and the watermelons…”

From North Africa, the watermelon entered the Middle East where it grew well and was even mentioned several times in the Mishna. It arrived in China in the 10th century, and today China is the world champion watermelon grower, followed closely by Turkey and Iran. In the 13th century, the Moors brought it with them to Europe, along with other plants they met in Africa and Asia. The watermelon arrived in America with the African slaves and the European settlers.

Chubeza’s love affair with watermelons began with innocence, ambition, and… failure. On the farm where I worked in California, just before I established Chubeza, we grew watermelons. We had nice success with the yields, leading me to believe that growing watermelon would be simple, so I added watermelon to Chubeza’s nascent crop list. The first year, the watermelons simply did not grow, and we only harvested a few dozen from our fancy beds. Fortunately, back in 2004, our entire clientele also numbered a few dozen, so there were enough watermelons to go round.

One of the main reasons for this failure was the timing. Inexperienced, I seeded watermelons like we did in California, at the end of spring. Yet springtime in Israel is fraught with viruses and disease, particularly among the cucurbit family to which our watermelon friend belongs.

After a hiatus of several years as we chalked up experience with cucurbits and their viruses, we decided to try again, this time calibrated to beat the viruses. We seeded earlier and covered the plants with an agril cloth at the start of their journey (to prevent virus infections). We made an additional attempt, planting earlier and gaining more success. And ever since, we’ve been growing sweet, juicy watermelons. And yet—the virus challenge shortens our season. We only grow watermelons in Spring.

We humans beings are not alone in adoring the watermelon, but are joined by wild animals and, of course, birds. Especially, intrepid sweet-toothed hard-beaked crows. We protect our fruits with a passion by  covering the bed with a bird net preventing the crows from feasting on this red, juicy delight, and place a “bird scarecrow” above them – a kite in the shape of a tough bird of prey, mounted on a six-meter-high flexible telescopic pole. When there’s a breeze, the kite takes off, flying randomly as he perfectly mimics the flight pattern of birds of prey – thus deterring the ravenous crows. Otherwise, we find them like this:

Watermelon is a medicinal fruit. Its ample water content cleanses the body, making watermelon juice highly recommended for those suffering from bladder and liver deficiencies. It is also beneficial for cleansing the kidneys. Watermelon even helps to cleanse the body of cigarette smoke – highly recommended for active and passive smokers alike.

Traditional Yemenite folk cures use watermelon seeds to rid bad breath and stains from the teeth and mouth. Soak well-crushed watermelon seeds in water, then strain the liquid for a super mouthwash. In Iraq, watermelon rind is used to treat fungal skin infections. Libyan Jews are known to rub their skin with watermelon rind to lighten skin blemishes. Watermelon contains vitamin A in the form of carotenoid, vitamin C, and vitamins B1 and B2. It is low in nitrogen and rich in potassium. 

So… how do do you pick a ripe, sweet watermelon?

–       We pick the watermelon at its ripest, when the tendril near the stem dries up. At the watermelon stand, look for a drier and slightly shrivelled stem, indicating that the watermelon wasn’t picked while green.

–       The part that comes in contact with the ground changes its color to yellow, so you should look for a yellow (not white) spot on one of the watermelon sides.

–       And the most mysterious clue of all: if you thump the fruit, you will hear a dull echo reverberating back to you.

Check out this live demonstration


How to store a watermelon:

The ideal temperature to store a watermelon is 12°C, but even at room temperature (23°), a whole watermelon will keep for a week to 10 days. Don’t overdo it, though. A watermelon stored for too long will lose its taste and change its texture.

It is not recommended to freeze a watermelon or store it in the cooler compartments of your fridge. Overexposure to cold can cause frostbite, taking a toll on the watermelon’s sweetness and flavor, resulting in its solid core becoming soft and powdery. To store it after slicing, seal in plastic wrap and store at a temperature of 3-4° Celsius.

Wishing you a fine week, with only good news.

Alon, Bat-Ami, Einat and Chubeza’s entire summer team



Monday: Scallions/celery stalk/bunch of turnips/cabbage, Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach, romaine lettuce/Lalique lettuce, red beets/carrots, zucchini/squash, potatoes, acorn squash/butternut squash/slice of pumpkin, parsley/dill/coriander/nana/basil/garlic chives, tomatoes, cucumbers/fakus, cherry tomatoes/green or yellow beans.

Large box, in addition: Melon/watermelon, onions/eggplant, corn!     

FRUIT BOXES:  Red apples/pears, bananas, peaches/nectarines, avocados/pomelit.   

Wednesday: Romaine lettuce/Lalique lettuce, melon/watermelon/eggplant/slice of pumpkin, red beets/carrots, zucchini/squash, potatoes, acorn squash/butternut squash/cherry tomatoes, parsley/dill/nana/basil/garlic chives, tomatoes, cucumbers/fakus, green or yellow beans, corn!

Large box, in addition: Scallions/onions, celery stalk/bunch of turnips/cabbage, Swiss chard/kale/New Zealand spinach.   

FRUIT BOXES:  Red apples/pears/peaches/nectarines, bananas, avocados, apricot/cherry.