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Farm Report – January 19, 2015

Week of January 19, 2015

Abbreviated Weekly Farm Report

From Friendship Farms & Fare

A Community Service To the Local Farming Community

For the full Farm Report, go to:

Planting  & Harvest Notes

Winter Seeding and Garden Starts This Week


Seedings: no new seedings

Garden Starts: Swiss Chard

Harvest Notes:  herbs, broccoli, arugula, eggplant, collards, kale, swiss chard, kumquats, grapefruit, a few loquats


Time to Start Spring Seedlings and Editorial on Seeds

It is time to start seeds for spring planting. Here at the farm, we’ll be starting bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers.  Not far behind will be Okra.  We are loosely following the Bible for Florida Farmers, James M. Stephens, Vegetable Gardening in Florida, but also taking into consideration our local weather conditions, higher temperatures, and our experience with specific plant families and varieties within families.


We’ll be using our own saved seeds for okra, arugula, and cilantro.  Our other seeds will be ordered from Seed Savers Exchange or purchased locally from the Seed Savers kiosk at Market Off Main in New Port Richey  Market Off Main has a very nice supply of spring seeds, including a good selection of tomato, pepper, okra, eggplant, and cucumber seeds.  All are heirloom, organic seeds.


We recommend acquiring seeds from plants grown in your region, ideally from the growers who actually grew the plants and saved the seeds (like us!). Those seeds will be acclimated to the local environment, which means their parent plants have been exposed to the weather and growing conditions of your area (heat, cold, rain, humidity, duration of night and light, and so on). Seeds from a vendor in some other state do not have parents that were exposed our weather, soil, and seasonal cycles.


The forebears of local seeds have also most likely been exposed to predatory insects, and probably any number of diseases, pathogens, predatory microorganisms, even pecking birds and nibbling animals.  Those local seeds are from plants that have survived, thrived, and flowered in the very conditions in which you will be planting them.  In many cases the parents have survived challenges, such as those noted here, and they may pass along their survival features to their offspring – those locally sourced seeds.  So, acquire your seeds from seed savers in your region whenever you can.

If local seeds are not available, we recommend seeds from organizations and companies that promote seed saving, distribute organic seeds (preferably heirloom seeds), and are dedicated to protection and enhancement of natural genetic diversity, preservation of heirloom seeds (with lineages of 5o years or more), and absolutely prohibit genetically modified seeds.  Besides Seed Savers Exchange, which we recommend first, there are a number of other excellent seed suppliers who are responsible ecological and economic stewards.  These include: Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Wild Garden Seed, High Mowing, Peace Seedlings, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and Seeds of Change.

We’ll be happy to supply you with seeds for your spring garden.  Just let us know which varieties you would like, and we’ll have them available for you at Market Off Main, here at the Farm, or by mail to your home — $3.00 a packet.

Loquats, First Fruits, AND The Florida Loquat Festival: Celebrating Florida’s Urban Fruit – April 4, 2015 – 9:00 – 2:00 – Market Off Main, New Port Richey

We’ve started eating the loquats.  Neighbor, Sarah, and garden volunteers enjoyed small clusters of the golden fruit last week – the first of the season. A few were still a bit tart, but most were just right – not too sweet not too tart.

If you have trees, check them now for your own first fruits.

One of the many benefits of the loquat is its long fruiting season, with fruit maturing over a four month period.  We’ll harvest our first fruits in January and keep harvesting through April.  Our trees now feature fresh new flowers (covered with bees last week), tiny new fruitlings, and nearly ripe fruit with the distinctive yellowish-orange hue that is one of our first harbingers of spring.

As noted previously, the trees are now putting forth new growth.  Look for radiant virescent leaves, soft and tender to the touch, with sharp tips pointing to the heavens.

April 4 is the date of the Loquat Festival.  Mark your calendars, and join us for this one-of-a-kind event.  In the meantime, please spread the word about Loquats and the event.

We are starting preliminary work on the festival, and are happy to share our initial plans and visions.

First: This is a “Loquat Exclusive” event, so everything being shared (for sale, contribution, or gift) will be a loquat or loquat-derived product. We will have seeds, seedlings, young plants, several large plants, fresh fruit, jellies, jams, and pies.  No citrus here.  We will also have lectures and educational events on planting, cultivating and harvesting; eating, preserving, and recipes; and the history and cultural context of loquats. This year, we will have loquat literary offerings (see below).

Second: If you have a loquat tree that volunteers can harvest for the festival, please let us know your location (and phone number); we’ll make arrangements for the harvest in season.

Third: This year’s festival program includes a session on loquat literature – “O! Loquat!” The program will present short literary offerings (poems, narratives, prose poems) about loquats or prominently featuring the fruit or tree. We’ll use an open mic format on the day of the event. We’re excited about this addition!  Stay tuned, for more on this new addition to the festival. By the way, what rhymes with Loquat (besides Kumquat)?

Loquat Walking Tour, Sponsored by East Madison Grower’s Club, New Port Richey – February 15, 11:00 AM

Supporting this year’s festival is a neighborhood association in New Port Richey – the East Madison Growers (EMG).  The association is comprised of residents of the East Madison neighborhood of New Port Richey who have committed to improving the natural and cultural ecology of the community.  In support of the festival, on February 15, EMGC is sponsoring a loquat walking tour of the neighborhood. Participants will learn to identify loquat trees, note their location, and notify residents of the Loquat Festival.  If you would like to participate in the walking tour, contact us at Friendship Farms and Fare: or Ecology Florida:

Broccoli: First Heads

We are harvesting broccoli regularly.  There was such demand last week, when it was first listed, that we harvested all mature heads.  There might be a few more this week, but not many.  Broccoli will be FCFS.  We are a little concerned with the size of the heads and their early flowering.  This is a result of the abnormally high temperatures we’ve had this winter.   Include in your share request, and we’ll fill if we can.


Kale is thriving.  We will have ample shares for all this week. Our weekly kale harvests are about twice the size as last year – e.g. last year we used one gallon packing bags and this year we are using two gallon bags, and packing them rather densely.  We may yet have to go back to the gallon size shares, but for now it looks like everyone can get two-gallon bags.

Kale orders include leaves from all our varieties– Superior, Scarlet, Lacinato, Siberian, Red Russian, Halbhoher Gruner Krauser, and Dwarf Blue.  The strongest of the kales is the German Kale (Halbhoher Gruner Krauser), followed by the Superior, and then Lacinato.  We have an entire bed of the Halbhoher in the south garden.

Swiss Chard

Like the other winter greens, all varieties of swiss chard are thriving. We’ll have enough for good-sized shares for all who desire. We planted more Gold Silverbeet this week, replacing American Spinach, which was not maturing well.  Remember, when preparing swiss chard, remove the central stem, which is too bitter for most palates.  The stem can be cooked, but should be prepared separately from the leaves. Here is a good site for information on this fine winter vegetable:


Thanks to those who are following the broccoli saga.  Here is the latest update:

We have 228 seedlings and young and mature plants in the gardens, which reflects no additional plantings this week.

We harvested three heads this week.  Many more are coming in, but not yet full.  This is very late for us, but it means we’ll likely have heads into May or even June. The late fruiting was due to loss of our first plantings in late summer.

We were initially aiming plant 200 broccolis this year – but may up it to 250.  Last year, we had 144.


We are going with a good producer from previous seasons – the Wapsipinicon. This is a peach tomato, with ancestry going back to 1890.  We planted four in the Oak Knoll this week to go with the four we planted in the South Knoll last week. Wapsipinicons are a bit larger than cherry tomatoes, and yellow to almost white.  They have a wonderful flavor.  We are going with the Wapsipinicons because they have proven to be the most resistant to blight and septoria. So far, those we planted are thriving. Now, if we can avoid a freeze!

Organic Seeds available at Market Off Main in New Port Richey

Time to Acquire Spring Seeds

Good gardens require good seeds, and Tampa Bay now has access to the highest quality seeds. These are Seed Savers Exchange heirloom, organic seeds.  Friendship Farms & Fare has joined other groups committed to sustainability in sponsoring a Seed Savers Exchange seed kiosk in New Port Richey.

Through a cooperative arrangement with Friendship Farms & Fare and Ecology Florida, the Market Off Main, in New Port Richey, now offers a wide range of organic, heirloom, non-GMO seeds exclusively from Seed Savers Exchange.  Market Off Main is at the corner of Lincoln and Main, just south of Sims Park in beautiful New Port Richey.

The Market has received its first order of seeds for spring planting.  Spring will likely come early this year. Look for beans, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes – to name a few.

Community Garden Project at New South Garden

We are ready to receive applications for our community garden project. Folks interested in acquiring a plot can contact us through the 3F site. If you like to garden, or just want to learn, and don’t have space, contact us.  Our rates are very low.

We have installed sample community garden beds.  Each is (108 sq feet) 12 x 9 or 18 x 6.

3F  Produce for non-shareholders

Non-Members may order shares for $20 per week, or $50 per month. For this amount, contributors may request any and all items they desire from the weekly Share. Although we will assist with transmissions, it is the responsibility of the contributor to make arrangements for pick up of the share.

As always, non-CSA Members may request single items from the share list for $5 per item.  A full share for one week (any/all items) is $20, and $50 for one month.  Annual shares are recommended, at $300 per year.  Five-month shares are $200.

Just reply using the website contact link if you desire anything on the list.  We suggest non-shareholders start an account to cover costs of items.

The 3F Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Project

Friendship Farms & Fare operates a unique small-scale (boutique) CSA, involving few participants, and using very basic management techniques. We are 100% organic and use permacultrures principles. Our program is recommended for single persons, couples, or (at most) three-person families. The cost of a share is low by typical CSA standards: $300 per garden year (October through September). This works out to a bit less than $6.00 per week.  Donations are also gratefully received, with all donations going to maintenance and improvement of the gardens and groves.

If you are interested in any topic presented here, contact:


Visit the Friendship Farms & Fare website for the Weekly Farm Report:!report/c1tuh

Friendship Farms & Fare is a branch of Ecology Florida, a not-for-profit corporation.  Contributions to Friendship Farms & Fare and Ecology Florida are tax deductible.  To learn more about Ecology Florida, please visit the website:

If you would like to support our mission and individual projects, you may share donations through our website (above) or at our mailing address:

Ecology Florida

PO Box 596

New Port Richey, FL 34656-0596

Friendship Farms & Fare reaffirms, restores, and advances agrarian ideals to reestablish a sustainable culture

Natural, Economic, Cultural…bringing three ecologies together to regenerate a resilient future for all.

PO Box 596 ● New Port Richey, Florida 34656-0596

Ecology Florida advances the harmonious integration of healthy natural, cultural, and economic ecologies to regenerate a sustainable world

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