Farm Report – February 1, 2015

Farm Report – February 1, 2015

Week of February 2, 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: None

Garden Starts: none

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

Time to Start Spring Seedlings and a 3F Editorial on Seeds

We are again reminding readers that 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.

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

Supporting this year’s Loquat 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:

LoquatsFirst 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 enjoyed the first fruit from our young trees last week.  They were not quite ripe, and a bit tart, but delicious.  Fruit on the older trees continue to ripen.

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!  Here is a link to an announcement on the literary event:

Garden Overview

Winter Harvests

(additional details and assessments follows)

If anyone would like to come by the farm, extra large shares are available. Bring bags or boxes.  All the winter greens are at peak (and might be for another couple of weeks), and we’d love to share as much as possible.  Please let us know if you’d like to stop by for an extra large share.

As noted above, we are getting ready for spring planting.  We still have some winter seedlings available, and if you’d like to plant some late winter greens, we have a nice collections of collards, broccoli, and swiss chard.  We’ll share these for contributions to the farm.  It is still not too late to plant, although we are getting close to the end of the planting season for winter vegetables.   We won’t be planting any more winter vegetables.

We have good to large quantities of arugula, collards, kale, swiss chard, and romaine lettuce. Romaine may be a bit sharp.  Eggplant is still hanging on, with some small fruit on the shrubs.  Eggplant will be FCFS.

See the Share Report for all items.

We replaced several weak or weakening plants.

Tomatoes continue to mature nicely.

For all plantings, we use seeds from our collection or heirloom seeds from Seed Savers Exchange (


Broccoli took off this past week.  We harvested 18 heads, and distributed all through the CSA.  There is no telling how much we’ll have at harvest time this week, but indications are that we should again have a good harvest.  The cool weather has been a wonderful inspiration to this exceptional winter vegetable.  Broccoli will be FCFS.  Include in your share request, and we’ll fill if we can.


We will have ample shares of kale for all this week. It has been a real success story for us. 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.

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.

Swiss Chard picks up debris from the garden in the furrows and wrinkles of its leaves.  Please rinse thoroughly.  Also, remember, to  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 details on this fine winter vegetable:


Arugula is prolific.  There is enough for large shares for all.


Our welcome to stop by for extra large shares, has a special invitation to enjoy our collards.  This is their season. Our two varieties, Georgia Southern and Vates, are large, lush, and ready for harvest.


We planted Double Yield and Armenian cucumbers last week, with nearly 100% germination.

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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