June is here! This is the month that Spring gives up her reign turning it over to her successor, Summer. While we are sad to see her go we are appreciative of the bounty she gave. The frost bitten kale & collards, peas, lettuce and so much more! It isn’t all bad! Summer has bounty to offer as well!
Tomatoes of all shapes, sizes and colors have begun ripening in Hoopty first, then the field. The flavor this year has been phenomenal! Kith & Kin CSA members as well as others have all commented on how great their tomato baskets are. They were a long time coming so it seemed. We were constantly checking them – several times a day to see if there was even the slightest hint of color change! They really are our babies. Just like all the vegetables on our farm, they were tenderly cared for from seed. Now they are generously gifting us with such tasty treats! This is is a beautiful circle of life because you know we are saving these seeds right! Next year the cycle continues!
Cucumbers also of all shapes, sizes and colors are also being harvested by the basket-fulls! Our favorite thus far has been the Crystal Apple Cucumber! It is very fresh and no it doesn’t taste anything like an apple. It gets its name for the apple shape and picked in an early stage they are green, kind of like a green apple. We have used them along with the other varieties to make relish, bread and butter pickles, dill pickles and more recently Tzatziki sauce.
White Onions were recently dug up and we are happy that the bulbs are better formed than they have in years past. Onions like other root crops tend to be our struggle here at Bain Home Gardens. Arrrr! (In my pirate voice) This year we planted purple and white varieties, no yellows. It has been nice using these in our own cooking but also sharing with our members. Although the bottoms are a bit oddly shaped, they are very tasty & even the tops are strong! We could never use all of the tops fresh so we have learned how to preserve them in various ways. I cried my eyes out preparing the tops for storage! We used some in our Chow Chow, have used them in our pickles and we use them along with our home grown garlic in our oily pepper sauce. All the other tops have been chopped and frozen and bulbs are curing!
We have been monitoring the pumpkins, vining squash and watermelons closely. Today we harvested the very first cantaloupe of the season. We planned to have enough of these for our customers however between bugs and inconsistent weather patterns we sadly lost most of the crop. This makes harvesting this little midget type cantaloupe all the more rewarding.
Okra is finally getting into the swing of things – in the field and in Hoopty. We planted more on the row where the Kohlrabi was harvested. They are quite young still and it will be a while before they are ready to bloom. You can’t hurry perfection though! Last year we had an overflow of okra. This allowed us to store some in the freezer and even pickle some. I must say that I am looking forward to preserving this fine flavor of Summer! Look for it soon over on our listings page.
Eggplants are the divas of Bain Home Gardens but finally they are coming to harvest too. We are particularly happy to see this Thai variety again. It is much sweeter than its longer cousins.
Squash & Zucchini are getting the idea that it is Summer! They have gifted us with huge, flavorful fruits that can be utilized in various ways. Although we haven’t yet tried it, we are considering pickling some of these. Have you ever done so? Have a good recipe?
We are also trying our hand at some heat tolerant green varieties! We just refuse to accept that simply because we live in the “deep South” we cannot have fresh greens all year long! Over the years we have enjoyed several heat tolerant varieties. They all came through for us during these stifling months of Summer. We have found more options that we are currently running trials with. Stay tuned for updates with that.
Pests have been beyond a nuisance this year – ALREADY! They set in early and are not going anywhere for the foreseeable future! What is an certified naturally grown farmer to do? WORK! We have a great routine worked out for aphids, leaf hoppers and squash bugs – hand removal. It is gross work but when you pay your 13 year old for every bug she finds it tends to go much smoother – just sayin’. While our eldest is job searching in his field (HVAC) he is being extremely helpful too! He has become quite the bug expert! It is quite common to hear me yelling his name from Hoopty whenever I see a new bug.
While we have figured out the above bugs we continue to struggle with worms! We have improved our spraying routine with BT and we are hoping to see some results from that soon! In the meantime we have no choice except to pay the bug tax – the big ole bullies!
Then there are the pests that aren’t really pests so much as a danger. There have been several Moccasin snakes sighted and one killed by our neighbor’s dog in the past month. This is very concerning as we are frequently putting our hands in densely planted areas to weed and harvest. At the same time we have heard from other colleagues that they also have noticed an increased presence of snakes in their area as well although White Oak snakes instead. In the nearly 15 years we have been here we have only seen one snake on our property! We desire for it to stay that way so we do keep several cats that prove to be good hunters. However, given the rainfall for this season, we thought we would help them out so we have begin planting Lemongrass plants around the property. We are not sure how well they deter snakes but our research says the citrus smell they emit is not something snakes care for so they stay away. Plus we have more Lemongrass growing for tea!
In other news we have another farm dog! If you follow our Facebook then you have already met Athena, our Shepard-Lab mix. Friends of ours needed to re-home her and we were happy they reached out to us. She is a perfect fit for our family. We are teaching her the boundaries of the property now and not to chew on planting pots and solar lights – FUN! Duke LOVES her! He spends most of his days just looking at her! We think he is in love!
In final news – WE HAVE A NEW CREST! We are trying not to call it a logo per say because we have not decided 100% on all the ways we will incorporate it into our model. The artist worked with us for two months to make sure we were happy with the way the crest represented our brand. WE ARE HAPPY!
In the upcoming months we will continue starting squash, zucchini, tomatoes and other Summer crops to be sure we have ample supply all season long! When they come to size we will be planting them in Hoopty as a part of our season extension program. This is also a trial we are running. The hope is to have Summer crops long after Summer is over. Wouldn’t that be nice! All of this is in the planning stages of course and we have no idea what to expect but it has already been a very exciting journey! We have and are learning so much!
July is around the corner and who knows what it holds for us?! Check back then for more goings ons at Bain Home Gardens!