The Goings On – January 2021

Hello 2021! If you are like us you maybe waiting to see if you are happy to welcome 2021 or not! Having said that it is our hope that this calendar year will be less stressful than the last!

2021 marks the fourth “official” year that we have been growing for the public. We have really come a long way. We have learned quite a bit and continue to add to that knowledge to ensure we are making the best use of our corner of the planet. Recently we have taken several online courses about soil health . These have been so very informative and we have some new techniques that we hope to implement in the upcoming months. Caring for the soil is something that we all can do a little bit better with. Whether you are a home gardener, conventional farmer or organic it is our responsibility as stewards of the land to care for it. Soil care is an investment of time. Benefits are often not seen right away but when they are seen they are in fact undeniably REAL! Let me get off that soap box! What’s been going on?!

Peppers Finally Slowed!

This year we dedicated more space that we ever have to peppers and eggplant. We made this space in our high tunnel (Hoopty). We planted Jamaican Scotch Bonnet, Red Hot Cherry, Serrano, Orange Habanero, Early Jalapeno and Aji Amarillo peppers along with 3 varieties of sweet peppers. WOW! We had an overwhelming success with Scotch Bonnet and Orange Habanero peppers. These have certainly earned a permanent home on our farm. They took a while to begin to fruit (June) but once they got started they totally killed it! They love the heat of Summer which makes sense considering their natural tropical environment. We have harvested around 15lbs of Scotch Bonnet Peppers from only a few plants! We have made jerk sauce, hot sauce, pepper jelly and all kinds of other creations. We recently launched Terry Spice Shop page and are adding new creations monthly. Today we are releasing the Mango Jamaican Jerk Sauce & Orange Jamaican Jerk Sauce! These were a long time coming since some of the authentic spices needed were a little hard to locate but we found them! You can find them over on Terry’s Spice Shop page. With the last cold snap the peppers finally slowed down. Maybe we can catch up with them now!

Fall Planting & Winter Trials

We have almost completely planted Hoopty up! Every row except two are currently growing home grown goodness! We have planted peas, kale, chard, mustards and carrots in the last few weeks. Left to plant is are successional planted items like lettuce, arugula, salad turnips and radishes. It will get done as we find the time and energy to do so. In addition to that we have also planted beans – THAT’S RIGHT BEANS! You may have seen our Weekly Check-In video were we showed the row of water bottles. We used them to create mini green houses over the individual seeds to give them a nice warm environment to germinate in. We still cover these when temperatures are below 40 degrees. We have planted these for a couple of reasons. For one we wanted to add some nitrogen back to the soil and this is a nice way to do that. If we allow the beans to fruit it will drastically reduce the amount of nitrogen to be released back into the soil. We are not quite sure what we will do but it will be largely determined by how well they fair in the hoop house. The second reason we planted beans is we love fresh beans! We hate being limited to one season for them so this is a nice trial to see if it is reasonable to grow them in the Winter. Stay tuned!

Farm Sampler Basket

As promised, our Farm Sampler Basket in now available! Your farm basket can be customized or we can build it for you.  To customize just purchase and contact us to let us know what you want in your basket. You get 6 produce items from what is currently growing on our farm. Check the flyer below for details!

Our YouTube Channel Is Going Live!

At 4 p.m. today the Bain Home Gardens YouTube channel goes live. If you have been following our journey then some of this content may be familiar as some has been posted on our Instagram and Facebook pages. You can expect videos from our From Our Garden to Your Table, Weekly Tip, Weekly Check-In and Our Garden Adventures series. We also have created a silly little family show we call Bain-boozled and it will be exclusively available on the channel. We encourage you to subscribe! However this is our disclaimer: THIS IS OUR JOURNEY & WE ARE LEARNING AS WE GROW!  We make mistakes, we have failures and  we certainly get tongue tied! Too many times we see farming being painted a perfect craft – IT JUST ISN’T! Bloopers are the theme of the day nearly everyday at BHG and we are okay with that! We just love having fun being happy doing what we love! We are also sharpening our skills when in comes to video editing & production as well so if you notice issues – we apologize ahead of time. Though we are growing in our skill and understanding we still thought it would be exciting to bring others along. You will most certainly get a laugh or two! It is our hope also that you may learn something too from our successes and our failures.

Flowers by BHG

Flowers benefit any farm and garden simply because they draw pollinators. Though I am allergic to many of them, pollinators are the life of any farm. So flowers are a dual fold purpose in both beauty and functionality. We told you that we are working hard to determine if we are going to provide a flower subscription service for 2021. We are currently working on planting and cultivating new areas on the farm for even more planting and we are exploring more seed variations. We will have a final decision for you in our February Goings On blog post. Even if we do not open the subscription service you will still be able to buy our bouquets as they are available on our listings page.

We have really enjoyed growing new varieties over the last few years and more of the old stand by varieties. Our bouquets are unique because we add at least one edible item to your arrangement, usually an herb but it could be an edible flower. Our Farm Fresh Bouquet arrangements are also picked the day of delivery and most will last a 7 day minimum. They include anything from gladiolus, sunflowers, zinnia and cosmos to name a few. We will be expanding our selection in 2021. If you would you be interested in a flowers subscription please let us know!

Well “that’s all folks!”! Check back with us next month for more goings on at Bain Home Gardens!

Next Month’s Blog Post…

  • How much space will we allow for potatoes for 2021?
  • We are building hinged covers for our raised beds!
  • Will there be a Flowers by BHG subscription for 2021?
  • What plants will be available for the Spring 2021 Plant Sale and can I pre-order?


Kohlrabi Slaw

If ever there was proof of alien life kohlrabi would have to be it! We love this little alien crop swollen stems and all! We have grown it for 3 years and we usually eat it as is or occasionally roasted. This year we thought we would do something fresh. So we decided to try a slaw. This was super easy and required no cooking skill whatsoever! Just a peeler and a shredder! It is so easy we decided to make a pictorial guide instead of our usual recipe format.

The Ingredients

From left to right we have our purple variety of kohlrabi. We harvested it a few days ago and stored it in the fridge until we were ready to make this dish. Next we have a very oddly shaped carrot (it was so sweet), one half of a red apple and one half of a small sweet onion.

The Light Work

For the kohlrabi separate leaves from bulb. Wash both. Remove the leaves from the stem and set aside. Peel bulbs and carrot. Set a little of the carrot tops aside for garnish or you may choose to chop them an add into your slaw. This depends on how much carrot flavor you want in your dish.

Shred kohlrabi, carrot and apple (we left the skin on). We thinly sliced the onion instead of shredding. Since we were not cooking the greens we made sure to mince them well. Mix all of your ingredients evenly. Here is the point where you can really make this dish your own. At this point you could use some apple cider vinegar, mayo, pepper and lemon to make this with the traditional flavor of a coleslaw. I however wanted to venture out a bit more. I added Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar with some olive oil. It was the perfect mix of sweet from the kohlrabi and carrot with the tangy of the vinegar.

The Finished Product

Easy enough for ya’? We chose to store in a mason jar but a bowl will do just as well. We served it with grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. The flavor was just as I imagined it would be. This is a guilt free easy recipe that I’m certain we will recreate over and over again! You can add radishes even salad turnips! So will you make the BHG version or the traditional version? It is a win – win situation and in the year of 2020 we can all use that! From our family to yours!


Kohlrabi

Kohlrabi is a vegetable for the alien files for sure! It looks like it should be on a animated movie as the main course for royalty! That’s just my imagination running away with me! So – what is kohlrabi? It is actually related so some of your more common greens of the brassica family. Like fennel it grows what appears to be a bulb above the ground. It also is a no waste veggie meaning that the entire plant (excluding the root of course) is edible. Our family first started growing it in 2017 but didn’t have the best success right away. We have learned how best to grow it in our climate Zone 8b. Let us share out notes.

Nutritional Facts

CaloriesCarbsFiberProtein
36 g8 g5 g2 g
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one raw bulb weighing 135 grams (g)

Grow It

Aphids on kohlrabi leaves

Kohlrabi comes in several varieties and colors – white, green and purple. You know I love all things purple so we generally grow the purple variety more than the others although we have grown all three. I prefer the purple varieties for more than just the color. It also seems to stand up to cold and pests the best and yields the most tender bulbs in my opinion. However even among the purple varieties there a variants in size and storage length so be sure to do your research before buying seed stock. Kohlrabi prefers cool temperatures so we plant it in Fall for a Winter harvest and again in early Spring for an early Summer harvest. Depending on how quickly Spring merges to Summer we may utilize some shade cloth to keep temperatures cooler. Kohlrabi can handle some frost but will show signs of damage if temperatures are sustained below freezing for many hours. We have grown it in the field and high tunnel. Both areas have pros and cons. Last year we had really bad infestation with aphids on the leaves of the purple variety. It was quite disgusting as you can see in the photo above. We managed to get a measure of control over some of the crop but we lost more than we harvested. On top of that we pulled the crop a little early to salvage what we could so most bulbs did not reach maturity. Having said that we really enjoy the flavor of home grown veggies and we will continue to grow them.

Kohlrabi can be direct sown or transplanted. We have the most success with transplanting. Which ever you choose be sure to plant in rich soil full of organic matter i.e. compost. Seeds are rather small so you will probably need to thin after seedlings are about 14 days old. Many resources will say thin to no less than 8 inches apart. We plant rather intensely on our farm since space is a commodity. So we plant 4 – 6 inches a part depending on whether we are planting in the high tunnel or in field.

Depending on the variety you grow and the season you grow it in you may harvest anywhere from 45 – 80 days from sowing. That is according to most seed packages. We have noticed that our purple variety is generally ready about 55 – 60 days from transplanting.

When ready to harvest we gently pull the plant from the ground and cut off the tap root. We usually will pull off any damaged leaves leaving as many as possible since these are edible.

Preserving

Kohlrabi is one of those veggies we eat immediately. We sometimes begin eating before we even make it into the home. The few times we have stored it was because I was too tired after farming all day to prepare it. Here is what I do:

  • For same day: Wash kohlrabi, leaves and stems. Remove greens and set a side – never throw these away! You may only get a few per plant but these can be blanched like cabbage and collards and frozen. Pull them out later to add to soups & stews!
    • To peel or not to peel...Peeling is more a less something you will do depending on when your Kohlrabi is harvested. Skins of the Winter harvested kohlrabi are more tender than say late Spring or early Summer harvested ones. Our advice is to wash it well then just try it raw with the skin on and see if its something that pleases your palate. We peel unless the bulb is very small. Always peel right before cooking as there can be a slight color change once skin is removed (as with an apple)
  • For next daytwo weeks: Do not wash. Wrap entire plant loosely in paper towel and place into a slip into a zip lock bag and place in vegetable crisper drawer.
  • Freeze: We have not yet frozen kohlrabi but these steps seem that they will work perfectly for the job!

Eat It

Now are you ready to enjoy the fruits of your labor? I remember when we first tasted kohlrabi. It was quite fun. We love veggie firsts. It is kind of like returning to your baby days as an adult or kid. Here is our first taste of kohlrabi. Since that time we have only cooked kohlrabi one way and that is roasted. Simply peel, chop into about 1/4 inch pieces, coat with olive oil, season with garlic salt and place on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Put into a 400 degree oven for 20 -25 minutes. If you want to preserve the crunch then perhaps cook 18 minutes.

You may have guessed from our video that our favorite way enjoy Kohlrabi is raw. We sometimes eat alone or pair with other garden fresh ingredient to create a refreshing slaw. You could call it a root slaw but we simply call it Garden Slaw. Since it is made from seasonal veggies it is a seasonal dish. We are about to make it for the first time this Winter in the next week or so. We will do a video showing just how easy it is to create this delicious and colorful dish! Stay tuned as we grow, preserve and eat!


Fennel

Fennel is such an interesting plant variety to me. It is one of a handful of crops that form a bulb above the ground and the only bulb I know of that smells like candy. This herb is known for its licorice flavor and aroma but also for its medicinal properties mostly derived from the seeds. If you want to grow, preserve and eat this beautiful herb keep reading!

Nutritional Facts

CaloriesFatCarbsDietary Fiber
73.47 g17 g7.3 g
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one raw fennel bulb weighing 234 grams (g)

Grow It!

Since Fennel prefers cool but not freezing temperatures we plant it in Fall for a Winter harvest and again in early Spring for an early Summer harvest. The later planting is really special for us here in Southern Alabama because the Swallowtail butterfly larvae usually appear on our field planted Fennel. In fact we plant it in the fields as opposed to the high tunnel in the Spring primarily for the butterflies. It is just our way of giving a little back to nature. Fennel does not like frost so for the Winter months we prefer to plant in the high tunnel. This year we planted it also in the fields and have just covered when we have hard freezes.

There a several types of fennel seeds you can get. Leaf fennel is one which will not provide a bulb but will supply you with an abundance of fronds (frilly leaves) and stems. A beautiful bronze variety (also edible) can even be used as a edible hedge to garden beds. We hope to add this into our edible landscape this coming Spring. The more popular variety is the Florence Fennel which will provide you with fronds, stems and bulbs.

Fennel can be direct sown or can be transplanted fairly easily as well. We have done both but prefer to direct sow and skip the transplanting. Fennel, like most crops, prefers rich soil full of organic matter so consider working in some compost into the soil prior to planting. As bulbs begin to form we like to side dress with more compost mounding dirt around the bulbs almost as you would do potatoes. This keeps the bulb from being exposed to the sun (blanching) and helps it maintain that beautiful creamy color.

Depending on the variety you grow and the season you grow it in you may harvest fennel anywhere from 50 – 90 days from sowing. That is according to most seed packages. We have noticed it takes longer. For instance we planted leaf fennel and bulbing fennel on 9/6/20 and these are ready as of this week for harvest 12/25/20. That is 110 days.

When ready to harvest we gently pull the plant from the ground and cut off the tap root.

Preserve

Fennel can be a bit of a diva once its harvested. If you are not prepared to use your fennel right away there are a few things you can do to make ensure freshness.

  • For same or next day use: Do not wash. The more you handle fennel the more lifeless you will notice it becoming so never wash fennel until you are ready to cook, freeze or dehydrate. If you are planning to use your fennel the same or next day loosely wrap the entire plant in a clean dish towel. Place in a grocery store bag. No need to tie the bag simply wrap the bag around itself and place in the vegetable crisper drawer.
  • For use 2 days to 10 days: Again do not wash. Separate stems and fronds from the bulb and store separately for longevity. Store stems as above and store the bulbs in a zip lock bag and place in vegetable crisper drawer.
  • Freeze: We have had fennel last up to 14 days however it began showing signs of aging around day 12 so we usually freeze if we have to harvest fennel more than 10 days before we plan to use. We like to use our frozen fronds in smoothies. We found a neat way to freeze the fronds specifically with this purpose in mind.
    • Wash the fennel.
    • Chop stems and fronds into small pieces and place into an ice cube tray. Top with juice of choice. We use anything from aloe vera juice, coconut water or apple juice. If you are planning on using these in soups then try using vegetable or meat broth. If you just want to leave your options open then simply use water.
    • Once completely frozen dump into a freezer bag. Be sure to label appropriately. It would be a shame to throw your broth fronds into your fruit smoothie… just sayin. My research shows these will last up to 8 months but they rarely survive that long in our freezer.
      • To freeze the bulbs wash well. Dirt can get under those layers so be thorough. I like to do an initial wash then chop roundly, wash again and then spin dry in salad spinner before freezing. Time frame is the same 8 months.
  • Dehydrate: This is not a method I have personally tried but it is in the very near future as our fennel harvest begins in a couple of days. I figure it is a pretty cut and “dry” (couldn’t help myself) process. Once we do we will update this post. Stay tuned!

Eat It

There are so many recipes out there that include fennel. A internet search will result in a host of recipes – some simple and others not so much. A favorite of ours is this White Bean Fennel Soup. When we made it we substituted the spinach for another green we had growing in the garden… mustards if memory serves. This time of year we love soups and this hearty soup can be beefed up with meat if you so desire or made vegan by using vegetable broth. It is very versatile! We made cornbread with it and my oh my! Friends of ours also tried a Fennel Pesto recipe and they really enjoyed it! It may be on our menu quite soon.

As we begin our Winter Fennel harvest we hope to experiment even more with this beloved herb. As we do we will add those recipes to our recipe page and link them here. I’m already looking at making a fennel salt. Cool right? Keep hanging with us as we grow, preserve and eat!


Grow Preserve Eat

Here at Bain Home Gardens we love to grow new and exciting varieties of the vegetables and herbs you already know and love. If you have been following our journey then you know this to be the crux of our adventure. I mean if you are already growing why not grow something really cool? Along with growing the out of the ordinary produce items comes the challenge of understanding what it is and just how to consume it while preserving the nutrients God intended for us to digest and benefit from. But how? We are glad that you asked because that is why we created this safe space. There is no judgment here. If we are being honest, most of these produce items we had never tasted before growing ourselves! As we harvest we head straight to the kitchen experimenting with recipes we have found on the web. Some of these we have amended and made our own and others have survived the Bain test! Here you will find some of our unique items along with some of the usual. We have also found neato ways of preserving our homegrown goodness and are willing to share those storage tips with you as well. If you have found something unique at your local markets and need some assistance sorting out how to use it please let us know. We would love to add it to our growing list of fun veggies! Ready? Let’s grow, preserve and eat!

Click the link for the veggie you want to learn all about!