The Goings On – August 2020

Has the Summer heat drained you? If so you are not alone! We are feeling a bit drained here at Bain Home Gardens too. Let the tardy nature of this months newsletter also be an indication of how crazy things have been! What can we say though; the work must go on! Just what work have we been doing?

Out with the bug infested near dead crops and in with the new!

August is ALWAYS the worse month of the year for us with December being a close 2nd. The extremes in temperatures and rainfall during these months aggravates already stressed out plants making it a challenge to keep things alive and productive. This year has proven to be no exception to the rule!

The good thing about August happens to be the same thing that makes it super hectic – the starting of Fall and Winter crops. This month we have started varieties of broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collards and much more! Timing the planting of these so that they mature in the cool months is crucial to getting a tasty and timely harvest.

These plants will help support our Fall 2020 CSA. However some crops take two full seasons to grow thus they will not make their debut until mid to late Spring, still others not until early Summer! Wild right?!

In addition to starting plants for BHG & Kith & Kin,  we are also planting extra to assist those who would like to have their very own Fall garden. Each month we will be offering our Clean Starts plants. This month’s selection for Summer gardens has been already been exhausted! However, since we are constantly planting, stock will be renewed soon.

Amending raised beds!

We have many raised beds of various sizes surrounding our field areas. This time of the year we amend these with compost to ensure the soil is able to support the demands that long season crops insist upon. Our desire isn’t to just grow produce but we want to grow produce with a superb flavor. To do this proper nutrition must be available to the plants early on and throughout the plants life cycle. Compost does a great job in providing that! 

Celebrating good times!

We have managed to fit a little fun in too! Our eldest child graduated college last week with an Associates in Applied Science degree. You don’t need us to tell you how proud we are. Completing this last semester under COVID-19 restrictions was a tad bit intimidating but the school was very patient and he was very determined. Finding a job, like so many these days, is a whole other story!

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As one graduates college the other is starting the last year of junior high school! We are looking down the barrel of eighth grade this year. I’m actually looking quite forward to it. Since we switched from home schooling 3 years ago to virtual schooling, I’ve been very proud of how Thai has kept up with the workload, even making time to assist with farm chores. 20200811_064411_0000

I would like to take this moment to shout out to all the parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles and friends that will be stepping up to the role of teacher/learning coach this school year. COVID-19 has surely thrown a curve ball our way this year. We have seen horrendous stories in the news about how our communities are dealing with it and we have also seen some amazingly good stories. Now however, you have to TUNE OUT THAT NOISE! Put on your noise cancelling headphones so to speak so you can focus on those important to you – your children, your now students. Try not to become overwhelmed. You will make mistakes & so will your children after all this a new to many of you. The key is to maintain a positive attitude and to keep moving forward. Having successfully home schooled one child through high school & assisting with college studies, I promise you IT IS POSSIBLE – no superhuman powers required! Whether this is a temporary thing for you or it will be permanent, we would like to help. Therefore we, our entire family, will be preparing a blog with our top tips for home teaching. We hope to get this done before the month is out as we know many of you have already started your home and virtual school programs.

Time is fleeting. As we look at how quickly our children have grown, we are faced with that realization. Now more than ever we find ourselves embracing every crazy, lovable, outlandish moment we have with them. Meanwhile, our other child, Bain Home Gardens, has also grown much in the last year alone. As we have nurtured it over the last few years we are so thankful for the support of our community, especially during this pandemic. 

This Week’s Listings

As mentioned above things are really ramping up in our neck of the woods. Since we have pulled many of the Spring plants our listing page maybe limited over the next month or so. Therefore we ask for your patience as we prepare more home grown goodness – from our family to yours!

September is a special month for Bain Home Gardens. Do you know why? Check back to find out in our September “Goings-on” segment. 

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The Goings On – July 2020

We would like to send a warm “Hello!” and “How are you doing?” to you all! Things are doing well here on the farm but we have to admit this is the strangest Summer we have had to date! No beach, no summer vacation, no grill out with friends… it can be a huge downer! That’s why we try not to focus on all the things we are missing out on. Instead, we are focusing on all we do have and what we can do. Check out all we have been doing over the last few months to keep our minds busy and chase away the lonely blues!

Farming

That’s kind of a “duh” thing; of course we are farming! We have been kicking it up a notch in fact. This is the time of year we begin planting for the FallmCSA, Kith & Kin. It begins the end of September but there is no time like the present to prepare! We have pulled most of our zucchini, squash and cucumbers already. Not to worry, we have more ready to set out any day now. Along with our already established okra, eggplant, tomatoes & various herbs we are also hoping to get a more melons before the warm season is done. In addition, we are supplementing our snap beans with two varieties of long beans! Fall going to be “mm-mm-good”! If you are intrested in signing up, we are running our early bird special through July 15th. You can sign up here.

All this planting is very laborious! We are so fortunate to have some youthful vigor on the farm. Like so many, COVID-19 has made it difficult for our college graduate to find a job. However, he recently used his newly acquired skills to help repair duct-work on our home. Little sis, as always, refused to be left behind so she accompanied him UNDER THE HOUSE!

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Here they are after repairing the duct… just hanging out! I hear she got a HVAC lesson too! Hey – with COVID-19 I guess you gotta get a bit creative to have fun! He has also prepped 3 planting areas for melons, cucumbers, pumpkins and zucchini. Now I all have to do is plan & plant!

There is still quite sometime before the first frost and you know we are going to use it wisely. Aside from the huge mosquitoes and stifling humidity the fact that you can grow for so long is such a cool thing about living here in South Alabama! If you are twiddling your thumbs going CRAZY looking for something to do then look no further! GROW SOME FOOD!

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We are offering our Clean Starts the end of July for Summer/Fall gardens. These are grown from the same organic and heirloom seeds we use here on our farm. Below is a follow up photo from some who got our Spring Clean Starts. This is the Crystal Apple Cucumber. WARNING – only plant if you want prolific cucumbers!

In addition to growing food, we have found so much joy this Spring growing flowers. We have them everywhere this year!!! Of course the bees love them but we have also been privileged to be visited by hummingbirds and a beautiful Swallowtail butterfly!

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A few of these flowers will also be made available for the public to grow as a part of our Clean Starts Flowers. If growing is hands down just NOT your thing, our Farm Fresh Flower Bouquets allow you to still enjoy the beauty of nature without breaking a sweat.

Food Storage

Remember the Summer days of shelling peas on grandma’s porch? I finally understand why? Although “organic” wasn’t a term I heard when I was a kid, “homemade” was. Homemade this and frozen that. It actually makes more sense today than ever before. We can save ourselves from so many unneeded chemicals & preservatives commonly found in processed food today by just doing it ourselves. The flavor is always superb homemade! I can just taste mama’s fig preserves now! Most of us don’t dabble in food preservation because we do not have the time. Others of us have come to understand it requires loads of work! Still others are concerned about doing it safely – all of which held me back for years. For a while now I’ve been polling some old timers and experienced food preservers, hoping to gain whatever information I can about food preservation, food safety and how to lighten

the load. They know all the neat tricks! One of these that we found was fairly new to us but not so much to everyone else – a food mill. You can see us using it here to separate watermelon meat and seeds from the juice. This liquid gold is the main ingredient in this Summer’s Watermelon Jelly. Did you notice what light work the mill made of the watermelon seeds?! It can also be used for tomatoes, apples and even removing strings from sweet potatoes for the smoothest sweet potato pie ever! It’s like one experienced caner told me “The right tools makes life easier, don’t it?”

Video Fun

Since gathering with friends is out of the question for now video has been invaluable! We recently had a family game night with friends of ours, some local and some not, via webcam video. We played Jeopardy, Pictionary & more! It takes a little doing to work out the details but it’s so worth it. We all felt very refreshed afterwards. Of course it isn’t the same as breaking bread with friends in person but as officials are realizing things may have been opened up too quickly, we are going to be happy with this until it is more than abundantly clear that it is safe to resume normal ADLs (activities of daily living). So we will be sticking with our contact-less delivery methods for the foreseeable future.

So that’s what we have been doing. What have you been into these early days of Summer?

Certified Naturally Grown

We wanted to give a quick shout out to CNG. As many of you know, we are proud members of the CNG community. As the months roll by we are continually impressed with this group and are even more excited to be in the family. We really appreciate the accountability, transparency and how they support their farmers. Any farm that falls under their seal is yearly inspected to maintain that certification as further proof of their dedication to growing sustainably and naturally. It is the farms way of saying “We are serious about our practices and here is the proof!” If you want to see what farms are CNG throughout the US, that information can be found here on the CNG website. You may notice a new farm on the list, our friends and partners Hawkins Homestead Farm! We are excited to welcome them to the CNG family! We have always trusted their practices and feel that like us, they have found their home with CNG.

This Week’s Listings

Before we go we would like to let you know what home grown goodness is available to you and your family.

  • Seasonal Farm Box is back & packed with fresh produce delivered to your door! If you are wondering just what a farm box is, this video is for you!
  • Okra is picked fresh daily from our green and red varieties.
  • Sweet Pepper Basket is a mix of sweet peppers currently being harvested.

Things are really ramping up here at BHG. Early morning risings and late evenings makes for one tired farm girl; but there is so much more to share! Check back next month for more goings ons at Bain Home Gardens!CNGlogo


The Goings On – June 2020

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!

Updates

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.download_20200605_185032 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!

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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!

 

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The Goings On – May 2020

We are in that special part of the year, a sweet spot if you will. The space between Spring and Summer on the farm is the best place to be. Why? Well, you get the best of both seasons. Spring crops are in full tilt while Summer crops jealously push forward, refusing to be left behind. This is a race that only benefits us! So just what has been going on?

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Updates

As we mentioned last month, Kith & Kin CSA began deliveries for Spring. This is very exciting as we work very hard to ensure that our members have the best we have to offer as they are invested in Bain Home Gardens and Hawkins Homestead Farm. The first two weeks have been exciting though we are disappointed that we are not able to interact with our members as we normally would. We realize this is for the best to keep everyone safe.

All of our Summer crops are in the ground. From okra to pumpkin, all of it has been done. You may recall that we succession plant most everything. So while some things like beans, zucchini, squash and okra are already on their 3rd planting, space hogs like watermelon, winter squash, and pumpkins are on their first planting since they will only be planted twice.

The first of the above planting are already producing flowers and some have already made fruit, such as squash and zucchini. The flavors do not disappoint!

To be planted this month are sweet potato slips. Ironically some have already started growing on their own from potatoes that were not dug up last year. In that bed we have at least 4 popping up. Goes to show you how self sustaining nature can be when we get out of the way!

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Hoopty is earning her keep by keeping us up with a steady supply of beans, cucumbers, kale, collards, flowers and most recently potatoes. Carrots are about to be harvested as well. We previewed them about a week ago to make sure the roots were growing as they should and what do ya’ know – THEY ARE!

Kohlrabi was recently harvested but we have yet to replant anything in that section of Hoopty. I’m thinking about more carrots since we love them and we know you do too. Fennel is the next big harvest from Hoopty since our field Fennel has for the most part been harvested.

Tomatoes are on the verge of harvesting. Our vines are becoming so vigorous that we had to reinforce them. That was a fun project! We are growing more varieties this year than we every have! The reliability of these varieties will determine if they get a permanent home at Bain Home Gardens.

New Products

  • Blackberry Nectarine Jam & Spicy Blackberry Nectarine Jam – We took our freshly harvested berries and nectarines and made a delicious jam that we are super proud of! We sweetened with agave nectar rather than granulated sugar thus this is our first low sugar jam. We took one more spicy step and added to half of the batch hot peppers! It seems like an unlikely pairing but trust us if you can handle the heat you will love the flavor!

We are thrilled to announce our signature candles collection from Bushel & Peck! We have been working closely with our friends to craft aromas that are pleasing to the olfactory. This line is unique in that these candles contain our very own home grown herbs. You literally get a small piece of Bain Home Gardens in each candle. The first treat rolling off the line is the Lavender Fields. We could not be more impressed with how beautiful these came out! When they say handcrafted, Bushel and Peck, really means, “handcrafted”! Look at how carefully the lavender has been inlaid. These candles make great gifts and a personal indulgence is also acceptable from time to time – right? More candles have been approved and are in production! Those scents are: Lemon & Mint Pound Cake, Basil & Citrus Twist and Cucumber Water. To order and pre-order visit our Weekly Listings page.

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Well that is what’s been going on in our corner of the the planet! Check back in June for more “goings on” at Bain Home Gardens – from our family to yours!

 


The Goings Ons – April 2020

 

So much can change in a month’s time. It really sinks in when I go back and read the blog for March. There was no mention of the the COVID-19 pandemic. It wasn’t that the pandemic wasn’t around or that we weren’t already praying for those effected. It just wasn’t so close to home. Now it is. We have obviously adjusted some of our practices to ensure our family’s safety but also that of the public. Though I hate to bring this up (because who of us isn’t tired of hearing about the pandemic) there are a few things we have to address:

  • Farmers Markets – Although it is not required by law at this time, we have opted to not participate in farmers markets at this time. If and when this changes we will surely let you know.
  • No longer accepting cash – To prevent the handling of any cash, our sales will be online only with use of a debit card. Since our online store is not up and running yet, we will send an invoice to via text or email through which payment can be made. In light of the recent events we are making more deliveries and have had to remove the free delivery option. Delivery fee is $5 within Dothan city limits. This fee will appear on you invoice.
  • No contact delivery – When deliveries are made we will leave them at pick up location and notify you once delivery is made. If you have been sick or exposed to someone who has COVID-19 symptoms , please for your safety and ours DO NOT ORDER.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get to the other goings ons of Bain Home Gardens!


Special Announcement!

As you know we work VERY diligently to keep our growing practices in line with USDA Organic guidelines. This is not always easy but knowing we provide the community with clean, healthy produce makes the struggle worth it! We follow many forums that help us grow without the use of harmful chemicals. We are so thankful for these resources. It is through these forums that we found the Certified Naturally Grown community. It was like we found our home. Their mission and goals lined up 100% with ours! We began a certification process with them and we are happy to report that as of March 31st 2020 Bain Home Gardens is Certified Naturally Grown! Your can view our profile on here on the CNG website. This certification includes our flowers as well. What does this mean for you? Mostly, accountability. CNG holds its members to strict guidelines. Synthetic pesticides, herbicides and GMO’s are prohibited. Although this has been our practice, certification is further poof. You know what you are eating is naturally grown! Kith & Kin members are the first to benefit as they get beautiful baskets weekly beginning April 27th (Spring CSA) from us and our partners at Hawkins Homestead Farm.

Although our CSA shares increase every season, current world events have increased the demand. Therefore if you are even thinking slightly about signing up for the Fall CSA we urge you to do so as soon as possible! Due to wait listed families, shares may go quickly.

Seasonal Baskets

This Spring we are offering seasonal baskets. Our friends at Hawkins Homestead Farm are already making these available. 20200326_124536We hope that by joining this endeavor we can help make produce available to families that were not able to join the CSA. Our baskets will be $35 include any 5-6 fresh produce items we have available that week. If you would like eggs with your basket then we highly recommend the $40 option Hawkins Homestead Farm offers. Our baskets will be delivered on Mondays only for now.

On the Farm

There is so much going on on the farm I really do not where to start! Let’s just say much of the February planting is coming alive! We have baby cucumbers on the way as well as zucchini. Thanks to Hoopty, these crops made their arrival about a month earlier than last year. That is just fine by us! The tomatillos, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes are are coming along quite nicely and the peas have hit PROLIFIC stage! Did we mention we have cauliflower too?! For a quick and easy recipe idea click here.

Each year we strive to add at least one new exotic item to our growing. We decided it would be White Chinese Celery this year. We are happy with our choice! We harvested some to go in our chicken broth (you know we got the chicken from Hawkins Homestead Farm). It came out so nicely! We have looked up recipes for celery salt and are planning on making that very soon!

This looks to be the first year since 2017 that Bain Home Gardens will be able to offer fruit! Muscadine vines are coming alive & it seems this may be our year! Our nectarine trees are loaded! Watermelon and cantaloupe have been planted – huge space hogs! Who knows how many  fruit we will actually harvest but the prospects are GREAT! Thinking of a signature jam to make with some of these. Ideas?

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There are always new and exciting things happening on the farm. It is a life we love! Join our adventure by following our Instagram or Facebook pages. There is also where you will find the most updated information as to what produce we have available each week as well as our seasonal baskets.

We have more exciting new to come in the upcoming months! Stay tuned for more goings on at Bain Home Gardens!