Kiwano Limeade Jelly?!

If you are following our journey then you know that we love growing exotic and unusual foods. We have our share of failures in our endeavors but on that rare chance that we do find success, we excitedly harvest! Then there is the the huge question – what do I do with it?

Our Kiwano Melons were no different! The first time we grew these in 2018 it wasn’t an epic fail but we only harvested one – 1. We took what we learned and made the best success last year – epic success! Due to weather challenges and pest issues, we had to harvest them before they turned their beautiful golden-orange. That took FOREVER! Fortunately they taste good green too. They tasted well enough to eat on their own but as you can see in the video clip below, they are quite seedy. Much like a pomegranate the Kiwano Melon is a lot of work to eat!

So what would we do with all of these little spiky aliens? We scoured the internet in search for recipe ideas. Sadly very little was found. On a blog about the fruit they suggested making jam. There was however not the first recipe. What’s a girl to do? Well this girl made her own recipe! Quite honestly it was touch and go there for a minute. I thought I was going to have to scrap the whole thing, throwing all our homegrown goodness down the drain! Somehow, though, around the third tasting it began to shape up into something quite palatable! We played off the lime – banana flavor that the Kiwano Melons naturally have. Now I see just why there are no recipes online. Once you get a recipe right with these guys YOU EARN THE RIGHT TO KEEP IT SECRET!

Today the kids opened the first pint. They are quite pleased to say the least. The first question was “Mom, how much are you selling these jellies for?” The second question, “Well, are there more growing?” These kids kill me! They felt much better to know that we already have more planted. So be on the look out for these on our weekly listings page while I negotiate with my family about how many we can “actually” list – from our family to yours!


Funny Story

So yesterday our son worked very hard to complete a big list of garden chores. He has been gnawing away at it since his Summer semester of college ended a few days ago. Since he is handling things that I do not have the physicality to handle, I’m extremely thankful!

So anyway he tilled a 12 x 12 section up for me. This new-ish planting area will be dedicated to root crops. Unfortunately, I was only able to get one row planted yesterday evening as dark caught us. So this morning I was planning to get an early start and complete the project except I overslept. Oversleeping for me is sleeping past 5:30 a.m. I woke up at 6 a.m. rushing trying to get outside and beat the heat & didn’t even make coffee. After digging my rows out and marking I planted but realized at the end of planting that I have an extra row with nothing in it. Huh? Closer examination reveals that I actually planted carrots and turnips in the same row – one on top of the other! Oh my goodness! There is no way to pull these seeds out and separate them as both are small and blend in extremely well with the dirt! Well here goes an experiment I never thought I’d run. Moral of the story:  gardening without coffee is hazardous! By the way, I have my coffee now and I have since realized the error of my way. #gardeningwithoutcoffeeisdangerous #mondayswithoutcoffee #ilearnedmylesson


Rain, Rain – Go Away!

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How many of you have found yourself singing that age-old nursery rhyme? Personally, I’ve been humming it quite a bit! This time of the year is really a challenge for me, gardener or not. With fewer opportunities to get Sun rays, my attitude tends to be insufferable but I’m working on that!

With the winter skies comes cold & rain. While I recognize there is a need for rain, I’m just a little perturbed with the random monsoon-like rains that have become the norm of late. Seasonal affective disorder is in full swing! So what have we been doing to cope?

1. Exercising – As soon as we see the Sun we are running for the door! Walking through the neighborhood and basking in the Sun’s light is a sure mood enhancer! If the Sun is playing hide and seek in your neck of the woods, as it is ours, no worries exercise is still a possibility! Here at our home we have several gaming systems that have interactive video games including Zumba & Dancing. These are great since they allow you to release those endorphins right from comfort of your livingroom. If you feel you aren’t that self motivated, invite some friends over! Trust me, it’s a good time waiting to happen!
2. Watching Our Diet – Likely you imagine yourself on a rainy day with your favorite comfort food, coffee or wine, a nice book or Netflix, etc. This is just fine, occasionally. It’s hard, we KNOW! See, the Fall and Winter offer many of these days so if we Netflix and chill with our favorite comfort food, for even half of these days, we’ve put ourselves at risk. Those higher blood sugar levels that are sure to result, increase the risk for depression, quite the opposite of “comfort”. So snack wisely, leave the winter weight gain to the bears.
3. Evaluating – Taking a long, hard, honest look at our own behaviors is hard. However, if things are really unacceptable then you shouldn’t accept it! It may be time to seek more assistance. There are holistic remedies so please sort through those first, always under your doctors supervision. Treatments like light therapy & cognitive behavioral therapy are also options to consider.
So as we beg the rain to go away, let’s make smart choices. After all, Spring is only two and a half months away! Be well – from our family to yours!


We Have Jelly Melons

If you follow our Facebook or Instagram pages, then you already know Bain Home Gardens specializes in the unusual. In fact, it is our hope to make at least half of our garden fresh veggies of the unusual kind. It has been a challenge I must say. Many of the plants we have tried our hands at growing are not native to this area. As such, they are susceptible – perhaps more susceptible – to pests and diseases. Much monitoring and research is needed! We, however, have found it very rewarding! Jelly Melon

So what is  a Jelly Melon? Native to the Kalahari Desert, Jelly Melon is also known as the Horned Melon, the melano, the African horned cucumber, the jelly melon, and the hedged gourd. The taste has been compared to a combination of banana and  passion fruit or a combination of banana, cucumber, and lime. Strange right?! Thus the appeal for us! There are several of these on the vine and currently we are unsure if they will make it to maturity with cooling night temperatures. However, we will post an update by video when we harvest and taste these guys.

Why are we so stoked about this plant? Well it took many attempts to get this one! This plant resulted from the last seed of the packet. The other plants grew, and some even bloomed, but then fell victim to heat and/or disease common to cucurbits. Another reason for our excitement is that this is NOT something you will find in any grocery store in our city. I’m unsure as to how we would ever have tasted this without growing it for ourselves! Our kids will have the pleasure of tasting a fruit from Africa. For me that is really awesome! So much of what  we consume today is based of off availability, supply & demand – ECONOMICS 101. The idea of changing this equation, even if it is just for one household bring such joy!

What will be the outcome of The Jelly Melon Journey? Who knows? Stay tuned – it is just getting interesting!


Working With The Summer Part Three

With Fall less than a month away, I wondered was there really any reason to continue the Working With the Summer series. I reasoned, “I mean it’s just one more blog; I could just let it go.” Hmm. Well folks, I just checked the mail came back in sweaty and in need of refreshment. What a reminder of the Southern heat and humidity which laughs in the face of Fall. “Ha, ha, haaa!”, it taunts. So yes – yes, we will continue the series to its conclusion today.

Select & Plant Cover Crop

Cover crop is something that I never even knew existed. Ahem … let’s just say I have come a long way. Now there are fancy ways of defining things but the short and sweet of it is that cover crop does just what is indicated in the name. It “covers” the ground. This is important because exposed soil is leached of its nutrients and beneficial bacteria.  If you applied some of our tips on cleaning up your garden beds already, and these beds will lay dormant for more than a month then cover crop can really be of benefit to you for several reasons.

  1. Maintaining Soil Structure. Most of us know that prior to planting out a new garden space the soil needs to be loosened or tilled. Since loose soil is much more productive that compacted soil, its something you want to maintain after working so hard to attain. The roots of the cover crops create space beneath the surface of the soil and the leaves of the crop aid in preventing soil erosion secondary to rain and wind.
  2. Weed Control. Most cover crops mixes are relentless in growth and compete heavily with weeds for available nutrients in the soil thus preventing their growth. You could call it a type of mulch. Some gardeners even cut these back when they die creating a literal mulch for their planting areas.
  3. Added Nutrients.  Depending on what type of cover crop you plant you have the potential to add back nitrogen. So in this case you would need to plant Legumes, Vtech, or Clover.  This is a quick & easy, easy cheat to build the soil up after growing heavy feeders such as squash or cucumbers.
    • Selection of your cover crop will depend on two things:
      • What are your needs? Ground cover? Prevent soil erosion? Weed control? Replenishing soil?
      • How long is cover crop needed? Through Fall? Through Winter?
  4. Food! Depending on the zone you are growing in you can grow anything from radishes to rye as a food cover crop! You get all of the above benefits plus you get to harvest produce at the same time! What more could a gardener want?! We had an unexpected treat last year. Along with Turnips, peas, 7 etc, our cover crop evidently contained Parsnips, of which we had no experience with – growing or cooking. Eagerly we learned and now they are among our favorite root crops!

If you plan to use any of our Working with the Summer tips please let us know how it went by sharing over on our Facebook or Instagram pages. From our family to yours!