The Goings On – March 2021

Hey there folks! We hope this blog finds you and yours well. Things have been a bit upside down for us as we caught COVID – UGH! Still there is so many positive developments!

Spring Plant Sale

Here on the farm Spring is in the air as our perennial flowers are blooming, the fruit trees are budding, and the bees are buzzing! Smells like Spring to us! It is always around this time (sometimes sooner) that Spring fever kicks in.

2021 Clean Starts

Now I know we are prone to at least one cold snap between here and April but the fever takes over and we plant away! This year we are planting more than ever because of our Spring Plant Sale. We have had some adjustments to our listings – removed somethings and added others. We are really excited to offer everything from flowers to pumpkins this year. Our tomatoes had to be restarted so there will be a slight delay on those but trust us when we say the selection is well worth the wait! However eggplant, peppers, squash, cucumbers, and leafy greens are right on track for our April 1st start date. We have decided not to create individual listings for these plants as we previously stated. Instead please contact us with the plants you want and quantity and we will send and invoice. Once invoice is paid your Clean Starts will be delivered & you will be well on your way to a tasty 2021. Pre-ordering is now open until March 31st.

Our Flower Bouquets

Flowers are quickly becoming a new love for me. At first it was purely scientific – flowers = pollinators & pollinators = food. Now, however, I am in love with Zinnia. They come in so many different colors & shapes that it is like a new flower every time you plant them. Zinnia self sows which is THE BEST! It also looks so beautiful in an arrangement all by itself or accompanied by other flowers. Having said, that we will be making our flower bouquets available to the public as soon as our cut flowers are ready. We will not be doing the subscription service with our flowers this year but next year is looking quite promising. If you are wondering about when these will be available our projections are around May 1st… tentatively.

Early Morning Flower Harvest

We know that in our area there are many choices for bouquets so we do our best to bring you the highest quality farm fresh flowers. Our flower bouquets are arranged with at least one edible portion. That may be an edible flower or an herb. They last anywhere for 5 – 10 days depending on variety. Each bouquet will come with suggested instructions for longevity. In addition, we are considering offering standard bouquets this Spring as well. These would be all Sunflower or all Zinnia. Both would be very beautiful. As far as flowers are concerned we have already planted:

  • Sunflower varieties
  • Zinnia varieties
  • Gladiolus varieties
  • Love Lies Bleeding Amaranth
  • Calendula
  • Marigolds & more!

We have Hydrangeas patiently waiting on their forever home as well as more Gladiolus. Where will we find the TIME?!

Coincidentally about half of the flowers we are growing will also be available to you in the plant sale. Don’t miss out!

What About the Produce?

Okaaaay! So – things are growing very well in the high tunnel. Peppers, eggplant, mustards, lettuce, carrots, dill, bunching onions, parsley, Choi, peas, snap beans and strawberries are have all made themselves right at home. If you are looking for kale then you will have to wait a bit longer. Our crop was decimated by aphids. We implemented some measures but it was too little too late. Kale varieties will be replanted in the field beds. On the other hand, bunching onions are up for harvest in a week or so. This is a new variety that we think will have a permanent home at BHG. Choi is nearing its harvest day & Swiss Chard is growing beautifully so look for them over on our weekly listings page next Monday (March 8th).

In the next couple of weeks we will be setting out cucumbers & squash in Hoopty and one more planting of lettuce and spinach (well we hope we can squeeze that into Hoopty before it gets too hot).

Field planting areas are on the docket have their cover crop (Crimson Clover) mowed down in preparation for Spring planting. We are a bit late but given the circumstances I think we are doing all right. This green manure will certainly be beneficial in our okra, squash, and kale beds. We are toying around with the idea of planting our corn with clover this year. The idea is that the shaded clover will drop its leaves and the leaves will breakdown and feed the soil which in turn feeds the corn. We are still researching this technique so there’s still a lot to learn. Isn’t that the fun part of this adventure though? We are so glad you have joined us!!!

For more details about what is growing on check out this video. Speaking of videos have you checked out all of our YouTube content? We are still uploading as we have time and will continue to do so. Be sure to thumbs up, subscribe, and share (specifically the Weekly Tip videos). We can learn & grow together.

Shena’s Baked Creations

Just a quick note. We are allowing another month to roll by before reopening the Baked Creations Shop. It will reopen April 12th.

Well that’s all folks. See ya’ in April!


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?


Veggie-ghetti

Have you ever had so many vegetables you just do not have any idea of what to do with them? This is an issue many home gardeners will run into several times during peak harvest season. It is also an issue we were facing over the weekend. If you want to see how we turned a mess of veggies into a tasty vegetarian meal then keep reading! If you wanna get straight to the recipe, we understand that too!

This past Sunday it became abundantly clear that there was a need to have a veggie chop and freeze day. Baskets of produce on the counters and in both refrigerators spoke the same exact story. Things have been so busy as we have done final preparations for the Fall CSA that we hadn’t been able to work it in weekly as normal. So I got the youngsters to wash up all the produce and set up the chopping station. Ironically it was also time to prepare dinner. As I chopped hubby observed to see what he could use to add to our meal for the evening. I readily offered the three eggplants that I had chopped up. If you could have seen hubbies face as he said, “No. I don’t want those. It takes too much to get them to taste good.” Yep, he said that! See, unlike me, he doesn’t like the natural flavor eggplant offers. That is ok, many of us feel that way about various veggies. So he quickly grabbed up some Italian Roasting peppers and stuffed them while I continued to chop. Four quarts of okra later I was finally left with the remaining peppers, eggplant and long beans. I decided to do a stir fry mix. One contained eggplant, beans and peppers and the other contained eggplant and peppers only. I diced the eggplants into fairly small pieces. I wasn’t sure when I would use these mixes so I froze these as well.

The next day marked vegetarian week for me. So as I mediated on what to prepare to please me and my carnivorous family members I thought back to the eggplant stir fry mix and had an idea! I began to prepare the following. It was totally made up as I went however I’m sure that someone somewhere has done something similar before. So let’s get cooking shall we?

The Ingredients

  • Eggplant
  • Bell Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Fresh Basil
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Spaghetti Noodles

The Prep

You will need to chop your veggies into a suitable size. Although I had no idea that we would be using these veggies for this meal when they where initially chopped, it just so happened that the size mimicked pieces of ground meat. So if you are going for a fake out then be sure to consider chopping small. If you are going for more of a ratatouille vibe then chunky is good.

Tip: Before you start chopping go ahead and fill your large stock pot with water for your noodles and put it on and medium high. Add salt if you prefer.

Let’s Cook!

This is so easy peasy that you really do not need the instructions but since this is after all a recipe we thought we better.

  • Add two tablespoons of olive oil to your pan and bring to a medium heat. Add all of your produce at the same time except the basil. Fry for 10 – 15 minutes while stirring frequently
  • Add seasonings (always to taste)
  • Add fresh basil
  • Add tomato sauce and allow to simmer on low for 10 minutes. Within this time add your pasta to your water which should be at a nice boil.
  • Add sauce to noodles & enjoy!

Click the photo for a short video of our preparation!

While eating dinner I asked hubby what he thought of the spaghetti. “It’s real good.” he mumbled between bites. I, feeling quite surprised and impressed with myself, had to tell him, “It’s those 3 eggplants you didn’t want to eat yesterday.” To which he laughed saying, “Touché, touché.” Mission accomplished!

Are you going to experiment with our Veggie-ghetti recipe? If so we would love to see your creation. Share your photos in the community section of our Facebook page or tag us in your Instagram post – #bainhomegardens. From our family to yours!


How Can a CSA Help Me?

After the holiday season most of us make resolutions to eat better and to exercise. “This year will be the year!” we convince ourselves. Week one and two are usually gravy (pun intended). However, if you are among the few that make it to weeks three and four then you already know how this short story ends. Now I’m not saying that all are unsuccessful but let’s be honest people – most are!

I am no health guru by any means but in the last year I have lost more weight and kept it off not by dieting by making lifestyle adjustments just as in my “Journey to a Healthier Me” series. Growing food is not light work by any means. Working outside growing the vegetables, having fresh vegetables on hand, learning how to cook them in tasty and creative ways, and having the understanding support of my friends, has been life changing for not just me but the entire family. Our children, particularly our daughter, loves eating foods raw right from the ground. It really is our new normal. The family is now overly critical of any store brought vegetables all because they now understand how it is “supposed” to taste!

The Bain & Hawkins Family are the first shareholders of Kith and Kin CSA. We both got into growing food because we wanted to feed our families clean, wholesome food. So when Kith and Kin CSA is in season we harvest for our families as too! As a side effect, our quality of life has improved. Kith & Kin can be just as beneficial for you and your family! How?

Having fresh vegetables on hand is really a huge step in the healthy direction! As a fast paced society, we generally eat what we have on hand. Old habits die hard! If our cabinet and/or fridge has junk foods then that is what we will go for. You know I’m speaking TRUTH! Let’s say it is a Thursday evening after work. Are you inclined to go to the grocery store, fight the 5 o’clock rush and buy some fresh veggies for dinner (and cook them), would you make due with what you have, or pull through a drive thru and get the family meal? Obviously none of these choices are wrong. We do what we can to provide for our families! Having said that, why not make it easier? When we harvest our baskets, we prefer prep by cleaning the produce and storing it in the fridge. So when the above mentioned situation comes around we can prepare a hearty home cooked meal fairly quickly!

Learning how to cook fresh vegetables may seem like a “duh” sentence but is it really? Did you know that a fresh cut head of broccoli may require more cooking time that one that is frozen? If you cook it longer then how do you preserve the nutrients? What if you are making a stir fry? When using fresh vegetables you are in control. No cooking or prep has been done at all. To some that maybe somewhat overwhelming but to us we like knowing that we are in control of our food and as a direct result our health! The salt content, tenderness, and nutritional value – all in your hands!

Rachel, I and our families have been homesteading for some years now. The mistakes we have made do not have to be yours! When we prepare our meals we are always thinking about our members so we take photos and I personally take notes (because my memory is unreliable) so as to be able to share our successes with you in the form of recipes and tutorials. Even in the off season as we are working with the fresh picked produce, we are creating recipes to share with shareholders in Spring or Fall.

Having the understanding support of friends is INVALUABLE! There is a support group for nearly everything! This is rightly so. A support group is defined as (according to the google search engine) “a group of people with common experiences or concerns who provide each other with encouragement, comfort, and advice.” I personally called up my mom when I was making a new recipe or one she had taught me and I’ve forgotten a step or two. When we shifted to trying to eat healthier I found that I needed to adjust ingredients here and there but I didn’t always know how to do so without ruining the recipe. I failed many times. I learned from those fails and I am happy to share that knowledge with our CSA members via our private Facebook group. I have only my knowledge to share however in our Facebook community of friends, in our private group, there are many who are vegans, vegetarians or even ova-pescatarians. There are some who eat exclusively organics and ones who mix it up. All that experience is there for all of us to tap into. Let’s face it, not everyone understands the journey of eating, no, living healthier. So having the encouragement & support of a group that does, is priceless!

So yes, a CSA can be beneficial for you and your family too. The above areas are just a few of the many ways Kith and Kin can benefit you. If you think about the unique needs of your family, we are sure you will come up with a whole host of other ways Kith and Kin can improve your lives. So rather than being among the thousands that go on fad diets and secure gym memberships that will only occasionally be used – CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

Kith and Kin offers two options for you. A half share feeds a family of two (2 adults). Each week you will receive 5 to 6 items. A full share feeds a family of four (2 adults and 2 children). Each week you will receive 6 to 8 items. Our feature image above is from week eight of the full share. Among the goodies were Thai Eggplant and Fennel which are not commonly found at farmers markets in the area. Our members did not have to fret about how to prepare because we already shared recipes earlier in the season!

If this seems like something you want to be a part of then we invite you to join us before December 31st when our early bird special concludes. Early bird members get a free jam or jelly as a nice sign up bonus! If this does not seem like something you want to be a part of, that is just fine. We understand that this is not for everyone. We will continue to offer our fresh produce at farmers markets and online via our online shop. However, our shareholders come first and will always be given priority when it comes to what we have growing during our Spring and Fall seasons. Our expansions do allow both Bain Home Gardens and Hawkins Homestead Farm to offer more than we ever have so stay tuned as we bring quality produce – from our family to yours!


2018 Fall Re-Garden

Well sometimes you get a clean slate in the garden such as the start of Spring when the ground is warming and you finally have the chance to scratch that itch you’ve had for all of 2 months (here in our area, planting is basically a year round thing)! Sigh. It has been my goal to not be too negative about crops lost to hurricane Michael. In fact I’ve attempted to get this blog done for nearly two weeks! The reality is that what we lost pales in comparison to the thousands who are still without power and many others without homes. Also on the agriculture front here in the South there were millions of dollars of Cotton crops lost. I never paid too much attention to local agriculture prior to becoming a homesteader. The truth of the matter is that on the small scale of which we operate, it is easier to recuperate than if we were larger. For that, I am thankful. So how do you get over losses of crops? Here is what we did:

  • Inventory: This was perhaps the most depressing part of the process. Just walking through and seeing things wilted, leaning, dying – so NOT cool! This however is a very necessary step. During this particular time of the year we still had some summer vegetables that were still productive. These were not included on our list since they were already at the end of their life cycle.  What we did include were plantings relevant to the Fall growing season.  In our case this meant that our Swiss Chard, Peas, Scarlet Kale, among others, needed to be added to this list.
  • Organize:  This step is all about the numbers.  Now its time to see if you can get the lost crops replanted and to a suitable size before your fist frost date. Get your seed organizer out and read the backs of those packetsFortunately for us, since most of our crops are ready for harvest in about 50 days, we had time to replant. Here is an area you can prioritize if you are running short on time. We were still cleaning at this point and as areas became clear we replanted. If this happens to be your case then prioritize planting in these are by 2 criteria:
    • What you need – Plant things you absolutely need for your family, your farmers market, or wherever you are sourcing your produce. This could be your cash crop or even a member of the dirty dozen that you never buy commercially.
    • Seed to Harvest time – Plant those crops that have a lengthier harvest time  right away! Even if your dates for first frost and harvest date overlap it is OK, especially in the Fall crops. For us these included our root crops – Carrots and Rutabagas.
  • Plant: Put all your research and planning to action! Get those seeds in the ground with the confidence that you did your best, despite the challenges, to have a successful crop!

Down Sunflower

Sunflower Down!

When I am down, I turn to my soil, my garden beds, and plots for solace.  When they are down I just feel awful! I’m sure you agree. So for a change, let’s help our gardens to regrow & rejuvenate. That is what our 2018 Fall Re-Garden is all about! Follow our journey on our Facebook & Instagram .


The Goings On – January 2022

Some say that 2021 flew by and others say it took forever. If you really listen to each side you will find that their perspective is what really determines how they have experienced this past year. Focusing on the many negative experiences that many of us have faced this past year can take such an emotional toll on us. Our well being and self worth easily being effected. However, if you take the same individual with the same negative experiences and change their focus to the positive things in their life, you will find a much happier individual. One whose real joy and peace are not shaken. This is not because they are perfect and have the perfect little life but it is because their perspective is optimistic, focused on what they have rather than what they do not. Going forward in life let us all work hard to be the latter. Yesterday is unfortunately gone. Let’s affect change to today! That was my TED Talk for the month! Let’s get into the goings on why don’t we!

High Tunnel

We have put several of Hoopty’s rows to sleep for the Winter and still have more to go. The way we do this in the high tunnel is not all that different from how we do so in our raised beds. We pull existing plants leaving plant matter that is small enough to decompose such as leaves and very small stems. Everything else goes to the compost pile. We do any needed weeding while pulling the plants. Then we cover with around two inches of composted soil. Finally we lay down weed barrier to black out the soil and prevent anything from growing until we are ready. We have done this with the rows we plan to plant Spring broccoli & cauliflower on. That planting will be in February. We had planned to also do this with the row we are planting tomatoes on come Spring, however that has been delayed and we hope to get that done this week.

In other Hoopty news we have been dealing with army worms there! This is really disappointing for us. Although we use organic pesticides in the high tunnel, we only use them on crops that we know to be targets. Things like our leafy greens get treated twice monthly. The issue we have begun to have is on our carrot row which is on one of the outer edges of our high tunnel. For the first time since we began to farm the army worms are attacking the carrot tops! This area had not been treated and thus has been devastated! We will definitely have to replant our carrots which will put us behind on our goals for the year. While that is sad it could be a whole lot worse! Army worms are called such for a reason! They invade and destroy just like an efficient army, many times before the farmer is even aware they are there as in our case. We only lost half of the row prior to discovering the infestation but our lettuce and other greens seem to be fine. We have treated everything at this point just to be on the safe side.

The inconsistencies in the weather this Winter have kept us busy with Hoopty. Since our goal is to open the sides of the high tunnel when temperatures rise above 50 degrees, its been consistently open for days at a time. That is not the issue. The issue is the roller coaster of temperatures that have been the norm (and will most certainly return) means lots of opening and closing of it adding one more chore to a busy farmers’ to do list. We are so happy that the temps seems to be lowering! 80 degrees in December was getting to be a bit much!

Raised Beds & More

We recently re – installed our arched cattle panel trellis that is on the front side of our property. We installed metal t-posts in place of the wooden ones that were there. This Spring we hope to grow melons here so we need it to be real steady! In the beds on each side of it there are plenty of kale and other greens growing currently. Recently the snow peas that are climbing there have also begun to produce. These along with existing ones planted in the high tunnel means there will be plenty for your family as well as ours! Look out for these on the listings page this month!

This month we had large harvests of spinach and arugula. Spinach has been used rapidly in cooking and in salads for the family. Don’t worry we also shared! Some of the arugula was dehydrated using our new dehydrator.

We were really excited to see the Fall and Winter months coming because we really missed our greens. Currently we are growing as many of them as the soil can support! We are growing green, red giant, and purple stemmed mustards, collards, salad turnips, arugula, and about 5 different varieties of kale! We are working hard to keep the worms off so that we can all enjoy the little piece of Winter goodness that nature allows us. You can find all of these goodies over on our Listings page.

This month we will be planting radishes, kohlrabi, fennel, bunching onions, & more! Now you guys know we pride ourselves on growing year round but even we have to admit its a bit difficult and can be overwhelming. One way that we keep things manageable is by doing our best to keep to our planting schedule and keeping a good stock of seeds. See how we inventory and reorder each season here.

The Flock

Well the chickens are doing great! Somehow despite the decreased daylight they are still keeping us supplied with enough eggs for our family. Just this past week we even experienced the highest amount of eggs harvested per day since we got them back in April. We attribute this to the fact that our brooder hen Shrill – x has started back laying and one of her first hatchlings – Zag has also begun laying! We are beyond grateful and as we have extra we will place these on the Listings page as they come available.

The first phase of the run extension is underway! We are adding more protected space for the chickens to forage. In our area large birds of prey are a frequent sight. While we would love to have them free range it just isn’t a safe option. We work hard though to make sure they have all the extra nutrients they need to be happy & healthy members of the Bain Home Gardens team. They eat many herbs from the garden. We jokingly say that we are just pre-seasoning our eggs! The also get extra protein! I mean, what do you think happened to all those worms?! We are currently editing a flock update for the YouTube channel.

Simba’s Pride

We finally settled on a name for our rabbit flock. Yep – Simba’s Pride! Yes, we know a group of bunnies is not considered a pride but we love the pun and are gonna roll with it! Little Simba is not so little anymore. He is growing so fast! I picked him up the other day like whoa – YOU PUT ON WEIGHT! He is quite a healthy boy. Recently he got his first taste of spinach. At first he was iffy about it but he quickly warmed up to the idea. We are happy he did! In the upcoming months we will introduce more veggies to him and Gizmo. You have to slowly introduce new items to them so as not to upset their tummies too much. Just like us they have preferences too. One may love spinach while another may prefer fennel. It is really cute getting to know their little personalities!

Simba also got the opportunity to take his first what we are calling, “bunny walk”. Basically what we did was purchase him a halter with leash. So far we have only been following him around the yard to the grass patches he is interested in eating. We want to eventually get to the point where we can lead him but we realize that will take some time. He is such a smart boy. We will get there.

On January first, Gizmo turned 2 months old. She is the cutest little ball of fur ever! We just introduced her to Simba. We supervised and they got to know each other a bit. Eventually they will be bred together. Can you imagine how beautiful the Calico Lionheads that will result will be?! We look forward to the future with all its furry cuteness!

Being cute is not the only job these fur babies have. They have the responsibility to provide fertilizer for the farm! We collect and compost their manure. As we add more rabbits to the pride we will be able to make this valuable commodity available to our community. We do not have a time table on that but stay tuned!

Unboxings, Setups, & Reviews

This one area is new to me. Admittedly I appreciate watching these type of videos because they educate me and help me decide what products are a good fit for our farm & our family. Well we have been adding more products to facilitate easier homesteading because isn’t it more fun if its easier? Of course and we are more likely to stick with it! We know it will never be “easy” but with certain reliable products we can take the complicated factor out. Our goal for the coming year it to increase food production for ourselves and having the means to process our produce items into usable staples is vital. Another goal is also to buy less and less items from the grocery store. We have done increasingly well with this over the last few years. We have eliminated buying relish, broth, celery, peppers, eggplant, okra, cornbread mix, jellies & jams from the grocery store, to name a few things. Going into 2022 we are hoping to eliminate buying bread – buns and loaf bread. So far we have added several bread making aids and I am really practicing making various recipes to find one that really appeals to our family. I do not want my family to feel like they are missing out on anything buy having homemade bread but I want them to look forward to it like they look forward to salsa canning day and pickled okra canning day. Trust me, those are celebratory days here! So that means mama has to go to work and prefect her technique.

In addition to the bread making tools we have added a Blue Yeti microphone to aid with our podcast and video production. We have added a Cosori dehydrator as well. We have a small Sunbeam dehydrator that we purchased for $5. It is still working but it seems to be dying. Also it does not have temperature settings. We have found that sometimes it burns certain herbs so while we still have it we are reserving it for outdoor pepper dehydration. Since all these items are important for our homestead, we have decided to review them from the small farmer/homesteader view point. These videos will be posted on our YouTube channel as they are edited. We hope our brutally honest videos help you decide if these products could be beneficial for your household too. This arena is new to us so please bear with us as we become more proficient at it.

Bread making is new to me and after only making 3 loaves I can honestly say I’m hooked. Making wheat bread is a bit more challenging. You can see my first attempt at wheat bread here.

As you can see it has been a very busy month and there are no signs of it letting up and that is just fine with us. After all, time flies when you’re homesteading! Have a great month of January – from our family to yours!

Have you checked out our December podcast episodes?

https://anchor.fm/bain-home-gardens/episodes/Feature-Wednesdays—Whats-That-e1c9r43
https://anchor.fm/bain-home-gardens/episodes/Feature-Wednesday—Red-Russian-Kale-e1cavrg
https://anchor.fm/bain-home-gardens/episodes/Trying-Our-Blue-Yeti-e1bujea

Feature Wednesday – Salad Turnip

We came across this lovely brassica vegetable when trying to find quick growing crops for the CSA. We are glad we did find it! Our family loves it and eats it raw and cooked! Here’s what we learned:

▪︎ Salad Turnips grow more evenly in shape in cool temperatures however they will grow in the Summer too.

▪︎Leaves as well as roots are delicious, technically yielding two crops for the price of one!

▪︎As with most brassicas, the flavor of the roots and leaves are sweeter in the cooler months of the growing season.

▪︎They can be planted densely and still thrive but must be planted in soil rich in organic matter for this to be true.

▪︎We find when night time temps are consistently above 60° these grow the fastest! We have harvested as early as 35 days in Spring! Fall/Winter is a different story altogether. The batch that we just began harvesting from yesterday was planted October 16th.

▪︎We have more success planting in field areas or raised beds as opposed to the high tunnel.

▪︎Although we can tell they prefer full sun, we have noticed they will tolerate partial shade however more growing days will be required.

Cons…

▪︎It seems that all pests love them! If planted in Spring or Summer some sort of organic pesticide will almost certainly be needed. This decreases though as Fall and Winter approach.

▪︎Heavy rainfall or inconsistent watering will cause the roots to split making it even easier for pests to help themselves.

▪︎Leaves tend to hold on to dirt making them a bit more labor intensive to clean.

Have you planted the beautiful Salad Turnip before? What was your experience? Will you plant it again. Let us know in the comments!


Feature Wednesday – Fennel

Admittedly until a few years ago I didn’t know what Fennel was. Since then we have come to love this frilly cousin to the carrot. Here’s why:

▪︎ It freezes well! We tend to avoid blanching if at all possible and fennel – root & fronds – do well without it. Frozen Fennel goes well in soup & smoothies!

▪︎It does prefer to be planted in soil rich in organic matter however if you do so very little care besides the normal weeding and watering is needed. As you can see in our photo below, some weeding is needed for ours!

▪︎Butterflies love it & we love the butterflies so why NOT grow fennel! Each year we leave fennel in the beds just for them. The Black Swallowtails lay eggs on them and the little caterpillars come into the world ravenous! They devour the Fennel quickly. We collected one of the cocoons and got a butterfly. You can see that video here.

▪︎It freely self sows if you allow it to go to seed! These self sown plants are really strong for us.

▪︎You have the potential to get three harvests – several harvests of the fronds, one from the bulb, and if you choose to leave the bulb in the ground then you can harvest the seeds which are often used in cooking.

▪︎It deters aphids. Try putting potted Fennel near plants that attract aphids.

Cons…

▪︎ It has a strong licorice like flavor that’s not tolerable for some.

▪︎ While it can tolerate some frost we have found that it will show signs of stress with sustained freezing temperatures.

▪︎Fennel is allelopathic which basically means it doesn’t like roommates. Other crops tend to struggle growing near it due to its releasing certain chemicals into the soil. Currently we have some self sown kale & arugula growing near ours but we have noticed their growth seems to be stunted.

So what do you say to Fennel – yay or nay?


Feature Wednesday – Curly Kale

As Kale is one of the favorite leafy greens here at Bain Home Gardens, you had to know several would be on our list! While we love all types, we have found Blue Vates Curly Kale to be the best one for our zone. Why do we plant it year after year?

▪︎ It tastes so good & is versatile in its use – from eating in a salads to eating as pesto or with corn bread!

▪︎It holds up to heat and cold. While the Winter is of course best for these leafy greens, Curly Kale endures heat well too! Admittedly the flavor is far less sweet in the Summer but applying shade cloth keeps the leaves moderately tender. We often use our Summer crop for smoothies or greens powder.

▪︎It grows fast! In the Spring from planting it will be ready for first harvest in about a month and a half. In Fall that jumps to about two and a half months. We always fertilize with blood meal or fish emulsion at planting and quarterly thereafter.

▪︎ It is a cut and come again green. You don’t harvest the entire plant just the leaves, making yield possibilities have high potential! We have had two Curly Kale last 2 years and we harvested the entire time!

Cons…

▪︎ The Curly nature of the leaves makes it difficult to clean. We prefer to plant it in our high tunnel to avoid splashes of dirt collecting from rains.

▪︎Pest control is more difficult because it is very easy for the pests to hide in the crevices created by those curls.

▪︎Every pests seems to love it especially at the young tender stage. We fight hard to get it past this stage (1st 30 days). We utilize organic sprays and mosquito netting to accomplish this.

There you have it! I know most of you already have Curly Kale planted in your gardens. If not, it’s not too late! The growth maybe really slow this time of year but come Spring your Curly Kale will blow up in all is Curly kaleness! What do say? Will you grow Curly Kale with us?


Feature Wednesday – Opal Basil

This week we are featuring Opal Basil. You maybe wondering why basil, clearly a Summer crop, is on our Fall list. Well the cool thing about Fall in our area is the overlap of produce. Some Summer crops hold up very nicely in the Fall. Some even preform better! While that is not the case here let me tell you why we love Opal Basil:

▪︎It’s purple – duh! You already know I love purple. As it has such a beautiful color it’s a great addition to your edible landscaping.

▪︎The aroma is outstanding! It is only the second most aromatic basil we have grown (second only to Blue Spice Basil). The farm smells great on a windy day!

▪︎ The flavor is a bit milder than most basil varieties. I like it best dehydrated for tea though it does make an interesting looking pesto.

▪︎The color becomes even more intense with cooler temperatures however during the Summer months you’ll note more green on the leaves.

▪︎Bees love it and we love the bees! On many mornings I’ve had to skip harvesting it and come after the bees had breakfast. They seem to enjoy these lavender flowers more than the white flowers on our other basil varieties more.

▪︎ On our farm it is also used in our flower bouquets adding to a visual beauty as well as magnificent aroma to the bouquet!

▪︎It can handle a light frost! No joke!!! For two years straight this has been my observation. We have had 2 light frosts on our farm & our Opal Basil has been unscathed!

Cons…

▪︎ It is more spotty with germination and seedlings can be challenging to keep alive.

▪︎Although it can handle some cold, the growth will stunt notably once temperatures are below 70° consistently.

▪︎It isn’t as quick to self seed as other basil varieties we grow. So will definitely require replanting yearly.

Okay fellow gardeners what do think about Opal Basil? Do you grow it? Will you next season? Let us know!