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 .


Eggplant-Eggplant Parmesan

“If you have tried one you’ve tried them all”, one friend recently told me about the various Eggplant Parmesan recipes out there. Let’s be real – there are so many out there and I hate to do it but I’ve got to toss this recipe in the mix! It was really THAT GOOD! No there isn’t an error in the title of this recipe it is really called Eggplant – Eggplant Parmesan. Stick around and I will tell you why.

The Ingredients

Most of the recipes we post are adapted to what we are growing on our farm. That is where the “farm to table” comes in at. However, most, if not all, of our recipes can be easily adapted to fit what is growing on your homestead or what’s easily picked up at your local grocery store.

  • Thai Eggplant
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Basil
  • Almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 2 eggs
  • Italian bread crumbs
    • The Marinara Sauce
  • Canned tomatoes (28 ounce)
  • Garlic
  • Onion (yellow, small)
  • Diced eggplant
  • Bell pepper
  • Avocado oil

The Prep

  • Eggplant – Rinsed eggplant with cool water and removed calyxes. Using mandolin, sliced the eggplant on setting 3 which for me produces a 3/16″ (5.6-mm) slice. My mandolin safety guard prevented me from slicing about 25% of each of the oddly shaped Thai Purple Ribbed eggplant. This may not be an issue for you if you use the more smooth, round Italian version that most of these recipes call for. I took these ends and chopped them and set a side. You’ll understand this step later.
  • Garlic – Peeled, sliced, set a side.
  • Bell pepper – Used one small purple bell. Sliced it lengthwise and set a side.
  • Onion – Chopped coarsely and set aside

Let’s Cook the Marinara Sauce

Now I’m not one to feel like everything needs to be homemade but in this particular dish I decided why not go for the gusto and make the marinara too! It actually wasn’t that difficult especially if you did the prep above and chopped your veggies first. I do not like waiting too much so I went ahead and preheated the oven to 400 degrees.

I put about 2 tablespoons of avocado oil in a pan on medium heat. While that was heating I took the chopped eggplant, garlic, bell pepper, and onion and placed in the food processor and processed just until the veggies were at a nice diced size. That mixture was then added to the oil and sautéed for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Next I added the canned tomatoes. I added salt to taste and allowed to simmer covered on low while preparing the eggplant slices.

Making use of the eggplant ends in this marinara sauce its why we call this recipe Eggplant – Eggplant Parmesan. We have the slices as well and the diced flavor right in the sauce. The texture is a great meat fake out as well. Our daughter said to me, “Mom! Does this have meat in it?!” She said it in an alarmed tone since I don’t eat meat anymore. Gotta love those fake outs!

Let’s Cook the Eggplant Slices

You will notice that many recipes, in fact everyone I looked at, included a step to sprinkle the eggplant with salt and allow to sit to remove some of the bitterness. This I perhaps would have done if I were using a variety that this was an issue with but it is not an issue with this Thai Purple Ribbed eggplant. As I have said many times before, it has to be the sweetest eggplant out there!

I took two eggs, about 1/4th cup of almond milk, and a dash of salt and added to a mixing bowl. In another bowl I poured our bread crumbs and let the assembly line begin! This is a great place, if you want, to get the kiddos involved to speed the process along as well as have some family fun! I simply dipped the slices into the liquid batter then dipped them into the bread crumbs. Be sure to cover both sides very well. Then I laid the well covered slices onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Depending on how many slices you have it may take a very large baking sheet or you may need to cook a couple of batches. I spaced the slices so they weren’t touching. Some recipes added a drizzle of olive oil over the slices right before cooking. I did not do this but wanted to throw that idea out there for those who may be interested. Next I cooked at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Next time I will stop at 15 minutes as some slices got a bit crispier than I wanted. I did turn about half way through the cook time. I used about 3lbs of eggplant and of course this was too much. Since we added some salt to our egg/milk wash and since there is seasoning in the breadcrumbs these slices are very tasty eaten as is as an eggplant chip.

Let’s Cook – Put it all Together!

The fun part is layering up the dish. I started by placing a layer of marinara at the bottom of the pan to keep the meal from sticking to the dish. I just used a metal casserole pan. The order I used to layer was sauce, eggplant slices, then mozzarella. On the top layer I added basil leaves and a few extra slices of eggplant for a beautiful look! On the top most layer I sprinkled parmesan cheese instead of mozzarella. Baked at 400 degrees for 10 minutes with an additional 2 minutes or so on broil at the end to brown the cheese. After pulling from the oven I allowed it to sit five minutes then using a pizza cutter, cut slices for serving.

There you have it folks – easy as pie! We hope you enjoy making and eating this meal – from our family to yours!


Honey Fermented Garlic

COVID 19 has changed the face of the world in ways we are not fully prepared to accept. However with every generation that is just what we must do – adapt. We hope that the the case numbers lowering continues to be the trend. Until then we will continue to subscribe to the CDC’s guidelines to mask up. In addition, we are paying attention to our body’s immune systems by encouraging it to be stronger.

Enter fermented foods.

Fermented foods have been found to improve gut health and immunity. Many of us enjoy fermented foods in one way or another  – kimchi, pickles, and kombucha – all have made their way onto North American cuisine & we welcome them!

Our family just got into the world of fermented foods. I guess you could call it our COVID project. Our most exciting ferment thus far has been the most beneficial and that is the Honey Fermented Garlic. We have had several ask about how it was done since our post on social media back in August as a part of the #everybitcountschallenge. It is very simple. The most difficult part is peeling the garlic cloves! Here is what we did.

Steps

  • Peeled 2 large cloves of garlic and rinsed cloves with filtered water. Set aside.
  • Always best to use local honey but feel free to use store bought honey to experiment first as we did.
  • Wash your jar, ring, and lid with hot soapy water. We used one half pint jar the first time but if you go larger just peel more garlic accordingly.
  • Place peeled garlic into the jar.
  • Pour honey over the garlic. If you have raw honey at room temperature then this process can go a little slow as it tends to be thick. You could warm the honey slightly by allowing it to sit in hot water as you are peeling your garlic.
    • As you pour be sure to leave at least a half inch headspace in the jar. This allows room for the garlic fluids to drain out into the honey without overflowing your jar. It also allows space for the gases that result from fermentation to move around.
    • Watch the level of your honey. When it looks like you are at the half inch mark stop pouring and allow the jar to sit undisturbed for 5 – 10 minutes. This will allow the honey to settle in between the gaps of the garlic. This will push air bubbles to the top of the jar and your level will drop. Add more honey as needed and repeat the process until no more settling occurs and you have the half inch headspace. Be sure all cloves are covered with honey.
  • Cover with lid and place in a dark area. We covered ours with a cloth and left on the kitchen counter. You want to put it some place where you will remember to shake and burp jar daily.

What to Expect

Fermentation is a science with many variables. Your fermentation can be effected by many of these and may not go exactly the same way as ours did. This does not mean that you are doing anything wrong. For instance if your home is a little warmer than ours was at the time this data was collected then your ferment may move through its paces quicker. Alternatively, if your home is cooler, it may go slower.

  • Days 1 – 3 There was not much activity. I started to notice bubbles which is what you want to see but there were not very many.
  • Days 4 – 7 Now the process is in full swing. There were many bubbles and I was concerned about overflow so I burped the jar twice a day.
  • Days 8 – 16 Still plenty of bubbling and the ferment has become super fragrant. Thankfully I love the smell of garlic. Garlic cloves are changing in color which shows their absorption of the honey is taking place. The honey is also thinning which shows the liquid gold inside of the garlic cloves is infusing into the honey.
  • Days 17 – 30 Bubbling begins to slow. We did our first taste test at 21 days. The garlic flavor was still pretty strong and still had quite a bite but at 30 days it was much more palatable. I found it quite delicious!
  • Days 30+ You will notice the garlic cloves continue to change slightly in color. Just be sure to keep them immersed in the honey which shouldn’t be too difficult since by now they have absorbed quite a bit of it. The honey will be much thinner than when you started.
    • If at this point you absolutely love the flavor of your ferment you can halt the fermentation process by basically pasteurizing it. Pasteurizing is basically heating and then rapidly cooling your ferment. I cannot suggest this process as I have not done it. I personally like the idea of the process continuing however since I am taking some of the ferment daily it really will not last long.

Caution

Just like any home remedy you must be careful and do your due diligence and research! You may need to talk to your doctor before trying this or any fermented food. For some people fermented foods can cause headaches or even migraines. Also some research shows that garlic has some  antithrombotic properties so ones that are on blood thinners already will want to consult with their physician. I’m sure there are many other contraindications out there so PLEASE DO YOUR RESEARCH!

Benefits

I’ve read up on this little concoction and there seems to be many benefits. I, however, can only address benefits that I or my family have personally experienced.

  1. Decrease in blood pressure Since May I have been on blood pressure medication. I was disappointed but it came as no surprise for me since hypertension runs on all sides of the family. Diet adjustments and exercise just were not enough for me so I had to make this step. However the dosage that I was placed on, a low dose, wasn’t enough to bring my blood pressure to a normal range. Not wanting to increase the dosage, I began to eat one honey fermented garlic clove daily and noticed and decline in my blood pressure within days! Overall decrease is about 10 mm Hg systolic and diastolic.
  2. Treats cold symptoms – There have been a couple of times that the family has complained of a tickle in the throat. You know the one that you get right before you get sick. Each time I refer them to the honey fermented garlic and sometimes after one clove with a tablespoon of honey the tickle is gone! Other times a few doses have been needed.
  3. Increased energy – Since I am the only one that takes it regularly I have been the only one to notice this beneficial side effect. It makes total sense! Honey is a source of quick energy and garlic helps overcome muscle fatigue – especially that related to intense activity like that a farmer may do! The two together are a great paring. Just to be clear, I am not getting Mario star power from this but I have noticed that I don’t tire as quickly during the day and that my friends is a huge accomplishment!

There you have it! There is not much to the actual process but there is lots to consider as to whether honey fermented garlic is something for you and your family. Whatever you decide we just want you and yours to have a happy, healthy Fall – from our family to yours!


Baba Ganoush

This time of year our eggplant game is seriously over the top. We overwintered some eggplants in the high tunnel and planted many more because we didn’t know how productive the overwintered ones would be. As a result we have an abundant and beautiful array of purple, green, and white eggplant varieties at the ready. Last year we froze them and this year we have begun dehydrating our surplus as well. Still there is nothing better than the flavor of freshly harvested veggies and eggplant is no exception to that rule. So we set out to find a new & delicious recipe to utilize them. We didn’t have to look far. The recipe came to us in fact! A friend of a friend shared with us how she loves Baba Ganoush and I immediately took to Google to see if it was a simple recipe that I could possibly get my family to try. I was intrigued to find the word hummus even associated with eggplant but that is a real good way to describe this dish – an eggplant hummus! It was simple enough and it was a hit with our family and I’m sure it will be with yours too! Here’s how we do Baba Ganoush at Bain Home Gardens!

The Ingredients

  • 2 pounds eggplant
  • 1/4 cup of tahini
  • Oil of choice (we used avocado)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Parsley
  • Tony Catchers

The Prep

We will be roasting the eggplant at a very hot 450 degrees so go ahead an preheat your oven.

Wash your produce and go ahead and chop off the calyxes of the eggplants and chop your parsley too and set it aside.

Prepare a baking sheet and cover with parchment paper.

You may need a mesh strainer and will definitely need a basting brush so shuffle through those cabinets and drawers and pull these tools out along with a measuring cup.

Let’s Cook!

Most Baba Ganoush recipes called for Italian eggplant however that is not what was growing in the garden. We only had the Thai varieties so that is what we used. We are happy to report that because we did we were able to skip a step later on.

Cut your eggplant down the middle, lengthwise. Brush on your oil of choice on the meat side of the eggplant. We used avocado oil because it is what we had on hand however most recipes use extra virgin olive oil for this. After brushing on the oil place eggplant meat side down on parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cook for 30 – 40 minutes depending on the size of your eggplant. Our Thai Long Green Eggplant actually could have been removed about 10 minuets earlier than the Purple Ribbed variety.

As seen in the images above the skin of the eggplant becomes very loose and is really easy to peel off after they come out of the oven. Just be sure to let them cool about 10 minutes before trying that!

So a couple of recipes online suggested taking the meat out of the skins and placing into a mesh strainer to remove the naturally occurring water that is in the eggplant. The suggestion was to leave in the strainer (of course with a bowl below) for upwards of 10 minutes stirring as needed to help the process along. We did this for 5 minutes and after NOTHING came out we continued with the process. It could be that Italian eggplant has a higher water content than these Thai varieties. Not sure but moving right along…

At this point all left to do is to combine your remaining ingredients. Some may choose to do this by hand but I like to make use of my power tools and I used my blender. I added the eggplant, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, and avocado oil to the blender. I blended until smooth which didn’t take long ( 30 seconds or so). After blending I tasted the mixture so I could determine how much salt and Tony Catchers I wanted to add. I should mention that the recipe called for smoked paprika but seldom buy paprika so we just added a little spice with the Tony Catchers. After seasoning to taste we blended once more to evenly distribute seasoning and viola – done! Garnish with parsley when you serve. We forgot to harvest it and harvested it the next day and ate with the left overs.

How you choose to enjoy this hummus like dip is your choice – with chips, on pita bread, warm or cold – the options are endless. Our son was eating it by the spoonful with nothing at all! I guess Baba Ganoush rewally is all its cracked up to be!

For a short video of us making this dish click here. Here is a challenge for you: Try this dish with someone who does not like the flavor of eggplant and without telling them it is eggplant see if they like it. Let us know what happens! Happy cooking – from our family to yours!


The Goings On – October 2021

Why hello October! We are excited to see you! For a change we can actually feel it in the air. There has been so much activity here on the farm!

Reflection

When I look back at The Goings On for October 2020 I realized that this is the common thing this time of year for us. Last year it seems we had an abundance of eggplants as well. Our Scotch Bonnet Peppers reached their peak harvest period this month last year. This year, however they have been super productive since around June. This explains why we have several quarts in the freezer at the moment! I think the reason for this is that we over wintered some in Hoopty. We also replanted more in the high tunnel and in a raised bed. Yeah man – there’s plenty to go around!

Looking back I also see that we were harvesting Sweet Potatoes as well. I’m so hurt that we didn’t even plant them this year! What kind of homesteader am I – NO SWEET POTATOES?! See what happened was – of course this is how every outlandish story starts – I started the process of trying to order them super early. It must have been too early because the company we usually order from wasn’t even sure they were going to be able to order them this year because of shipping issues so they referred me to their supplier who quickly informed me that it was a couple months too early to order but to let them know what exactly I was looking for and they would email me once the slips are available to order. Here is the problem… once I sent them the information, my brain checked “buying Sweet Potato slips” of the to do list. So I’m sitting wondering where my slips are when I NEVER ORDERED THEM!!!! (FACEPALM) Yep, that happened. I blame it on the increased complicated nature of life due to COVID. This Fall/Winter we are building a deep raised bed that will be primarily used for root crops and planted with cover crop when not in use. I hope seeing this be will remind me to order appropriately! As a result I will not be able to offer the sweet potato bread this year in the Shena’s Baked Creations shop. Apologies folks. On the brighter side the shop will open on October 25th for preorders and stay open (baring unforeseen circumstances) till January sometime.

Last year our Asian greens where doing great! We already had one round in harvest mode while the next one had already been planted. This year we are one batch behind. We are also using a different variety of this year as well in an effort to find one more resistant to the beetles. We think we have found exactly what we need! They grow a tad bit slower but are holding up nicely!

Last year we started a few new crops to experiment with. One of these was Artichoke. We planted it in the high tunnel as well as in the field areas but neither did great. The most success was in the field areas which we will be trying again this month.

Last year our supplies for the community were more limited because were also planting for the Fall CSA. Since we are not currently participating in the CSA we have more options for our community and that in of itself is a reason to smile just a bit. We hope you guys take advantage of all our offerings over on our listings page or our Square Site. If you prefer you can always email or text us with a list of items you want to get and we can create a farm box for you and send an invoice. There are plenty of options for getting your home grown goodness!

Harvesting

Well if you haven’t noticed by our various Instagram and Facebook posts & videos peppers and eggplants are really overt the top right now! From sweet peppers to spicy peppers – all of them our growing so well right now. As a result we have been freezing the peppers to give me plenty to do this Winter when the farm chores are a bit lighter. As for the eggplant, the preservation technique of preference has certainly become dehydrating. We are using them quite a bit too in our weekly meal prep and also at breakfast. We also just learned how to make Baba Ganoush. Its a hit with this family!

We did get to harvest the potatoes and it was such a disappointment! The seed potatoes themselves weren’t even there! How is that possible?! Best we can figure is that due to the excessively wet season, perhaps they rotted and broke down in the soil. It was definitely one of the the strangest things to ever happen here on the farm. Our son, who was assigned the job, seemed to think I was pranking him because even at the worse harvest we have had in the past – SOMETHING was there. If you guys have any ideas as to what could have happened please do send me an email!

We just harvested arugula again and will be harvesting it once a month (if the planting schedule holds) through the Winter. That number could extend to every six weeks as the cooler months take hold.

Although it wasn’t a large harvest, in fact it was one single solitary pepper, we are so excited about it that we have to share with you that we harvested our very first Carolina Reaper pepper just this evening! You can celebrate this Bain Home Gardens first by watching the harvest here. Also the Fish Pepper plant that we found at Whole Foods is bearing beautifully! There are many peppers on the bush but we are waiting for them to turn red.

I am proud to say we have harvested the very last of the Thai beans for the year! These things have be so super abundant in their production this year that I literally became tired of harvesting, cooking, and preserving them! This is our third year planting them and I’m suspicious that they must just love the rain and heat we had this year because this is the by far the best year to date! We pulled them primarily because the leaf footed bugs and aphids were becoming an nuisance but I cannot say I was sad to see them go.

This month we also harvested a small soybean harvest. We had planted them with the mail purpose of serving as a cover crop but the harvest was a nice bonus.

Planting

This month is the month to plant our flowering bulbs, onions, and garlic. Although in our zone you can plant later, we find the most success when we plant in October. Beds are currently being amended to accommodate these heavy feeders. We are sticking with the garlic varieties that were successful for us this harvest season. We are primarily using our own seed stock to replant for this season while supplementing with a few we ordered. Finding success with the garlic crop this year means that we are in a new position to possibly offer our community Certified Naturally Grown seed stock come Fall of 2022! That prospect is absolutely mind blowing! Stay tuned!

As far as onions go we weren’t able to order sets before our sources were sold out. Now I am relegated to creating our own starts. For this I am late as well which leaves me no choice other than to plant these in the high tunnel. Besides that, I’m not very excited to plant onions because they are such a struggle for me. If it wasn’t for the fact that we use them so much I would probably would just give up on them altogether. Then I am reminded of the struggles I had with carrots & garlic – both of which we had a bumper crop of this year! The moral of this story is DON’T GIVE UP!

Last month we planted fennel, kale varieties, lettuce, parsnips, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbage, mustards, collards, peas, leaf broccoli, and swiss chard. You would think with all this planting we would be done for the season but that is just not the case! Some of these plantings were not successful for various reasons. We start early so as to allow enough time to restart if need be. Cabbage and broccoli are being stubborn for me so far but all a farmer can do is regroup and replant! I should coin that because that is quite literally my whole life these days!

Of the leafy greens we like to plant we have yet to plant spinach. Of the root crops yet (besides the aforementioned) to be planted is beets, turnips and a succession planting of carrots. As beds have been cleared and amended its clear we have the space to get these items planted, however, we just have to find the time!

We are taking what we learned last year and we are trying our hand at the artichoke again. I will be starting these indoors this evening!

The Flock

The flock is doing very well. I am very happy with just how well they are flourishing! Our brooder, Shrill-x has done it again and hatched out another chick. This one is not biologically hers but there is no telling her that! She does very well protecting her new chick and training it too. She gives Zig and Zag a run for their money at every feeding! Besides the newest chick she is the smallest chicken in the coop but it doesn’t matter – SHE IS MAMA! She trusts us with the chicks which is absolutely amazing! The chick on the other hand as you can see in this video does not! It is by far the noisiest chick I have ever heard! It was natural of course to name it Noisy! You can check out this video for more flock updates.

The Rabbits

Diamond on the way to the vet

We sadly lost 2 of our adult rabbits. It is amazing how quickly you can get attached to the little fur balls. To be on the safe side we took our doe to the vet. Did you know that rabbits are considered “exotic”. I find that ironic considering they are randomly in the wild all over our community. There is only one vet in our city that will see rabbits – one! Thankfully he is very knowledgeable and patient. He put her on a four week treatment & she is all clear. For those that have asked she has been mated to the buck and we should have kits available soon.

This Week’s Listings

This week we are making our Rosemary and Lemongrass available for purchase. The Lemongrass is only being offered the first two weeks of this month as we need to trim it back and mulch it soon to prepare it for the first frost. So if interested please grab it while it is available. Jalapenos were accidentally removed but have been added back. Arugula has also been relisted and Green Mustards remain this week until supplies are exhausted. For a full list of what is currently available head on over to the listings page.

Well that about covers it! See you in November!


The Goings On- Spetember 2021

Hello farm family! We hope that you and yours are doing well. On the world scene things have been quite tumultuous. We want to take a moment to send well wishes and condolences to those who have experienced loss in the wake of the latest disasters. Although we do not know, you we pray for you.

Fall Planting

So September is the month that most farms are succession planting those leafy greens and earthy root crops and we are no different. We began Fall starts back in July and they will be going into their planned spaces this week. Just what is on the docket?

Mustards planted with Marigolds
  • Kale – Since we started farming we found that kale really is our favorite leafy green! We love all types so it it ALWAYS included in the planting for Spring and Fall. Last Fall and this Spring we struggled horribly with pests and had a very minimal harvest. This year we are at it again! We have already implemented some prevention techniques that we believe will be very beneficial to the crops going forward. One thing is we are covering with mosquito netting from the start. This will protect from pests that prey from above. As for those that tend to live in the ground we plan to use pyrethrin as needed. So far we have started curly and flat leaf varieties. This week will will succession plant those and also start Lacinato & Red Russian varieties as well. Kale chips here we come! We also need to restock our greens powder and Fall is the best time to do so!
  • Mustards – They are our second favorite green. We like all varieties! This year in addition to our Red Giant & Curly Mustard we are planting a new variety called Ultra Violet. I’m so excited about this green I can hardly stand the wait! Our mustards suffer terribly from the beetles each year. They are notoriously hard to control. This year will try pyrethrin for them as well alternating with neem as needed. Alternatively we have interplanted some of them with Marigold flowers which we hope will distract some pests.
  • Collards – While we know most Southerners love collards we are not in as close of a relationship but what garden is complete without them! Of course you know we will be making these available to you as they are ready. We planted a small leaf variety and the standard large leaf variety and will continue to succession plant these until Winter. Worms target the collards like nobody’s business and can decimate a bed in no time! BT works wonders when applied regularly and reapplied after heavy rains.
  • Leaf Broccoli – A few seasons ago we planted broccoli in our high tunnel but we planted it too late or something. Either way, most did not form heads but we took advantage of the beautiful, tasty leaves. So this year we decided to plant leaf broccoli to have plenty to go around. Leaf broccoli tastes like a mix between kale and broccoli to me. We cook them the same as we do collards. Our first planting should be available by the end of the month.
  • Beets – We do not like beets, plain and simple but we cannot deny the health benefits so we always grow some to have in the freezer for smoothies. This year we are expanding the square footage planting more. If we get sizable roots we will be sure to let you know when we harvest.
  • Carrots – Again we are adding to our variety this year by adding more colors to the standard orange carrot we normally grow. Carrots did so well for us this year and we hope that means we have found the secret to the sauce. What is it you ask? Plant in Hoopty! The humidity of the high tunnel gives us the best germination for carrots that we have ever seen! We are also noticing sizeable roots and beautiful tops! What else could a farmer want?! I can say with confidence that the rabbits appreciated them!
  • Parsnips – When we first started growing for the public we had accidentally grew a bunch of parsnips. Accidentally because they came in an organic cover crop mix we used. That was our first encounter with the “white carrot” as our daughter referred to them at the time. We loved the flavor and have since tried to grow them unsuccessfully a few times since. They can be a little challenging to germinate. This year I think we have found a variety that will work. Time will tell.

Harvests

Pepper Harvest

We had planned to harvest our last round of potatoes but the rain had a whole other idea. As soon as we have some dry days we will hopefully get around to that. We are still harvesting peppers like crazy! We have come up with meal plans to include them in the weekly meal prep and we have also preserved them in many different ways. Two new varieties are finally coming into production and that is the Carolina Reaper and the Red Habanero pepper. Both pack a serious put you in the hospital punch, so we hear. The bushes are loading up with babies as I type and I should be able to harvest before the month is out.

White & Green varieties of eggplant are also in mass production. I have to say after trying for 3 years to grow the white eggplant IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT! I find it extremely funny that the eggplant varieties that most people love and commonly grow refuse to grow well on our farm. So you won’t find any Black Beauties (besides the humans) growing here – nope! You will however find those out of the ordinary varieties and we are just fine with that!

Long Beans are killing it! They have become quite the okra here of the farm. You best pick while your are looking at it because tomorrow it will be too big! Granted long beans are still edible after they reach longer sizes but not as a snap bean which is how our family uses them. This is the time of the year we prefer to grow the Thai Long Beans as they stand up best to the leaf hoppers, ants and (get this) wasps! Wasps love these vines! They hover around the flowers all day so harvesting must be done with care – not by me of course as I am deathly allergic. Our son harvests them for us daily and he observed that they are extremely docile after exploring the blossoms. His thought is that some chemical calms them to the point that he’s touched them with no consequence! There could be some truth to that after all who doesn’t feel calm after sniffing flowers – just sayin’.

We are always harvesting arugula this time of the year. It is our go to green of the Summer since the heat does not seem to be an issue for it. Succession plantings ensure we have plenty to go around!

Every Little Bit Counts Challenge

As we mentioned we participated in a yearly challenge that we just found out about whereby one preserves food items every day for the entire month of August. This is great because August can be a month of Summer abundance for many. This makes one more cognizant of finding creative ways to preserve their harvests. It did for me anyway. THIS WAS A LOT OF WORK! I did not actually make it every single day but only skipped maybe 5 days – one because I was simply too busy with other projects and the other days because of health and energy issues. I will definitely do this again. I can personally say this month forced me to grow as a homesteader. This month we tried so many things for the very first time:

  1. Raisins
  2. Eggplant Chips
  3. Honey Fermented Garlic
  4. Potato Flakes
  5. Ground Cherry Salsa
  6. Dehydrated Muscadine Leaves & MORE!

Home Life

Things have been a bit crazy here as far as home life. One huge adjustment our family is making is unexpectedly having another family member move into our home. At the end of March my brother came to stay with us. He is younger than me. He is also a special needs individual. This is where the crazy comes in. Our life is very busy as it is. Adding another person has just added a level of wild that we haven’t had to deal with in quite some time. We do not know how long this living situation will be but I have to say although it has been complicated he is adjusting nicely to our farm life. He has his farm chores which he looks forward to handling each morning and he has come to love the rabbits and chickens. It has almost been therapeutic for him. I have been working on a blog about how farm life can be beneficial for those with special needs. So many times we tip toe around these facts of life as if ignoring them will make them go away. I find addressing some issues head on is best. Many are caring for aging loved ones, sickly loved ones, or in our case ones with special needs. If we share ideas and techniques it creates a community where we can all find a little success. Who knows when I’ll get that blog done but be on the lookout for it.

The family has been very accommodating to my brother. Living with someone who has special needs requires compromise and structure at the same time. It is a tight rope to walk but this family with God’s help has done excellent. Our crazy silly attitude has risen above the challenges and created even stronger bonds of love and friendship.

Upcoming Videos

As we decided to join the every bit counts challenge last minute we were honestly way to wrapped up to get the videos planned for last shot, edited, and uploaded. So we will try all those again this month. Stay tuned!