The Goings On – May 2023

There’s dirt in my shoes, sweat on my brow, eggs in my apron, and seeds in my pocket. All these descriptions would fit any of the Bain family, especially this time of year. May was no different.

Endings and New Beginnings

May marked the end of our MICROgreens by BHG Spring Session. It was a great season! The flavors ranged from radish to amaranth to even clover! We sampled all of these ourselves, and we have to agree that healthy eating has never tasted so good!

We also loved mingling with customers on delivery days, and we loved surprising them with Shima on one of our delivery days. We are already gearing up for Summer. We have plans to include fruit microgreens over the summer. Yeah, you heard correctly – FRUIT! If you are local to Dothan, Alabama, we invite you to sign up here.

The high tunnel is full of beautiful flushes of red tomatoes. We’ve enjoyed eating them as snacks, on skewers, and soon, we will begin incorporating our Cherry tomatoes into our focaccia bread, which will be available next week at the Poplar Head Farmer’s Market. We enjoyed our first couple of Saturdays with the other vendors, and even when we weren’t attending as vendors, we visited as customers and boy we are glad we did. We restocked our local honey from Providence Farm. We love it in our coffee each morning. We were also happy to find oxtails at the Lewis Premium Beef tent. Hubby showed out with this meal. Although I do not eat meat anymore, I was more than tempted! We were pleased to find a natural bug repellant from Wildcrafted. The bugs are awful this time of year! Gnats and mosquitoes make it particularly difficult to accomplish farm chores, so we were thrilled at the prospect of not having to apply chemicals to our bodies that we can’t even pronounce. The owner actually reached out to us to see how effective the spray was for us. I’m telling you this ain’t happening with OFF! Shopping local to your community is so important. Small businesses are in tune to what your local needs are and will work with you to produce an effective product. Your local farmers work hard to supply the local food chain. Small farms specifically need your support. It means the world!

Eggplants are beginning to ripen. We are so excited for their return as we do not buy these from the store. If we don’t grow them, we purchase them from another organic local farmer, like Hawkins Homestead Farm. Along with organic veggies, they also raise organic poultry and pork. See, local is definitely where it’s at! We learned how to make Baba Ganoush and have been hooked every since! Its been a long time coming and we are ready to welcome it back!

Sweet potatoes have been planted where kohlrabi once lived. We are happy to have the opportunity to experiment with a few different varieties this season. Since last year was a bust for our sweet potatoes we are really hoping to get a sizeable crop this year. The mistakes of yesteryear will be the wisdom of today. You can see what varieties we planted in the video here.

Flowers & Eggs

The sunflowers have really showed up and showed out this year for our Flowers by BHG subscribers. They have gotten larger than ever before. As you know we are a on a corner lot in a rural subdivision. The sunflowers greet you over the top of the fencing as you come into the neighborhood, as if they are saying, “Welcome to Bain Home Gardens.” Since they are so large, the weekly bouquets have been rather large too. Our lady bugs have turned the large leaves into, how should we say, a motel of sorts. We are sure to relocate them before feeding leaves to our ravenous rabbits. In addition to the large sunflowers, our dahlias made a grand entrance as well! Talk about impressive! We really hope to add more color variations to the homestead as the seasons come and go. Of course we are always succession planting everything and flowers are no different. We have started Zanzibar, Zinnia, Daisy, Gladiolus and more for the Summer and Fall sessions. Flowers by BHG Summer session begins August 21st and will run through September 18th. Again, if you are local to the Dothan, Al area, we invite you to sign up while subscriptions are open. Sign up for Summer session ends July 31st.

We will only be offering the 3-6-5 package in the Spring of each year as the egg production can fluctuate throughout the heat of the Summer and decreased light in Fall. However, for now, the girls are laying well. You can purchase their beautiful butt-nuggets here.

High-Tunnel Planting

I was saddened recently as I did my daily inspections in Hoopty. It has never been this empty this time of the year. Numerous health issues and start failures have the high tunnel looking rather empty. What is there is very healthy and beautiful and that is what I chose to focus on. I also set down and came up with a planting schedule that would put us close to back on tract. Before the month is over we hope to have our next planting of tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplants set out in Hoopty. As for herbs we do want to get another planting of dill, & basil. Since Parsley overwinters well, we want to get it planted as well but a little later in the year, August perhaps. Our next planting of Sunflowers will also be in Hoopty as we are running out of space in the field areas. Finally we plan to add a few rows of bush beans along the rows with our eggplants and cucumbers to save space. This does leave us with one row still to be planted in the high tunnel. However, this row is in need of some compost so it will lay fallow until we can afford to purchase more compost.

Soon it is going to be beyond hot. We will need to get big planting and big projects done right away to avoid doing them at the height of Summer. Among these projects is completing the kennel for our Brady-Smore. Can you believe he is nearly 6 months already? He is also growing so fast that he’s outgrown two crates already. So when purchasing this last one, we just bought the largest one we could find recently in hopes that it is growth proof. We hope to get a video posted soon on the channel of Brady showing off all the commands and tricks he has learned. Perhaps we can get that uploaded before the month of June is over.

Speaking of our YouTube channel, we happened to notice that we have reached over 100 subscribers. Our daughter brought that to our attention. Our goal is to inspire others with various circumstances to work within those and create their own version of a homestead. We want everyone to know whether you grow big or grow small – JUST GROWING SOMETHING is better than growing nothing. To the 100+ subscribers that we have, we hope we at lest have conveyed that message to you & we thank you! As you watch videos we invite you to share them with others and post to your social media outlets. We’d love your help to grow this channel! Let’s show the world that the homestead doesn’t have to always, if ever, look like a picture from Home and Gardens magazine. However, it can and still will sustain your family! Till next time guys – love those messy yet sustainable gardens!


Spring Plant Sale 2023

Our annual Plant Sale is here! This year we will have a smaller selection of plants but just as healthy and just as prolific! Below you will find a list of what will be available for pick up at the Market on Foster event on March 11th or delivery to your home after March 11th as long as the weather continues to show no frosty nights. As shown below this date excludes herbs and vining squash, which will not be available until April 1st. This year our plantings schedule for flowers was thrown off by health and weather so unfortunately we will not have flowers this Spring.

Listings are being uploaded to the shop as we quickly as we can. Until we add everything the varieties below are what you can expect to see!

  • Tomatoes
    • Beefsteak
    • Tiren (San Marzano type)
    • Garden Peach
  • Pepper
    • Shishito
    • Banana
    • Sweet Italian frying
  • Herbs (not available until April 1st)
    • Basil
    • Sage
    • Parsley
  • Cucumber
    • White Wonder
    • Burpless
    • Lemon
    • Apple
    • Beit (pickler/slicer)
  • Squash
    • Zucchini
    • Straight-neck
    • Gold Zucchini
  • Vining Squash (not available until April 1st)
    • Pumpkin
    • Delicata
    • Custard
    • Acorn

Balsamic Onion Pickled Eggs

Let’s talk eggs! This time of year we find the girls are super productive. It’s like the last push as the daylight hours decrease. Just what to do with all those butt nuggets?

There are many ways of preserving eggs – dehydrating, freezing, freeze drying, water glassing. Today, though, we are exploring a more tasty option – pickling.

As you search the internet you’ll find all kinds of techniques for pickling and canning eggs for shelf stability. However, the National Center for Food Preservation doesn’t not have a shelf stable recipe. The only recipes they have are for refrigerator storage and it is not recommended to store pickled eggs at room temperature. We store our pickled eggs in the refrigerator. There they can last up to four months but they never do in our home! Let’s get started.

The Ingredients

  • 1 dozen small – medium eggs
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Small red onion
  • Pickling salt
  • Cajun seasoning

The Prep

  • Jars – this is not a sterile project but of course you’ll want to clean your jars well.
  • Eggs – boil eggs to your preferences. We use mix a tablespoon of baking soda in the water to make peeling easier. IT WORKS! We put aside any that are damaged while peeling. We eat those right away.
  • Onion – chop or slice to your preference. Whatever you choose you’ll want to make sure the size is compact so as to not take up too much space in your jar.

Let’s Cook

Since this is a small batch we are doing things a tad differently than if we were doing a large batch. Since the brine we will be using would be hot we did warm our jars in the oven. We do this by placing just a tad bit of water on to a baking sheet and placing our jars on top into a 170° oven as it heats up. We leave them there until we are ready to use. You could just as well use your dishwasher or use hot water.

We layered our ingredients into the jars as tightly as possible. We started with the onion. After the onion, we packed those eggs in as tightly as we possibly could! Using small to medium eggs makes this much easier. Of additional benefit is that of using wide mouth jars.

After the jar is packed as tightly as possible we then poured in our balsamic vinegar to about 3/4 of the jar. Then we poured our apple cider vinegar in the remaining 1/4 of the jar. Be sure to make sure all the eggs are completely covered. At this point we did have to remove one of our eggs.

Now, using a strainer, (since these are being prepared just for our family, I used my hand) cover the jar securely and pour liquid mixture into a sauce pan. Add Pickling seasoning and Cajun seasoning (always to taste). Bring to a simmer. Pour brine over eggs. Secure with lid & ring. Allow to cool before placing in the refrigerator. If you want to seal the jar flip it upside down. The heat of the brine will seal the jar. Keep in mind it will still need to be stored int he refrigerator.

The hardest part of this recipe isn’t the cooking but THE WAITING! Wait a minimum of 2 weeks before cracking open your home pickled eggs! Trust us, it’s well worth the wait!

The Results

Our family was very adventurous in trying this recipe. I recorded video but haven’t convinced them to allow me to share it with you guys yet. It ended up being closer to 3 weeks when we tried these. Out of 5 only one family member didn’t like the flavor at all and another simply preferred a different flavor (Jalapeño Ginger) pickled eggs. The eggs do take on an ashen grey color on the outside but in the the brief time they remained in the fridge the Balsamic color didn’t reach the yolk although we think that would be quite an interesting looking egg! The Cajun seasoning flavor is there and it definitely enhanced the flavor however the heat was lost. If you are wanting a hot pickled egg we suggest perhaps adding actual peppers instead of just the seasoning.

We would love to hear from you if you try this recipe. Tag us! We would love to see your results!


The Goings On – February 2022

Hey there February! We missed you! While there is plenty to do in the month of February much was done in January as well. Check out what went on in the last 31 days.

Planting

January has been cold and boy do we welcome that! It is also the month we try to get our bulb onions planted. We are happy to report that we have checked this off our planting checklist! This year we planted two varieties: Texas Sweet & Red Creole. In addition to those we also planted Lancelot Leek. We have never grown leeks before but man do we love a good leek and potato soup! Onions are a staple food for our family. I cook at least one meal a day using them and sometimes we have them raw in salads and salsas! We love to have our own of course but last year just was not the best year for onions for us. We hope that this year will be much better.

We also added a few more perennial flower bulbs to to the ground. We have many already established from previous seasons so we are only adding varieties now that are new to us. This year we are adding Lilly and Allium to the flower garden. Although we have not planted them yet we are also adding flowering herbs to the flower garden. These will be used in our flower bouquets but also used in this seasons tea blends and tinctures we plan to make. Speaking of the flower garden, if you would like to have beautiful home grown flower bouquets delivered to your door then the Flowers by BHG subscription is just for you! You can secure your Spring subscription here. This year delivery for Spring subscription begins May 2nd and will run through the entire month of May. Dates for the Summer subscription are tba.

Back to planting. We have started many seeds for the 2022 growing season! Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant are started and are growing nicely. We hope to have them ready to be planted in the Hoopty by March 15th at the latest and March 1st at the earliest. Although we are preparing for the Spring and Summer we cannot forget to plant those more cold hardy plants such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and kale. All of these have also been started. While we have been blessed to harvest Winter cauliflower this January, we want to get a second harvest early Spring so we are starting these plants now to set out in March. Some of these will go into the high tunnel and others will go into raised beds. Carrots, fennel, and kohlrabi will be direct sown this month. We want to plant more green mustards and collards however we are at a loss as to where we will plant them as we are already running low on space! Ah the life of the micro-farmer!

Harvesting

January was a big month for harvesting here! We harvested salad turnips and for the first time ever we had enough to share, eat, and freeze and dehydrate! It was definitely busy a couple of days getting them processed but we are so thankful to have had an abundance to store for our family for later in the season. After all, have you seen grocery prices along with the supply chain issues?! Cauliflower heads for the Winter were small but again we are thankful to have these tucked away for use at a later time. We also continue to harvest snow peas and brussels sprouts leaves some of which we have also had the pleasure of storing. We even processed the stems of the brussels sprouts by dehydrating them and then using the food processor to pulse into a powder that we can now use in smoothies or anything! Side note – WE LOVE FRESH SNOW PEAS! We have eaten more than we have frozen! Oops! Our field snow peas have definitely dropped in production due to the below freezing nights we have had but I have confidence they will pick back up.

Our hot, HOT peppers died on one of the below freezing nights simply because I forgot to cover them with the frost blankets. Silly me! This meant that loads of peppers had to be harvested and processed for dehydrating! I am so thankful that the Cosori dehydrator puts off less fumes than our previous dehydrator since it was well over three pounds of peppers we had to process. We find doing this at night while everyone is sleep and while the temperatures are lower in the house is great because no one is effected by the slight odor that does result and the heat it puts off helps warm the house. Win-win! Honestly the dehydrator has been a real work horse lately. We processed a pound and a half of parsley in it over a matter of a few days taking breaks in between. It takes about 7 hours at 145 degrees to get the parsley at the desired texture.

Special Announcements!

We have tried our very best to protect our family, friends, and community by wearing our masks, social distancing, and getting vaccinated. We feel good about our efforts as a family. Thanks to having been fully vaccinated and boosted and a slight change in family dynamic we are ready to attend farmers markets again! We are not sure yet exactly what markets we will be supporting this coming season however we will keep you posted.

While we look forward to entertaining farm visits in the near future we have to slowly get back into the community so we are not there yet but when we are you will be the first to know!

Several of you have already reached out regarding our Annual Spring Plant Sale. We are so glad that you know where to go to find healthy organic plant starts! Unfortunately, this year we will not be doing an official plant sale as we have done in years past. If and when we have extra plants we will create listings for them and inform you over on our Instagram and Facebook pages. We did learn that Hawkins Homestead Farm will be doing their plant sale this year so please do check out their organic plant start offerings!

Finally, we have been reworking our website behind the scenes to build a shop instead of a listings page. This is taking some time to be sure (just learning Woo Commerce ins and outs) but we “hope” to have our new and improved shop available for you by March 1st. This will allow you to create an account and have a cart to which you can add items to rather than having to purchase one item at a time. I know that has been frustrating for many of you but we thank you for your patience as we have attempted to get ahead of the learning curve with this new software.

YouTube

We are proud to say that we are back on track with regularly uploading videos! It feels good to be back on track. This Summer we hope to have reached enough subscribers to start doing some giveaways. So please do like our videos, subscribe to our channel, and share our content with someone you think would enjoy our journey. Each time you do you support our farm as we work hard to support our community. We appreciate you! Below you will find a list of videos from January. We hope you enjoy!

It was short and sweet but now you know what is going on over at Bain Home Gardens. We will touch base with you in March!

This Weeks Listings

We have plenty of greens for you guys from mustards to collards to kale – WE GOT YOU! Take advantage of our Greens Box or or Farm Sampler baskets while we have an abundance to share!


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 Going Ons – September – October 2023

At last, the air is feeling as it should. The temperatures have dropped, and it is officially SWEATER WEATHER! As I pull out the turtlenecks and hoodies, I reflect on 2022. There was much more abundance and less complications. We are behind yet again, and it’s all on me.

These Hips Do Lie

I mentioned health issues in the previous blogs. Specifically,  spina bifida, which comes with a host of other issues. One currently being monitored is my bilateral hip dysplasia, which isn’t all that uncommon. It basically means that my hips grew abnormally. This condition is graded in stages 1 – 4, 4 being the most severe. To help you better understand, my hips are at a stage 3. Stage 4s are usually only seen in developing countries. Follow?

As a result of the dysplasia and other congenital deformities, arthritis and pain are just a part of who I am. Hubby called me tenacious smany years ago when we were dating, and it is a fair representation of who I am. I’ve desired to be at the helm of my own ship, not cocaptain to pain and my many imperfections. So, I’ve worked with orthopedists, neurologists, and physical therapists over the years. With their help and the awesome support system I’m blessed to have, I’ve been able to manage these symptoms and lead a fairly average life. Recent event though have required some, how shall I say, reevaluating. Th3 hip pain is with juzt cause as there is much degradation shown on x-ray images. Thus, my awesome team of doctors have determined that these hips need to be upgraded. Tentatively, the most problematic hip would be taken care of first, likely in late spring/early summer 2024, followed by the next hip the following year.  Since recovery will likely take longer than most, due to my medical history, we are having to seriously plan and adjust to make sure the farm doesn’t suffer while the BHG team aides me to recovery.

Adjustments To Our Services

They say nothing good comes without some sacrifice. Unfortunately, this seems to have merit within evaluating what we can and can not do the upcoming year. With heavy hearts, we have to let you know that we will not offer the Flowers by BHG for the 2024 season. I am the primary arranger of the bouquets, and there is no way to really know how well things will go. Also, most of our flowers are not consistently ready until late spring. Additionally, our 3-6-5 by BHG will not be available for 2024. Not all is lost. Howeve

Our Eggs by BHG will be available but offered separately in the spring of 2024 as a stand-alone service.We felt that the family could handle this as they have already shown their aptitude for caring for thr flock, knowledgeable of egg shell law, and efficiency at washing and packaging our eggs.

If our flowers are something you look forward to each yearnwe have a little light for you too. We will make our flower bouquets available on our shop page as we have them for those interested. This takes pressure of me and allwos me to work as I have the strength to do so while recovering.

Given the approximate timing, we have decided to offer a Winter 2023 (December 18th – January 29th) & Spring 2024 (March 18th – April 29th) microgreen session. The family is already in training for these sessions to ensure your microgreens continue to be top noch!

We will take summer and fall off to recuperate, recalibrate, and hopefully resume the Winter 2024. We just want to emphasize the word tenative! The Winter 2023 session of our MICROgreens by BHG is now open for those interested.

Lost Time & Lost Plants

As aforementioned, limitations in my mobility have really cramped our farming style here at BHG. We have lost time crucial to ensuring our spring & and summer crops are successful. This includes putting beds and rows rows to sleep. That in itself can be time-consuming. One has to remove existing plants, ammend soil, then cover with leaf (which needs to be raked up first) mulch or weed barrier fabric.

Also, our bulbing plants, like garlic, are planted this time of year (October 1st for the last couple of years) to allow for cold stratification over the winter. This year, we ordered more garlic than we ever have! It is important to plant a few weeks before the frost so plants can get themselves established before dealing with harsher winter temperatures. So far, we have only planted a fourth of what has arrived in the mail. The delay? Well, we need to prepare the location. This area was covered with soybeans during the summer as a cover crop, for soil enhancement, and a small section for eating. However, when time came to mow and tarp the plot, issues ensued! The short version – it did not happen. So the area is more than a bit out of control and is in need of some serious taming before we can plant anything! We saw the chickens scouting for bugs this week. Hopefully, they took care of any pests for us. That is one less thing to worry about!

Days confined to the bed also affected our seedlings. These tender babies need more care than larger established plants. Water but not too much; light but not too much heat; cool but not freezing! You get the idea. Well, Mama Shena was not able to do these things, and as a result, we lost some important trays. Our artichokes died. We lost our Brussels Sprouts as well. These were most disappointing because timing is everything with artichokes and Brussels Sprouts in our particular zone. We may try it again, although chances for success have dramatically decreased.

Preparing for Tea Season

What is tea season? Well, for us, we use the winter and fall months to process our summer and fall grown herbs for teas and spice blends. Although we grow year round, we have less activity in the winter because, as of yet, we are not enrolled in any Farmer’s Markets outside of the summer. This time of year, it is also much cooler, so it is not uncommon for our dehydrator to run nearly nonstop with various tea ingredients. We have a few gallons yet of Roselle to process. We have completed Goldenrod. Mint and lemon balm are yet to be harvested. This makes me nervous as there will be some just above freezing temperatures this week! Hopefully, we will be spared frost and be allowed to gather these goodies soon.

We call this time of year tea season for another reason. As the cooler wind blows, it beckons one to sit with a warm drink, hoodie, and book on the weekends. Why not a nice herbal tea? For our fellow tea lovers out there, we will be releasing our roselle tea in loose leaf packages. These will be added to our store sometime in the month of November.

Our tea garden has grown to include various herbs over the last few years, and we will continue to expand. It has become our little apothecary of joy. For instance, I tasted a stevia leaf for the first time this month. It was so sweet! Green but SWEET! I’m hoping this plant especially survives the winter and returns in spring.

Are there any particular herbs you’ve been looking for? We are happy to include them in our growing plan! Just let us know.

Figgy

This is the first year that our fig tree (aka Figgy) began bearing fruit around the same time as other fig trees in our area. It is normally later in the season before we can enjoy the fruit deliciously sweet fruits . This year, we rejoiced as our bounty came in earlier & in abundance. Oddly enough, Iggy also decided to give us a second harvest of fruit. This second round is not nearly as sweet as the first round but still delicious. We are new to fruit trees, so we are curious. Is this a normal occurrence? No complaints from us for extra fruit, of course, just broadening our understanding.

Harvesting & Planting

We made time to harvest our sweet potatoes from our Ollie raised bed. Given the fact that they were fairly neglected, we are happy with what we were able to glean.

All roselle has been harvested and almost all has been processed for storage. This was an intense undertaking as it is twice the amount we harvested last year! Yet again, we were caught red-handed. That never gets old!

Garlic, peas, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Swiss Chard have all been planted. Still carrots, beets, fennel, cilantro, collards, mustards, spinach, arugula, kohlrabi, celery, onion, and leek – to hit the popular veggies – are yet to be planted. Since it is fairly late into the season we, we likely will not get a large harvest until spring. And that is just fine. Taking each day as it comes, with all its amazing drama, joy pain, and mischief, means our schedule may not look like the average farmer’s, but then again, have you met the Bain family? Not on purpose, I assure you, but we are an out of the box family for sure! We really would not have it any other way!

Fall is going to be as busy as ever! We better get to work! Catch us on our on the next adventure!


The Goings On – July 2023 – August 2023

Life never ceases to amaze us. Things have been so extremely busy lately between preparing our daughter for her final year of high school and doing college prep, doctor appointments for me and the dog, and keeping up with our ever-growing chicken flocks and rabbit tribe – WOW! With all the upside-downs and slippery slopes, it’s no surprise we made it through July with no newsletter! Now it is September! To save ourselves some stress we thought it best to just combine the last couple of months into one concise blog. Read on!

Brady-Smore Bain

On July 22nd Brady hit his 7th month of his life. As I look at him, it’s so hard to process that much time has passed even though he is quite the large lap dog. His puppy ways are fighting against adolescence. He has become a tad bit more stubborn, which is to be expected as we muddle through this next phase.

Training is going well. Did you know that service dogs must learn a minimum of 30 commands? Brady is knocking them out one by one. In fact, as soon as he hears the treat bag he heels. It’s quite the spectacle. I assure you you’ve never seen a “shake” performed in such an adorable manner. However, mamas tend to be partial. We hope to get a video of him showing off his newly acquired skills in September.

Brady gave us a big scare when a large golf-sized spot began to grow under his neck over a hot July weekend. By Monday morning it was pushing tennis-ball size! As soon as the vet was opened we called and got worked in. It was an infected cyst. It had to be surgically drained. Brady spent the night. It only took a nice long nap and a bowl of food to reset him back to his normal shenanigans. Him is a tough boy. Mama on the other hand is not so tough and cried all the way home from the office. Isn’t it amazing how quickly we become emotionally connected with our fur babies? I think this is what God purposed for us when he created them – a loyal, loving bond.

Gigantor Squash & Small Pumpkin

Farming with friend’s and family makes the process that much more enjoyable. For us, the exchange of seeds and seedlings with our garden buddies is a fun way to keep growing exciting. This year we were able to see results from one of the beautiful winter squash and pumpkins we received from fellow growing enthusiasts. We should have placed hammocks under these large winter squash which we believe to be a cushaw variety. One harvested itself due to its own weight being more than the vine could bear. This is to be expected being that these Squash weighed 8 – 10 lbs! There was no need to be too upset as we could use these immature ones as summer squash. Those would be the green ones in the gallery below. Afterwards, we made a hammock for the one that was hanging higher. It just so happened that the others were lying on the ground and needed no support. Those would be the tan to orange-looking ones in the photo gallery below. We enjoyed cooking two different recipes with them. Both were delicious and fed the family all week long! If you are looking for crops to feed large a family we suggest growing a few cushaw plants. We harvested 4 off one plant. Next year it would be very nice to get at least 12 for the season. This would give us one a month as the year progressed. That is ideal, however, we will not be sure until we know just how well these hold up to storage. We will let you know. If you would like to see a bit more about our harvest and cooking of these beauties check out this video.

Oh and there was mention of pumpkins. Since we had such a good harvest last year, which we have not even begun to use, we were planning on leaving it off the planting list this year. However, when friends offer you free organic seedlings you just do not say no. We did have to pull them far earlier than we wanted resulting in harvesting a few that were still green. It is my belief that the green ones can be used as a summer squash. If so we will be using them as such.

Hoopty Empty Yet Flourishing

As you open the door to Hoopty you are teleported to another world. It is humid & lush with growth. The tall, dark green leaves of the roselle reach for the sky but are unable to get there due the weight on their stems. The beautiful other-worldly looking calyces are growing quickly. It is time to begin harvesting. With temperatures upwards of 110° – 120° during the day, this must be done early in the morning or late in the evening, that is if one wants to do so safely. While the roselle enjoys the extreme temperatures, not much else does. The only other surviving plants in the high tunnel are a few perennial herbs, some basil & zinnias, and about 6 or so eggplant bushes.

Dormant rows in Hoopty that have been allowed to lay fallow over the summer will soon be awakened for Fall Planting. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Kale, Arugula – to name a few – should all be planted by the time we type up our next blog.

A Second Chance Fall Garden

This Spring and Summer held many challenges for my own personal health but also that of others in the family. This kept me away from the farm when the farm really needed my attention. We didn’t harvest nearly as much as we usually plan for our own food storage and preservation. This the whole reason for living the homesteading life – to feed our family clean, fresh produce! Since our Summers tend to be long in that the temperatures usually take a while to drop, we are replanting staple Summer grown foods. It is almost like we get a second chance to get it right! Among these second chance crops are squash, zucchini, okra, and cucumbers. We decided to really give it a shot and even restarted eggplant, tomatoes, and some melon varieties as well. Time will tell if we will find success or not. However, it will never be said that we didn’t try!

What Can I Purchase From Your Farm?

If you had asked us that question just a week ago we would have said: “weeds”! Truthfully, the heat has killed much of the produce that was growing and the pests have taken the rest. This is to be expected this time of year. Egg production has risen and fallen several times. However, we are able to keep eggs in stock for now. This is largely in part to the girls of the February hatch-out having begun to lay. The roos are absolutely stunning! I just can not bear to part with any of them, so we are working on integration now. So far, so good! If you will recall, when we had multiple roosters hatch before, we allowed them to grow up together, and they naturally adjusted to each other, developing an interesting method of “managing” the ladies. One key is to make sure there are enough hens per rooster. Right now, our numbers are balancing out perfectly. Soon, though, we will need to thin our flock by removing hens and roos coming out of their prime. This makes sure we have a steady supply of eggs and the ability to sustain our own flocks by using our own fertilized eggs to grow.

As far as the growing, our roselle leaves are listed under leafy greens on our shop page. These are a great addition to salads or good all on their own. Our tea stock is increasing as we harvest roselle leaves and calyxes and dehydrate them. Eggplants will be listed as they are harvested. If you are looking for other items, please check back in a couple of months as many new items should be ready for harvesting.

Thanks for bearing with us and our delayed blogs. We ask for your continued support by liking and sharing our blogs and our videos on our YouTube channel. It is such a small thing but it helps! Till next time…


The Goings On – June 2023

As Summer takes full hold of Southern Alabama, there are a few things that become common place. In our neighborhood, the sound of little ones playing with each other & their puppy dogs is welcomed chime that reverberates in the wind. Around lunch, the many working parents come home and check in on their young ones, some transporting children for summer activities while others are placed back on track for their daily chores, and by afternoon, it is quiet. The roosters occasionally join the birds in song, slowly giving way to the buzzing of pollinators with the sporadic humming bird tossing a hum here and there. This is one of the scenes we invite into our summers each year. Other scenes, however, are not so alluring.

Constant Rain & Thunderstorms

It is an uncommon situation to complain of too much rain in the summers of Alabama, yet it is precisely what I find myself doing. It seems as soon as hurricane season arrived the scary weather ensued. High winds, weather sirens, flash flooding, & lightening strikes were a week long or more occurrence during this month. Some nearby towns even experienced tornado damage leveling buildings and homes. Our hearts go out to those who experienced such power up close and personal. Our homestead was fortunately not terribly affected. We have still a lot of loose leaves to rake and random items to reorganize but we are truly thankful to be ok.

The skies create such ominous art just to become something completely different by the time the storm is over, sometimes minutes apart.

Heat Advisories

The wind presented some challenges with our last week of the Flowers by BHG Spring session. Many of our flowers sustained damage or were broken altogether. Thankfully, we were at the end of this session, and the flowers we grew in the protection of Hoopty were able to fill the gaps of what was lost. This reminded us of a valuable lesson to never put all our eggs, one basket. The reminder even changed our planting schedule for the remaining of the season. Inclement weather is fully out of our control. However, by splitting crops between the high tunnel & fields, should there be damaging winds or heavy rain, as there have been, some of our crops can be persevered. That is a door that swings both ways. In the case of extreme heat or pest, infestation in the high tunnel, field planted crops would be the surviving crops. Of course, we prefer there be no issues limiting our bounty. One can dream.

We all know that Summer in Southern Alabama comes with a vengeance. This is not a new development. No matter how old the news is, it is no easier to deal with! Previous years, before livestock, we would simply wait the summer out, only being outdoors early mornings or late evenings. Now that we have chickens & rabbits to tend to, the summer brings more chaos and concern than ever before! Along with ensuring that plants are watered and shaded adequately to thrive, we must do the same for the animals. This means checking on them throughout the day, especially when temps rise above 90°, to make sure they not only have water but that it is nice and cool. At times, they will get frozen snacks. Other times, ice in their waterers is enough. It takes diligent effort to keep them happy and healthy.

Minor Inconveniences

As some of you know, I personally deal with several chronic health issues. Most of my diagnoses are related to bone, joint, and nerve issues, which at times can greatly limit my mobility. It is in those times, which seem to happen more often as I age, that planting schedules fall behind and we have losses. Although I do not participate in much of the manual labor for the farm due to my health, when you are family owned and operated every effort counts. Since my husband works full time for the family and volunteers time to assist our congregation, his time for doing such things is limited. While our 16 year old hopes to complete high school a year early, she is still working towards completion. Our oldest son has a home, pets, and a full-time job, so his time is golden as well. So you see, there are very few laborers available most days to do the many chores to be done. However, maintaining the day-to-day things, our daughter, myself, and my brother do manage, & quite well, I may add. You see, my brother, while intellectually disabled, is physically sound. We joke and say we make a whole person together. I seldomly address my physical limitations in the blog in times past because I have tried not to be defined by it, rather to be strengthened by enduring it. Oddly enough I hold myself to high standards (so I’m told) even with my physical limitations. This has suited me well over the years. Most of the careers I have chosen – nursing, photographer, farmer, homesteader – require good physical ability. I may be a little crazy but I love to succeed where it is not so clear to the naked eye that I will. I remember being a young child recuperating from surgery. I was in what, looking back, must have been physical therapy. That was the first memory I have of my mom telling me to wipe the word can’t from my vocabulary. Mom lovingly pushed me to do the best I can at everything but especially the things that are difficult. To this day that mentality drives me. I does require balance, admittedly. I think that as long as my endeavors are so for the right reasons, I will continue to have the support of my family and friends but most importantly, my God – the foundation of my victories, small and great.

When there are more items on the to-do list, such as fall planting that needs to be started yesterday, that we run into issues. Being a grower with significant health issues definitely has its challenges. I find it does make me more efficient, however. Each step must count, as there are limited ones I’ll have before the body rebels. I often leave the house with my garden apron full of many random items and seeds heading up the hill to the high tunnel. I’ll remain for hours should body and temperatures hold out. The saying. ” you may come running over but you’ll be limping back” comes to mind. I have to laugh at myself. Many times, the endorphins from doing what I love overrides the discomfort until I’m done. Our daughter calls me an overachiever because I push myself. They all look after me very well!. even the dog I can’t be trusted to my own devices. I’m to determined to do what I love because what I love is what my family, in fact every family on the plant needs – to be growing clean food with their own hands. Let not these minor inconveniences get in the way.

Spring & Summer In Review

If I had to use one word to describe the Spring and Summer growing seasons I think it would have to be interesting. While we had wonderful success with crops we hadn’t previously like kohlrabi and collards, other produce items that are generally easy to grow for us such as okra, cucumbers, and squash just did not do well! At one point I really expected someone to confiscate my farmer card. Squash = I mean, COME ON! Thankfully, friends and fellow farmers Hawkins Homestead Farm has been able to supply us with some goodies we’ve had trouble with. We got some big, beautiful cucumbers from them recently. We were thankful to have them as a source for organic produce. Right now they have their Seasonal Farm Box available for purchase. If you are local to the Dothan, Al area, consider supporting their farm.

I do realize that anything we are able to harvest from the land is something to rejoice about. Therefore I’m attempting to adjust my thinking from success and failure to more of growth, still learning, and could improve.

Our subscription services ran fairly smoothly this season so we can put them in the growth column. We hope to gain even more supporters and the years go on. Ideally we would like to support more local restaurants. That is why we attended a Restaurant and Farmer Networking Event hosted by Sweet Grown Alabama at the end of June. The idea was to bring locally grown products to the attention local stores and restauranters. I have to say it was very nice and informative.

The most growth we have had thus far I feel to be our chickens. They are growing nicely and last years new additions started laying just when we needed them to. I’ve really dropped the ball and haven’t taken individual photos of the teens yet. It is our hope that the teens that are slowly being integrated into existing flocks will begin to lay in by late summer or early Fall. Either way, come Spring 2024 we should have an even more beautiful array of home grown butt nuggets!

Those local to our area please feel free to check out our shop page as we have just updated listings adding our roselle leaves and eggs!! Till next time!


The Goings On – April 2023

The age-old saying, “April showers bring May flowers”, has rung loudly the last few week as we have had much rainfall. The farm has exploded with life. Everything is green and full of hope and promise.  Come along for a brief update of what our last days have entailed since March.

Planting

The month of April boost so much planting that we literally couldn’t keep up with the schedule we made for ourselves! The first round of soy beans have been planted along side our feed sunflowers and squash. We have enough space in this plot to plant another row of sunflowers and soy beans which will be done within a few days. These sunflowers will be used primarily as a feed supplement for our animals. As feed cost continue to rise we have to find sustainable avenues of caring for our flocks organically.  Rabbits will partake of the stems and leaves and the seeds will be harvested for the chickens. The goal is to plant in succession until Fall. This should provide a steady supply of additional feed and hopefully offset our feed bill during the warm months. Even the soy beans are a feasible option for feed. The leaves are safe for the rabbits and the cooked beans are are an outstanding source of protein for the chickens. While this is not likely to be something we do, as we have a small market for fresh soy beans, it is nice to know that it is an option.

Okra, roselle, and corn have been planted, and all are doing well except the corn. Germination was only about 50%. We believe that heavy rains lifted our seeds to the surface and the birds helped themselves. As a result, we will be replanting that plot. The corn that has germinated is growing beautifully. The Three Sisters method we did last year would have been even more successful if we had chosen a less vigorous bean. We are still deciding if we are using this technique this year with a different bean.

The primary variety of okra we are planting this year is Motherland okra from saved seed from our original planting of seeds from Baker Creek. These okra plants grow fast and attain very high heights. We are entertaining the idea of using these giants to train our pole beans to climb. It would be an interesting sight, to say the least. What do you think?

Roselle has been planted in the high tunnel and will soon be planted in an outdoor plot. We learned last year that it takes just a few roselle to have a nice harvest. However, since then, our tea blends have taken off! So this year we will be planting double the amount of roselle we planted last year! It will be a lot to keep up with the harvesting and dehydrating. Of this, we are well aware. It comes along with the territory.

Eggplants & peppers have been set out in the high tunnel, but only a few have been planted in the field plots. This worked to our advantage as we lost quite a few of each and needed to replant them. We think the loss was due to high temperatures directly after transplanting combined with inconsistent watering while I, farm manager, was recuperating from tendonitis. With this second planting, we were able to replant in a string of rainy over cast days. This allowed the plants to become well established and effectively cope with the high temperatures in Hoopty.

The cucumbers that were planted in Hoopty immediately took to the races! We have several right now with fruit on them. The ones in the field plot, however, are taking their sweet time. There is just something about the humidity in the high tunnel that the summer plants absolutely love!

Growth

That we have great gratitude for the rain is an understatement. The time it saves us when rain falls from above is precious. This time is able to be used for planting, weeding, inspecting, or whatever else our hands may find to do. The rain has blessed all of our March plantings. Lettuce, Choi,  & Asian Greens set out on March 20th are ready for harvest today, April 24th.  That is quick! We are not complaining at all. We got off schedule with our secession planting of the above as there should have been a tray of each ready to be planted as these are harvested.  However, that imaginary tray remains on our to-do list. As farmers’ market season will be in full swing next month, we can not afford these kinds of slip ups ANYMORE!

Our perennials are back in full swing! We are always happy to welcome them back. Lemon Balm, Wild Bergamot, Mint, Garlic Chives, Asparagus, and all the fruit & flowers are growing ecstatically as they have been programmed to do by our Creator. Lemon Balm was previously in a raised bed, so I was very interested to see how removing the bed would affect the return. It is a tad smaller than it usually is by now. We are hoping that as the season progresses, it will continue to rebound. We have come to love our Lemon Balm teas! We have seed still, so if push comes to the worse, then we will establish another plant. Bergamot also has become a welcomed flavor. I love to sneak it into dishes and see if the family notices the change. Hubby is often the first to inquire, “Can’t quite put my tongue on that flavor. Hmm.” That’s me! Finding fun ways to tease the pallet with goodies from the garden. Soon, the Bergamot will flower, and at that time, we will begin harvesting, although I can’t promise I won’t sneak a few leaves in the meantime.

Onions are ready for harvest. We simply haven’t had the time to pull them and begin curing them. This year will not be the bumper crop that we had last year, and we are not crying about it. We expected that our first time growing our own starts from seed would have its own issues. The onions we do have ready to harvest are a mix of ones we grew from seed and ones we grew from Dixiondale Farm. It will be nice to contrast and compare the two.

Sometimes growth can happens too quick and cause issues. We women are very familiar with stretchmarks resulting from pregnancy. Thankfully our skin CAN stretch! Veggies however are not equipped for sudden growth. We’ve seen watermelon, radishes, tomatoes, and even beets crack or burst due to and influx of water causing swelling of plant to the point of no return. We had not had the pleasure of seeing this with cabbages until recently. You can view that video here.

Although there isn’t rain falling indoors, there is still much growth happening in Hoopty. We have blossoms on the tomatoes, and cucumbers are growing on their luscious green vines! This is such a welcomed sight as we have been craving these particular homegrown veggies the most during the fall and winter. To say that the store bought ones are not the same would be a huge understatement! We left plenty of space on the cucumber row for succession sowing and to plant our Basil starts. This will guarantee we have plenty of cucumbers through the season for markets as well as for preservation projects at home. It is also a nice way to conserve valuable space. As far as tomatoes go, we finally got a few set out into the field area but have a whole tray to go! The hold up is preparing a space to plant them. As you know, nearly all of our wooden raised beds have been removed due to decay. We have yet to order and install the Olle Gardens raised beds we are planning to replace them with. This means that 90% of our planting space is in Hoopty this spring.  That is a little nerve-wracking when you consider the results of the heat wave from last year. Our plan to navigate any losses due to heat waves this year includes shade cloth and hoops. We are also planning on planting plenty of tomato, cucumber, and pepper plants outside of the high tunnel as well. It’s like my Mama always said, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket baby.”

We can’t speak on growth without mention of the chicks and bunnies. The chick are doing very well! They each have developed their own personalities and its becoming easier to determine the males from the females. Mama is still with them however that is about to change this week as we are giving them a run with in the larger run to protect them from the larger ones. They will be able to observe each other without being able harm the chicks. When time comes to merge them with the other flocks it will not be as if they do not know each other at all and it will be less of a shock to the chicks. Of course pecking order is just going to happen. We have learned there is no avoiding this determination of their hierarchy in the flock. We just monitor to be sure no one chick is bein abused excessively. We want to do our best to moderate any bad behavior and ensure all the girls are happy. This crew will be our Spring 2024 layers. By then they will be in the prime and ready to keep us stocked with colorful butt nuggets!

The rabbits have almost all found their forever home. Of Cher’s group four are left of nine and of Sweet Pea’s group one is left. We decided to keep the only female from Sweet Pea’s group whom we have named Calypso, after the legume… get it? She is a take charge kind of girl and knows no strangers much like her father. She is also very sweet. We look forward to watching her grow up. We are at the precarious time where the kits are old enough to begin mating so we will be separating the remaining girls from the boys very soon. We continue to have them for sale. If you are local to the Dothan area, please do reach out for more information.

Then there is Brady. Oh Brady! My fur-baby is already 30+ pounds and a huge goof ball! He fits right in! He is very smart but is not friends with the heat. He also need for good naps throughout the day to behave as he should. This means he has to be engaged mentally and physically enough to be tired enough to feel the need to recharge. He will not nap out of boredom! He will instead find mischievous ways to burn his energy. This is one thing we expected as it is well known of this breed and many other energetic breeds. We have several toys for him to play with indoors as well as out. His favorite activity now days seems to be fetch. He hasn’t quite mastered bring the ball TO YOU but he will bring the ball PAST YOU in hopes to get you to chase him. Speaking of chasing, he loves chasing the cats. They have no problem putting him in his place though if he plays too roughly. The chickens too are becoming more aware of Brady the bigger he gets. We are training on not nipping at them as he corals them back into their runs. This is a challenge because we are working against his DNA. It is our hope that with monitoring and intense training we can continue to help this sweet boy be the best dog he can be! Phase one of the fencing for the farm is almost complete! No one is more happy about that than our Brady boy.

Setbacks

It seems that every time we are on to a good routine there has to be some sort of setback. Many times, it is out of our control – weather or, in this case, health. Recently, I began having pain in my right foot and ankle. Those who know me know I deal with chronic health issues already, so pain is no stranger to me. In fact, pushing through the pain is also no stranger to me. That is exactly what I did for a whole week until I realized all my nursing and diy treatments were ineffective and another medical professional was needed – a doctor. I went and was diagnosed with tendonitis. It’s been a tough couple of weeks trying to heal during such a busy time on the homestead. I get the distinct feeling that this will be a reoccurring issue that surfaces from time to time. You gotta love aging!

Our nectarine tree, Rosie, had the most fruit it has ever had this year, and sadly, we ate the least fruit we have ever. A new challenger has taken the scene this season, and it ruined our harvest! I wanted to cry, but we have learned much as each season has passed from our various fruit trees. For that reason, the tears did not fall. We took to our Farming Basics app and found out that our newest nemesis is a fungus called Monilini fructicola. As it grows, it causes brown rot. It is pervasive! It causes the fruit to become mummified many times before it is even ripe. It affects peaches and plums, which are all planted next to Rosie. We have found that copper based fungicides are an organic treatment to this newest of challenges. We have also found research that says that even with copper treatment, organic farms regularly lose 75% of crops due to this fungus. No wonder there are no organic stone fruit growers in our neck of the woods!  One of these years, we will get it right, hopefully while Rosie is at her prime and before the plum and peach trees are affected. At that point, there will be CNG stone fruit growing at Bain Home Gardens!

Subscriptions

Egg and microgreens subscriptions are moving along nicely. Flower subscriptions have not yet begun as we had to post pone the start date. The date to begin that subscription for the spring session is still tba. We did have to pause for a week as I recuperated. However, we are back on track. We have the absolute best patrons! Many of them offered to come assist us on the farm to take the load off of the family. That is the definition of CSA! My heart was so full of appreciation. If you have a CSA near you, find out about their practices and see if you can support them. Your support means so much to these farms. You also increase revenue for your local economy. This year we were able to use the funds from our CSA’s to purchase OMRI Listed soil for the high tunnel. Though we were not able to buy enough for all 936 square feet, we were able to take care of more than 75%! That is a huge undertaking! So if you are supporting Bain Home Gardens in any way, subscriber or otherwise please hear us now – WE THANK YOU!

We started this blog post on April 24th. Today it is May 8th. That should tell you just how busy we have been. There is always much to do. Right now there are cabbages waiting to be fermented and Kombucha to bottled to name just a few tasks waiting on us. It makes me smile. I read some where to look around and appreciate the things you have to day that you dreamed you would have yesterday. When I do that I just say wow!

The next time you hear from us we should have attended two local farmers markets. We will update you on those then. Sending well wishes – from our family to yours!