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 .


FLASH SALE!

Each year we add another growing adventure to our belts because there is so much we want to learn to grow to sustain our family and bring to you – our community! Peppers have been at the top of that list since we began. This year we added 6 new peppers to the farm! They are growing very nicely. However this sale does not center on them but the oldie but goodies that over wintered in the high tunnel! Mr. Bain Home Gardener spent a good hour just harvesting peppers in the high tunnel yesterday evening. YES – WE HAD THAT MANY! Still there are more to harvest! So we are adjusting our prices just for today – July 12, 2021 for our flash sale. Each item has more quantity than usual at a reduced price as we want to move these peppers out today while they are fresh! Below is a list of peppers available. Remember orders before 2 pm. will be delivered before the close of that day. Orders after 2 p.m. will be delivered the next business day. Happy shopping!


The Goings On – July 2021

Summer is OFFICIALLY  here and while I love having the freedom from schoolwork with our baby girl, I could certainly do without the humidity! Notice I didn’t say heat. We have been getting a very steady supply of rain. As a result our temperatures as yet have not creeped up too high. The results on the humidity on the other hand is a whole OTHER STORY! Just checking the mail guarantees a clothing change! Let’s just say we are washing a lot more than usual! Fortunately, much of what we have growing now actually enjoys humid weather. Guess we just have to deal with it!

While the rainfall ensures everything is lush and green it also makes it increasingly difficult to manage pests. Squash bugs, aphids, slugs, leaf hoppers – ah the list goes on – thrive when the environment is moist. Not to mention many of our treatments for pest have to be reapplied after a rain. So you see how busy we have been! We have watermelon, tomatoes, and most recently some of our beans, fighting the above pests. The fight continues but we will stay vigilant!

Proper weeding goes a long way towards keeping the pests at bay. They have fewer places to hid and are easier to remove manually and much easier for our organic sprays to to find their desired audience.  This too has been a challenge due to the rain. Even with a scheduled program of weeding things can easily get out of hand. We find it best to spend a little time each day weeding. As we do we often find pests and are able to destroy them as we go, killing two birds with one stone!

Thankfully the pests have been a minimal problem in the high tunnel. Our pest exclusion system is certainly doing its job! The traps are changed out biweekly and the information is recorded. In the image to the right you can see Cabbage Looper (CL) and Squash Vine Borer moths eliminated from the inside! We are certainly thrilled to have any assistance in keeping the pests at bay!

All the hard work – we needed a get away! It was only a day that we got to break but it did just what it was supposed to! We felt so refreshed and ready to get back to the grind! We are planning more of these little mini vacays because we recognize this time together is a vital part of what helps us face day to day challenges along with staying vigilant prayer, meditating on God’s Word, and building our faith! These essentials cannot be lacking in our lives. It is okay to pause the farm to refocus.

Harvests

We began this month by harvesting our garlic. The oddest think happened with it- it was ready about 60 days earlier than projected! A few of our bulbs over matured and split. With the wild weather we have had, we aren’t actually sure why. It could be that this rate of growth is is normal for our particular zone. These split heads will make up some of our our seed stock for the next season. In a couple of weeks we will place them into the freezer to cold stratify them so they are ready to plant come October. Funny how when you’re a farmer you are always planning! We learned though exactly which varieties are good for growing in our soil and climate. Check out our analysis here.

We also harvested our first and second round of potatoes. The first batch was our Superior Early Potatoes.  We planted 5lbs and sadly only got 5lbs back! We aren’t sure if it’s the variety or again the weather. Our second batch, a red variety, of which we planted 5lbs yielded only 6lbs – what is going on?! While this is pretty horrible we believe we know the culprit is and have taken steps to correct the issue with the soil nutrients. Whether or not we are successful will be told with our third and fourth succession planting which has already been done. We are hoping the best! Look out for those results in the August and September newsletters.

We harvested our corn and potatoes on the same day. Corn harvest was really good for us! If you have followed our journey then you know that over the last few years we have tried our farmer hands at growing corn. First failure was soil content. Next issues was ants. This year we have applied all lessons learned and came out on top. We only wish we had planted more! It’s definitely been trial and error but much like the final success with carrots, we are well on our way to being even more successful with corn. We know it’s risky but we will be planting one more succession planting of corn this month of July. Stay tuned for those highly anticipated results!

While we love having a bumper crop we are happy to accept whatever the earth gives us back. So if it’s 5 pounds…  it’s 5 pounds of naturally grown produce that we didn’t have before!

Tomatoes are growing very nicely. If we can keep the leaf hoppers and worms off we should be good for the year. In our family garden we planted mostly Paste tomato varieties. We use tomatoes so often that we needed to restock on our salsa, tomato sauce, and this year we hope to can some whole & diced stewed tomatoes. If they keep producing as they are then there should be no issue there. In the high tunnel we have plenty of salad tomatoes or snacking tomatoes. These are excellent in salads or just eating as a nice snack.

Zucchini in the high tunnel is doing fairly well. While our squash and zucchini in the family garden had to be pulled though due to being over run with pests. Squash bugs, aphids, Leaf hoppers – you name it, they had it! While it was a little upsetting we did get to store quite a bit for the year so not all was lost.

Perennials

Perennials are a favorite of ours. We like that no  muss no fuss kind of life that they offer. On our property we have fruit bearing trees, bushes, and vines that fall into this category as well as a number of herbs, and of course asparagus.  Our newly established asparagus bed is doing fantastic! Our 5 year old asparagus bed finally gave us asparagus berries, better known as asparagus seed pods. We have collected these to save until we can figure out where we can establish a 3rd asparagus bed. Can you tell we love asparagus?!

Mint and Lemon Balm are doing great. We recently began dehydrating them and combining with other herbs like Basil to make loose leaf tea.  We will continue to experiment and we will let you know when our Certified Naturally Grown tea is available for purchase!

Our newly established rosemary bushes have been accidentally weeded and cut with the lawn mower and hedger and somehow they are STILL ALIVE!

Spanish Lavender is flowering while the English Lavender is just as green and lush as you would expect it to be after as much rain as we have had. Chances are they will not flower this year however I’m still holding out hope.

We are most excited about our Muscadine vines. We told you all about them last month but wanted to show you how much they have grown! I’m not sure when these will be ready for harvesting but we are keeping a real close eye on them.

The Flocks

The chicks are growing nicely. We settled on names for them. Zig & Zag. Zig is the one that genetically belongs to the hen and Zag is the brown one. They are very funny! If you missed our video documenting the experience of dealing with a Broody hen and meeting our chicks for the first time you can watch it here. Shrillex is the best mama hen ever! I absolutely love the call she does at breakfast and dinner. It is so adorable! Did you know roosters will make a similar call to let his girls know he’s found food!

Since we have allowed Shrillex to hatch these chickens almost all the hens have tried going into brooding mode. It’s made the daily egg harvest quite interesting.  One of our girls (the sassiest brooder) even growls when we open the nesting box… GROWLS! Well we call it a growl. Quite interesting! What she doesn’t know is that we plan to let one of them hatch out chicks again around September. I’m sure she will be pleasantly surprised! We hope to get more females as this batch will began to slow in their egg production by next Spring.

The other flock or herd that is growing is the rabbits. The babies are now two and a half weeks old and are already eating veggies and getting into mama’s feed. They have mama’s taste for fennel but they really don’t care for tomatoes. Thai is creating them their own channel and we may even give them their own Instagram page as well. We both have to just find the time to get it done. Stay tuned!

We have got so much more to tell you but we will save that for next month! Stay dry, hydrated, and keep growing – from our family to yours!

What to look for this month on our YouTube channel:

  • What was our favorite snap bean this year & why
  • How we skin our tomatoes for processing tomato sauce & salsa
  • Cold stratification – how and why
  • Turn unsightly spent sunflowers into chicken feed

The rain also made it impossible to record two videos we planned to for your guys. We hope to get those done this month as well! Be sure to like, share, and subscribe!


The Goings On – June 2021

Hello garden buddies! We have be growing a whole month since we last updated you on the farm but so much is happening!

Fruit Harvest

As we mentioned last month this year has been a real struggle with our fruit crop. Our nectarines are officially done for the year. We are sad to see them go especially since we had so many losses. Our one nectarine tree produced more than 30lbs of fruit this year which is far more than last year! However we only go the benefit of maybe 12 of those pounds. I want to cry. It is so disheartening as farm life can sometimes be. We lost quite a few early on with heavy rain and wind associated with thunderstorms. These fruit were no where near ready to harvest. All I could see after the rain was my blackberry nectarine jam laid out on the yard. Ugh! Weather is beyond our control but what was more in our control was treating for pets, the plum curculio to be specific. It wreaked havoc on our nectarine tree for the first time ever! For three seasons we have not had any issue with pests whatsoever and I guess we were being naïve to think that would continue be the case. In reality we are always fighting some pests on everything else and we thought we were catching a break with our fruit trees. WRONG! In conversation with a friend who had a peach tree for many years it was expressed that her family had lost many of their peaches to a bug that lays its larvae inside the fruit. She wanted to give us a warning since we had told her we had a couple of peaches on our young peach trees. We researched the bug and what do you know – THEY LOVE NECTARINES TOO! OH NO! Sadly there are not many options for organic growers for peach, plum, and nectarine trees. So we tried an option we are already using on our other crops. It was too late however. Lesson learned! Next year we will treat as soon as the buds begin to appear and again when they start to swell and color. We also hope to incorporate the use of these fruit bags as was suggested by our contact at the local extension office to protect our valuable crop. Hopefully applying these techniques will mean a much healthier harvest come 2022!

Also our blackberries were a bit of a disappointment. Well not them, the timing of life really. Just as the majority of them were ready to harvest we ended up on a 4 day hospital stay with our baby girl and we forgot all about them – JUST FORGOT! Seriously though our mama, papa, and brother bear were completely activated as we all did our best to stay calm for Ms. Thai as she recuperated. It is what it is! Blackberries will without fail be back next year and we will try this again.

On the brighter side of things our muscadine vine is finally producing for us! It was installed in 2019 and we were told that the following year we should be harvesting our first muscadines. Well 2020 was just a wild year – I think we can all agree to that. So with all the madness it was actually around Fall that we realized the vine didn’t produce. The leaves were beautiful and healthy but no grapes. I did notice that the flea beetle and stink bug had took up lodging in the leaves so we treated for that successfully. Just about a week or so ago I noticed itty bitty grapes forming on our vine! So exciting! You best believe we opened our Farming Basics app immediately to see what pests we needed to look out for! Thankfully they are the ones already common to our neck of the woods.

Our strawberries are really confusing me with their production. We did plant out more this year in strawberry tower instead of a second row in the high tunnel. We are finally over the hump with the slugs and now it seems just as quick as the production rose it has slowed. We are researching more to see if we can get a real grip on what is going on with them. If we can then Spring of 2022 we will start a second row in our high tunnel but that remains to be seen. What we have harvested we have used in oatmeal and for fresh eating. We really want to be successful next year because you all deserve to taste these organically grown, delicious local grown berries!

Flowers

We could not be more pleased with how well our new flower varieties are doing! We have already begun to make these available to you in our Spring Flower Bouquet. These will remain available throughout the early Summer at the very least. We are not quite sure how the new flower will respond to our HOT HOT Summers so we will wait and see if we can keep these available through Summer right on to Fall.

Vegetables

Zucchini varieties are up for harvesting! We have already added these to our listing page and we have helped ourselves to some ourselves. Last Fall we researched deeply the various Zucchini varieties trying to find a second one that will remain tender and flavorful even at larger dimensions. We are happy to say that we found what we were looking for! We have grilled them and skewered them with shrimp, sausage, and roasting peppers. This week we will be freezing them in different styles to preserve for the year. Man I love the flavors of Summer!

Cucumbers are next to be harvested and although I’m typing this in May for our June blog I’m sure by May 31st we will have harvested our first cucumbers from our field areas and following closely is our high tunnel cucumbers as well. We are growing all our usual fun varieties of cucumbers and look forward to making pickles again!

Potatoes are growing very well and our early potatoes are up for harvest this mid-June and late potatoes the end of July. As soon as we pull these the cycle continues with Sweet Potatoes which ironically is more closely related to the Morning Glory flower than a tuber potato!

Garlic is not due to be pulled till nearly August (based on seed to harvest days) however it is showing signs of nearing harvest earlier than projected. Along with the scapes we are noticing some of the leaves dying back and falling over. We pulled just one just to get an idea of the size of bulbs. What we found was very interesting! What is going on here?! It could be the heavy rains that we have gotten or inconsistent temperatures we really don’t know but that is another research project. The smell is amazing though. We have placed this harvested garlic out to cure with our onions. We grew more garlic this year than we ever have because we wanted to have enough to store for the entire year. If these bulbs are sizeable enough we should have enough for our spice blends and for storage.

Squash is already under attack by the dreaded squash bug! We have diligently searched them out and have been removing them by hand along with their eggs so here is hoping we can harvest a few before having to pull them altogether!

Long beans are back in production and should be in full swing by the end of the month along with snap beans. In addition to our usual varieties of beans we are adding this beautiful Blauhilde bean. I’ll give you one guess as to why this German heirloom caught my attention. Yep. IT IS PURPLE! In addition the pods are stingless and remain tender even at larger sizes. This is important to us as we eat snap beans several times a week! We planted our crop in the high tunnel as well as in an uncovered bed. For the first time we actually treated our seeds with an OMRI Listed inoculant. We think this will become a common practice for us as soil health is very important so if we can add a little to our black gold – why not!?!

High tunnel eggplants are in some production but we are storing these for the family use for the year. As they get into the swing of things they will be made available to the public. Field eggplants will likely not be available till the end of July. Why? Because Bain Home Gardens eggplants are straight DIVAS! Peppers on the other hand are killin’ it! Field peppers (jalapenos only) will begin being harvested this month. We began preserving some of our peppers by making a very hot Cowboy Candy with our Serrano Peppers. We will replicate it with the jalapenos as they become available.

Still there is corn, herbs, tomatoes and more all to be harvested in the upcoming months!

What Is Going In the Ground

This time of the year we are scheduled to plant at least one thing a week. Arugula, lettuce, Asian greens, and radishes to name a few. I like this time of the year because we are basically on auto pilot. We know if something is being harvested then something MUST GO INTO THE GROUND! The only big crops to plant for the season and that is Sweet Potatoes and peanuts and we hope to tackle them this month. We also have a couple of beds to turn over for planting, tomatoes that always seem to need pruning and beds that always need weeding! Ah – farm life!

High Tunnel Happenings

Hoopty has been getting much attention this season; primarily because we are making needed adjustments from information we learned last season. We are learning as we grow. We have often talked with you guys about the Alabama Beginning Farmers Program has be so beneficial to our growth over the last few years. This year we are working very closely with Dr. Ayanava Majumdar on our pest exclusion system for Hoopty. You more than like have already seen our video of the upgrade on the side walls. Now we have the front and the back as well with this improved netting. Air flow is so amazingly improved and this will benefit our crops especially as the months get warmer. Dr. A also has set out insect traps for monitoring different moths and pests on our farm both inside and outside of the high tunnel. This data will be collected biweekly and used to map the flow of pest throughout the state giving farmers a heads up for the seasons to come. I love being a part of this! Networking with like minded individuals and empowering growth with knowledge is such an amazing process. Our farm cat Lucy really likes Dr. A as you can see in the photo. Thank you Dr. A for being such a good sport! We think she just wanted to say thank you too.

Upcoming Videos

What can you expect over on our YouTube channel for the month of June? Well one of our hens (Shrill-x) went is broody and we are allowing her to hatch a few of her own eggs and some of the other hens donated her some eggs to hatch out too. We have been recording the process thus far and whether she is successful or not we will be posting the adventure. You can also expect that video. At some point this month we will also be posting a video featuring our cattle panel trellis and raised bed set up. This idea was born to create a bit more curb appeal for our family garden. Lastly we hope to post a potato harvest video as well. There is so much going on you best stay tuned – from our family to yours!


The Goings On – May 2021

Welcome back folks! Much has happened in the last month!

Fruit & Veggies

We have been working diligently to create more than a farm on our 3/4 acre corner of the earth. What we really want is a food paradise full of perennial plants and fruit trees. This legacy in the making is certainly an investment of time and energy and so much research! We know it is worth the effort though. This year watching our perennials return – mint, lemon balm, asparagus, strawberries, and thyme – was so rewarding. Just a few less items we have to worry about starting, hardening off, and then surviving transplant shock. Perennials really do make life easier. We plan to upload a video about perennials and self sowing flowers this month so look out for that over on our YouTube channel.

The fruit trees & vines fall into this perennial life that we love. This growing season we expect to harvest figs, nectarines, muscadines, and peaches. We are already harvesting (though rather sporadically) strawberries and blackberries. Sadly the Spring storms with their heavy rain and high wind have knocked down many of our nectarines. The trees were loaded twice as much as last year and we had plans to sell these CNG nectarines to our customers who specifically asked about them last year. Between that and the new pest that has found our tree, time will tell if we are able to do so with the losses as we use these for fresh eating for our family and to make our jams and jellies for the year. Strawberry production has picked up so we hope to be able to offer these to the community in the upcoming weeks.

As far a veggies go EVERYTHING IS IN FULL THROTTLE! Even with the temperatures being unusually low during most of the month of April we are thankfully not too far behind. We had to really hustle when the temperatures got close to freezing the first of April but we saved the seedlings. See what we did here. This month we will begin to harvest zucchini and squash from our field areas and cucumbers are not far behind. On the other hand the field peppers and eggplant have got quite a bit of growing to do. Corn and okra are also doing well but will do better now that the lows seem to be leveling out to warmer temperatures. Potatoes, although planted later than usual, are up and doing well. This year we purchased enough seed potatoes to do three plantings in succession to each other. The rain has already thrown off the schedule and that, although not ideal, is okay since our planting schedule was a tad bit aggressive anyway – gotta’ love over achievers!

Veggies in the high tunnel of course are thriving on the humidity. Eggplants have been producing flowers for a while now and now we are harvesting them. Pictured to the left are our Thai Long Green Eggplant. They are not very productive but they are kind of show stoppers if you ask us! Peppers – bell and roasting – are doing very well. They are on our listings page and we often go shopping ourselves since we love using these in our weekly meal prep. We have had to double stake some to keep branches from snapping from the shear weight of the plants. Hot peppers are also being harvested. Among the most productive are the Serrano peppers we planted last year. You can now find them on our listings page and our Square page. Our Jamaican Scotch Bonnet Peppers are producing again. We over wintered them in our high tunnel (along with the eggplant) and as a result we are harvesting them 3 months earlier than last year! We weren’t sure if it would be successful so we started more and trust us when we say that they will not go to waste! Last year we learned how to preserve them by making Jamaican Jerk sauce and dehydrating them – SPICY!

Hoopty Gets a Makeover

You heard us talk about increasing the airflow and balancing out the pest population simply by changing out the netting on the sides and adding it to the front and back. Well we finally got it done. On warm days there is a notable difference in the temperature inside as more air is free to flow. This will surely increase our productivity as we will be able to work for longer periods of time. This too will help control fungus that breeds from improper airflow. Our biggest goal however is to increase the number of beneficial insects so as to increase our yields this growing season and doing so while working with nature rather than against – it is a process! See how we did it here. The high tunnel is will be monitored and data collected so as to help us and future farmers in Alabama to increase methods of pest control specific to high tunnel growing here in Alabama. We are happy to be a part of this program. We have already learned so much!

Spring Bouquets

We had planned to have our bouquets ready to go the first of this month. Unfortunately that will not be the case. While we have flowers in bloom we do not have enough yet to commit at this point. It seems that we will though by the middle of the month, the end at the latest. Then we will have Sunflowers, Calendula, Zinnia and more in full swing! We love this wonderful opportunity to share a little more of Bain Home Gardens with our community.

Livestock at Bain Home Gardens

April was quite historic for us in more than one way. On April 13th we picked up chickens! You heard right CHICKENS! Perhaps I have shared with you before how badly I have wanted chickens for a while now. Even before I actually got back into growing food I met a Silkie chicken at a petting zoo and fell in love. I started pleading my case to my husband as soon as I could get home. Of course you know he thought it was just another hair brained idea of mine and it was at that time. As the years progressed I had an opportunity to taste fresh farm eggs for the first time. The color was amazing and the flavor was too! What had I been eating all this time?! I again pleaded my case but even I realized that there was too much going on in our lives to take on that responsibility. I sadly had to admit that we were not ready. Fast forward several more years and now we are growing food. We have a little farm and it has a name… NOW, NOW IS THE TIME FOR CHICKENS! I again pleaded my case off and on for about a couple of years as a friend endeavored on her chicken journey. As she did I actually applied myself to learning about what it actually took to raise chickens. Finally I got the go a head to get my chickens. We had some goals that needed to be reached as a family but that we could do. Fencing in of our property was one of those goals. When COVID hit things just got so complicated that we had to back table this goal. It made me sad but considering what was going on all over the world – it could wait. At the same time COVID made us realize how important it was for us to have chickens. Many trips to the store to pick up groceries ended up with us coming home with no eggs. Meat prices went up in our area. We kept thinking that if we had our own chickens this wouldn’t be an issue for us. Then we were heart broken as we watched the masses lining up to buy chicks with no research or real preparation only to realize after the fact how long it would actually take for them to lay eggs and that those hens would be living rent free in the meantime. Who knows what happened to all those birds.

Then on April 10th, 2021 I got a text from a farm buddy looking to thin their flock. “Are you guys ready for chickens?” the text read. I knew how I felt and how I would answer the question. However since hubby is the master mind behind much of what we do and he works so hard for the family and gives so much of himself to us all, I do my best to seek his direction at every turn. After some conversation and reflection on what we had and hadn’t done in our unwritten plan to have chickens I was given the go ahead to get the chickens! I was so elated! It was literally a dream come true! We got a lot done in the 3 days that would follow. We started modestly with 6 hens and a rooster. I usually do way better with documentation but this was so momentous that I failed in a lot of ways to photograph and video. What I did record will be made available over on our YouTube channel later this month.

It has been about two weeks and I love being a chicken mom. I love their personalities and quirks. We observed them and yes we gave them all names! Even more I love the beautiful and healthy eggs we get to harvest at the end of the day. These chickens were cared for very well and as a result they never skipped a beat with egg production. The very first evening of having them we collected 3eggs!

As momentous as that is, just a few days later yet another animal would find its way into the Bain Home Gardens lifestyle – rabbits! We are very excited to add 4 to our farm. They technically belong to the Jarod & Thai but you know we supervise and and have researched all things rabbits so as to assist. The most exciting thing for me I think is seeing them actually forage relationships with their little furry friends. There is something so rewarding about nurturing a life, loving that life, and getting that love back in spades!

Who knows what exciting adventures await us the month of May! We are buckled in and ready – come what “may”! (couldn’t resist)

Check out our April vlog here!

Check out our review of the Burpee Pop-Out Tray here!


The Goings On – April 2021

So it is officially Spring! Feel free to insert your own personal happy dance here! Seriously no matter what is going on nothing seems to lift my spirits like a clear blue sky! We have been very studious over the last month or so as we have enjoyed the weather. Check out what we have been into!

Planting

We have throughly enjoyed getting back into the swing of things. Daily watering, weeding, bug inspections, and such make us feel like real farmers again.

In addition to farm planting, this year we are really working towards creating more curb appeal at our home. Our home is one of two homes you get a visual of when you pull into our neighborhood. While we love growing vegetables and think that they are just gorgeous, we know not everyone may feel the same way. Therefore we have decided to dress up our raised beds a bit to create a little visual interest. We also added vertical trellises using cattle panel. These will be used for pumpkin and smaller melons. We also are working on a little farm retreat off the front porch. It is in this area that we have established a second asparagus bed. We planted the standard crowns but also ventured on the wild side and planted a purple variety as well. They both came up in a weeks time. This area also boasts our perennial flowers. They were so beautiful this year. It seems they bloom earlier and earlier each season. To this bed we will be adding aromatic herbs such as basil and lavender. Inter planted in this bed is also a new eggplant variety – Casper Eggplant. It doesn’t look like much now but give it about 2 months!

We also planted zucchini  plants in this retreat area. As you can imagine with the cooler night temps we had over the last few days we were a little concerned about them. We used a tried and true method to protect them and we are happy to say that all survived unscathed. You can see what we did here.

This month Hoopty got beans, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and cucumbers. We grew some great varieties of these last year and see no need to change them up this year. We did learn NOT to plant okra in Hoopty so that was planted elsewhere.

Lettuce, spinach, arugula, turnips, and snap beans have have been planted. Potatoes are going in the ground… finally… this week.

More compost is being worked into the remaining beds that need planting. Into those beds will go potatoes and corn.  Peanuts will be planted in the high tunnel (this is a first for us) this month too. In addition our new pepper plants are about to find their forever home in the high tunnel this month. We are adding 4 new pepper varieties to the farm this year. These new varieties will take our pepper jellies to the next level this Summer!

What We Are Harvesting

Monday morning we began to harvest the early carrots. They are so good! After this batch is harvested it will be another 3 weeks (more or less) before the next batch is ready. Grab yours while you can. We harvest to order so fresh it is!

For the first time (successfully) we planted our fennel in succession. We also planted leaf and a bulb type. Currently they are both being harvested. We love to freeze it when we have more than we can get to quickly. We just pull it out when ready and add to soups and smoothies.

While our flat leaf parsley has gone to seed our curled variety is hanging in there so it is up for grabs.

Swiss Chard, eggplant, and pepper varieties are all being harvested from the high tunnel. As soon as the temperatures warmed the flowers started appearing and now life is just doing what it is programed to do and I absolutely love it!

YouTube Channel

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We announced a little while ago that we have started a YouTube channel. Most of our video content is being uploaded there as opposed to IGTV. There you can follow our journey and learn with us. We also share tips and tricks we have learned on our little farming adventure. Included in these are helpful tools, equipment, soil amendments, & fertilizers etc. We appreciate your support of this endeavor. Eventually we hope to grow our brand even more so please to like, subscribe and share!

Pest Management

You may know that recently we integrated ladybugs into our high tunnel to assist us in getting the aphid population down. It worked very well. The next step in our pest management program is to remove the current netting and replace it with a looser one that will allow for beneficial insects to come and go. We hope to get that up this weekend. Of course this will mean more access to pests however minimal. We are so thankful for the assistance with this from our entomologist Dr. Ayanava Majumdar, aka the bug doctor, for helping us work out just what we need to do to improve our pest management program. If you access to an extension office in your area we advise you to take advantage of all the knowledge that exist there. It could save you time, money, and a lot of heartache.

Shena’s Baked Creations

We really enjoyed having this shop page open for you guys this past Fall – Winter. We have contemplated if we wanted to continue it throughout the Spring & Summer. While we would love to we have decided to take the modest route and not. We plan to reopen in the Fall. We will let you know as soon as we have an official date.

And Now This…

You may notice that this blog is a few days late. On Monday morning I was attempting to finalize it but time got away from me. I had some errands to run. We left the house to do these around 9:20 a.m. About 10 minuets later we were involved in an vehicular accident. I have to say it was very frightening. After seeing all the airbags deployed and the condition of the the vehicle after the fact I can honestly say that I don’t think I would ever drive any other minivan besides a Toyota Sienna. The safety features all worked as they should have and I’m know that had a lot to do with our lives being preserved. All parties involved are fine.

We adjusted our deliveries for a few days in order to get a grip on what happened, to heal both physically and emotionally. No one likes to talk about the trauma that occurs emotionally when an accident happens. Some even experience a sort of PTSD and it is so understandable. In 2017 we had an accident in the same vehicle pictured below. For months I tried to avoid the intersection where it happened as I got very tense when getting close. It felt silly. I felt silly. I prayed and prayed about it as the intersection is in the route of many of our daily destinations. Over the last few years it has gotten easier and easier to travel that stretch of road without feeling nervous. As I have talked to others who have had multiple accidents or a really bad one, they say that it left an emotional scar. They express that it is not something you ever really get over, rather you just learn to cope. Several of those lost dear loved ones and friends while others suffered serious injuries and then others miraculously escaped with little injury at all. Whether extreme or not these things take a toll on our existence. So if you ever experience this don’t feel ashamed at all. I certainly do not.

The very next day after our recent accident I had to complete the business I was leaving to complete the morning before as it was time sensitive. As I got into our truck and adjusted the seats, steering wheel, and mirrors, I admittedly felt some nervousness. I prayed. Being in a big Ram truck certainly made me feel a little better too. The soreness is real. I type this blog 2 days after the incident and everything hurts but what a small price to pay!

We wish you and yours well and we will catch you in May!