Growing Onions

It is always rewarding, and in our opinion better tasting, when you grow food yourself on your own land. You know where it came from, what you put in to it, and each step in between.

“Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”

1 Cor. 3:8

Getting Your Onion Sets

You should be able to find onion sets at most local farm stores. You will usually find yellows, reds, and white. In our experience, the reds (AKA purple) store the worst, yellows the best, and whites in the middle. We usually plant three of the bags that the farm store has. We have a good time each year playing ‘How many are in the bag’ as a family!


Early Spring is the time to plant your onions. We prefer to plant our onions on little hills. We found that planting them in little ditches makes them hold the moisture in. In our experience, this causes the onions to rot and not store well.

So, with a hoe, make small hills, about 6 inches tall. Once you have finished, push your onions one by one into the top of the hill, leaving only the stem sticking out of the ground. You want to place them about 4 inches apart from each other, so they have room to get good sized.

Nourishing the Plants

We like to put grass clippings (from the yard, not hay necessarily) in between our onion rows. We add another layer every couple of weeks. This helps to add nitrogen to the soil for the onions, as well as keeping in the right amount of moisture for the onions as they grow. This is very important when the heat of summer comes. The grass clippings also help a lot in keeping the weeds down in the onion patch. If you start to see buds come onto the tops of your onions, clip them off if you do not want them to go to seed. If they go to seed, the onion itself will not be good for eating. But if you want to keep seed, you can let a few go ‘bolt’ and there will be seeds for you at harvest time.


When the tops of your onions bend over (die), it is time to harvest! The onions will not continue to grow after this happens.

To harvest your onions, all you have to do is pull them out of the ground and lay them out to dry. The below idea will help them to dry out as fast as possible. Make sure you have them under a roof, out of the weather. You don’t want them to have any moisture in them when you store them, or they will rot, regardless of the color.

If you decide to lay them on a flat table, you will need to be flipping them every few days so they will continue to dry and not just send the moisture deeper into the onion.

Pulling your onions and seeing how much they have grown is a VERY rewarding time, and it is a great time to Praise Yehovah for your blessings and give him thanks!

Storing your Onions

When most of the tops of your onions are brown and there is no moisture left in it (rather than being bendy, the tops will be brittle) it is time to store them.

We like to braid our onions, the same way we do with our garlic. See below, and also our Garlic post.

When you have finished braiding your onions tops, hang them in a cool, dark, dry place.

I hope that this encourages you to grow your own onions this year! May Yehovah bless you this growing season and in the coming ones!

How To: Start a Southern Magnolia from Seed

And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.

Gen. 1:31

When we moved to our new farm, there was a beautiful evergreen Southern Magnolia tree in our new front yard. We liked it so much (and so did our goats; they love to eat it’s leaves, which are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants!) that the little ones decided to try and grow a few more. Below is a post written by one of them, on how they went about getting their new ones to grow, from the seed of our tree.

To get started, in the fall, you will see little red seeds in seed pods, like the one in the center picture above. Collect the biggest ones when they start to fall out of the pods. Let your seeds dry for a few weeks.

When your seeds have dried, get your pot(s) that you want to plant in.

Fill your pot(s) half way full of dirt, and the other half with manure until it is pretty much full.

Put your seeds into the dirt/manure about 2” deep. If you plan to plant more than one, you can plant them in the same pot in the beginning about 2” apart. Once you have planted them, water them lightly.

Continue to water once daily. Find the balance of keeping them moist; not too wet and not too dry. You don’t want it muddy, you want it damp. If it is too dry, the dirt will be cracked and crumbly. If you get your soil too wet, you will rot out your seeds before they can start to grow.

In about 3 weeks, your plants will start to sprout. Keep up with the watering, and once they are about 8” tall, transplant them into their own individual pots. Let them get between 1-2′ before planting them into your yard.

For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Is. 55:12-13

Growing Your Own Potatoes

Potatoes are one of our favorite things to grow. They aren’t the easiest thing to grow, but the harvest is a very rewarding time. And like most things, homegrown potatoes taste the best!

Picking Out Your Seed Potatoes

First you will need to buy your seed potatoes. Most local farm and hardware stores begin to carry them in the late winter and early spring. A good seed potato will have little sprouts coming out of it, also called ‘eyes’. They are sometimes a little squishy, but this is okay as they will just end up rotting in the ground. You want to look for a light blue tag on your potato bag, to make sure it hasn’t been treated with chemicals to keep them from sprouting. (see below)

You will want to get enough seed potatoes that you will have enough to eat on until next years harvest, and some left over to plant. Then you will not need to get seed potatoes next year!


You will want to plant your potatoes in the spring. You need to know the frost dates for your area, to get an idea of when to plant them.You can plant them about two weeks before the last frost date, as they won’t be above ground until after the last frost is expected. If you do it earlier and they start to pop out of the ground before the frost, the frost will kill them. It can be hard to wait, when you get some warm days and want to plant, but it is worth waiting so you don’t have as much chance of loss.

When you are ready to plant, you just need your potatoes and a good hoe. With your hoe, make a hole big enough to put your potato in. Then, put a whole potato, or a couple of little potatoes, in each of the holes you made, the ‘eyes’ (or side with the most eyes) pointing up. The more potatoes you put in, the more potatoes you will end up with when harvest time comes!

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

2 Cor. 9:6

When you are finished putting all your potatoes in the holes, sprinkle them with sulfur. We do this for a better harvest, as well as to keep bugs away. Sulfur helps them with nitrogen uptake, amino acid formation, and vitamin and mineral synthesis.

Add some water to your hole.If your soil is poor, like ours is, it is a good idea to add some manure into the hole as well.

After you have done these things, you want to hill your potatoes. You can do this with a hoe or a garden rake. Manure the hill again when finished. In a month or so, you will see them start poking out of the ground!

Example of potato ‘hilling’

Nourishing the Plants

In the spring and early summer, you will probably not need to water if you get sufficient rainfall. Keep an eye on the moisture of your soil, and that it doesn’t get too dry.

When your plants are 3 months old, or 3-4′ tall, they should start to bloom. If they don’t they might need more nitrogen, or they might be low in magnesium.

If they need more nitrogen, add manure. If they are low in magnesium, spritzing them with Epsom salt water will help them begin to bloom. You will add 1 TBSP per gallon of water.

If they still don’t bloom, it DOES NOT mean there are not any potatoes underground. We had a year where there were only a handful of blooms in our whole patch, and we still had a good harvest.

Around this same time, you will want to hill your potatoes a second time.


When the plants are laid over, dry, and dead, this means it is time to harvest!

Do not dig your potatoes on a wet day, wait for a day when the soil is dry.

Take a potato fork and dig into your hills. Be very careful. If you aren’t careful, you could stab into your potatoes. It doesn’t ruin them, but you can’t store them if they are punctured. They will need to be eaten or preserved another way quickly so they don’t rot.

Pick up your potatoes, and put them carefully into crates, being careful not to bruise or scrape them if possible. Sort out the ones that will keep longer from the ones that you need to use up first. (These will include the ones you may have accidentally forked, have bug holes, etc). DO NOT wash your potatoes until you are ready to use them, as this will also cause them to rot quickly.

Honour Yehovah with thy substance, And with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, And thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

Pr. 3:9-10

We follow this scripture, pray, and give the firstfruits of our increase (the harvest) to who God puts on our hearts.

Enjoy your harvest!

Planting, Growing, & Preserving Your Own Garlic

When you plant garlic, you plant the garlic cloves.

You want to start by breaking your cloves apart from each other. Do not pull the ‘paper’ off of your cloves. Make sure to pick your biggest and best looking cloves, not the inside ones that are small and clumped together. Otherwise, you won’t have big bulbs when you harvest them midsummer.

He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.

2 Cor. 9:6


Garlic grows best when planted in the mid fall. First, work up your soil where you want to plant it well, and mix in plenty of compost.

In a straight line, you start planting by taking the garlic cloves, with the stem pointing up in the air and roots pointing downward, and push it into the soil. Leave only the stem sticking up above the soil.

Keep repeating this process, making sure to plant the cloves 4 inches or so apart from each other.

When you have finished planting them, you will want to cover them with straw or old hay (and keep your chickens out of the beds!) Wet down the straw or old hay so that it doesn’t just blow away.


In the Spring, they will start to grow some tops. They will continually get taller, making bigger and bigger bulbs throughout the spring and early summer.

Garlic does not need as much water as other plants. If you water 2x per week, they will do well (remember to minus the rain you receive).


Note: Before you harvest, it is easier to pull them up if you wet your soil a day prior to harvesting. If you don’t want to do that, you can always use a shovel; but remember to dig them carefully!

When the tops of the garlic are laid over and dry, it is ready to be harvested.

This should be mid to late summer.


After you have pulled/dug your garlic, lay them to dry on a table outside in the shade. Keep them there (unless it rains; then move them into a barn, garage, etc) until the stems are dry and brittle.

How do you know when the stems are dry? When you can break them easily, and they feel brittle like straw or old hay.

Why do they have to be dry?

You want them to be dry, so that when you braid your stems together, they do not mold, wasting your time and harvest.

Storing/ Hanging

We like to store our garlic by braiding the stems together and hanging them in the coolest, driest place possible.

To begin braiding, take 3 garlic (we leave our stems long and intact) and begin braiding them like you would someones hair, adding more as you go, like in a french style braid.

Take some sort of twine, yarn, or whatever will do the job and tie the end of your braid. Knot, and make a loop to hang it from. Hang your loop on a nail or something in a cool dry place. If some of your bulbs break off, it’s alright. You can store them in an onion bag or just use them first.

Don’t forget to save some back to replant in the fall!

May Yehovah bless you as you grow some of your own garlic for the first time!

How to Start, Grow, Harvest and Preserve Your Own Sweet Potatoes

Starting Your Slips

In mid-winter take your best sweet potato and put it in a quart canning jar filled with water. (DO NOT CUT YOUR POTATO!)

Don’t have a sweet potato you grew? That’s okay, just get a couple from the store.

Set your canning jar in the window sill. Change the water every few days, or when the water begins to stink.

After about 3 weeks, your sweet potato will start to sprout. Once your sprouts/slips are 3”-4” tall and leafed out, snip off the slips and put them in a pint jar of water.

Once they are in the jar of water, they will start growing their own roots.

If the slip or root growing process seems to be taking awhile, adding some compost to the water helps to speed up the growth.

Once your slips have grown roots that are 2-4”, they are ready to transplant.

We have found that it works best to plant them in a pot of dirt that is VERY wet.

This prevents them from going into shock, by just going straight from the jar of water, into the garden.

You want to keep them in your pot of wet dirt for at least 5-7 days, longer is okay.

If it is still cold outside, keep this pot indoors in a window sill as well.

Planting Sweet Potatoes Outside

You want to plant your slips outside after your last frost date. With your hoe, make small hills about 1′ around and 1′ high.

With your hoe handle, make a 4” deep hole in the center of your hill. Take your slips (we like to do 3-4 per hill), spread out the roots and cover with dirt. Then top your hill with compost.


Water WELL everyday until plants are established. This is VERY IMPORTANT!

Once established water a couple times a week (unless it rains, of course).


There are many garden pests who will attack your potato vines. These include sweet potato weevils, sweet potato beetles, wireworms, flea beetles, and blister beetles.

If any pests attack your sweet potato plant, spray Neem oil (organic spray) 1-2x per week, or more depending on how bad the bugs are and how much damage they are causing.

If it is blister beetles that are eating your sweet potato plants, remove them WITH GLOVES (THEY DO GIVE BLISTERS) into soapy water. You will have to be on top of it checking daily, or several times daily, until they are gone. Otherwise they WILL destroy your plants.

Feeding the Plant

If your sweet potato leaves are looking a little yellow, or just not growing well, you need to feed the plant. You need to add compost around the hill and plant. It is also a good idea to put hay or mulch around the hills in the dry season, to keep the moisture in.

When to Harvest

Harvesting is an exciting time, and a time to be thankful to God for what He has blessed us with. Ecc. 3:13 says, “Every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.”

Before your first frost date (it is alright if the plants get frosted on, just make sure they don’t get frosted on repeatedly.)

Take a potato fork and dig up the hills, being careful not to dig the fork into the potatoes themselves.

Carefully brush off any dirt with a soft bristled brush, making sure you do not remove or scratch the skins.


Store them in a cool, dark place to let them cure for about two weeks. You can begin using them after this time; but they longer they cure, the sweeter they will be!


If your sweet potatoes are not keeping well, for whatever reason, you will need to can them.

Prov. 12:27 says, “the substance of a diligent man is precious.” We don’t want what is ‘precious’ to us to go to waste!


You begin this process by washing the potatoes well. Cut them into bigger chunks, (you can peel now, or after the boil) put them into water and bring to a boil. Let them boil for about 10 minutes, then remove from heat. Do not strain the water out of the potatoes; you are going to use it in a moment.

Take the potatoes out of the water with a slotted spoon. If you did not peel them beforehand, you can slip them off now. Fill the jars with the peeled potato chunks.

Ladle the water you boiled them in over the potato chunks, leaving 1” head space between the water and lid. Put your lids and rings on the jars tightly.

Place your jars in the canner with hot water, and slide the lid into ‘lock’ position. Once steam starts to come out of the vent pipe, set your timer for 10 minutes.

When your timer goes off, and your ten minutes in up, put the weight on, and let the pressure build up to 10psi.

If you used pint jars, keep at 10psi for an hour and 5 minutes.

If you used quart jars, keep at 10psi for an hour and a half.

When the time is up, let cool as the pressure comes out. When all the pressure is out (your psi is back to zero) Remove your jars from the canner. DO NOT re-tighten bands if they came loose.

Allow to continue cooling for about 12 hours or so.

Check your seals (use any if they didn’t seal, soon) and store.

DON’T FORGET! Save some of your potatoes to start your slips in mid winter! Then you’ll never have to buy slips from a greenhouse again! 🙂

What to do with Canned Sweet Potatoes?

You can heat them up straight from the jar, mash, and put cinnamon and butter on them, or you can add them to soup.

Have you ever had Sweet Potato Pie? If you like Pumpkin Pie, Sweet Potato Pie is just as good. Some in our family would say EVEN BETTER!

Here is our family’s favorite recipe: