Cold and Flu Remedies (Your Answers to the Question of the Month!)

What’s your most effective remedy for colds and the flu?

Cold or flu got you down? Our Community’s got you covered! Check out these great tips and tricks for treating (and preventing!) colds and flus naturally.


When it comes to fighting off colds and flu, several of you swear that silver is worth its weight in gold.

  • Suz says, “Since flu starts in the gut, we take colloidal silver at the first symptoms: 5–6 ounces for adults over 170 pounds, 4 ounces for adults under 170 pounds, 3 ounces for those between 80–110 pounds, and start with 2 ounces for a child. After 90 mins, you should see a reduction in symptoms. Four hours after the first dose, take a second dose of equal amount. Six hours after the second dose, take a third dose of equal amount.” She says it will stop not only flu in its tracks, but also stomach viruses and food poisoning. Suz also suggests taking probiotics or eating yogurt the next day to help restore healthy gut bacteria.
  • At the first sign of illness, Marly gargles with and swallows ASAP Smart Silver, and keeps it up all day while symptoms persist.
  • Dsymons recommends snorting some colloidal/nano silver to help assuage a stuffy nose.
  • Phil Tkachukrecommends 10ppm colloidal silver. He says you can either buy it, or make it yourself using The Silver Edge generator or Atlasnova generator.

Fire Cider/Four Thieves Tonic/Dragon’s Breath

Community members velaangels, Mark, Kathy, Brodo, and Rhonda all rely on homemade fire cider as a winter immune booster. Rhonda takes 1 shot per day throughout the winter for prevention, and also uses it to shorten the duration of the illness if she does catch a cold or the flu.

Loa uses Dragon’s Breath—which she says is similar to fire cider—daily during flu season. She works at a high school “around a LOT of sneezing, wheezing, coughing kids” and says she hasn’t had a cold or the flu in the 13 years since she started boosting her immune system with Dragon’s Breath. Here’s how she makes it: “I layer onions, garlic, horseradish, ginger, parsley, and cayenne peppers in a jar and cover with natural apple cider vinegar. I let it steep for about 6 weeks, then strain, add some powdered turmeric, and put the glass jar into the refrigerator. To use, I mix a tablespoon of the mixture with a tablespoon of honey added to a cup of warm water.”

Read More: “How to Make Fire Cider”

Teas, Tonics, and Tinctures

You offered our Community members some wonderful ideas for teas, tonics, and tinctures.

  • Thomas Hodge makes an infusion with crushed Linden flowers and stems by adding 1/2 ounce of plant matter to a quart canning jar and then filling the jar with hot water. He seals it, lets it sit overnight, and strains it in the morning, squeezing the liquid from the linden. Then, he says, “chill it or drink it right away—8 ounces every 3 or 4 hours.”
  • Val recommends a “flu tea” made with 1 teaspoon each of elderflower, mint, yarrow, and lemon juice. This makes 2 cups of tea. “The elderflower is anti-catarrhal and anti-inflammatory, the mint is diaphoretic (it increases bile, thereby helping to release toxins), and the yarrow increases sweating but lowers fevers. It is a pleasant-tasting tea.” Brodo makes a similar tea, but substitutes lemon balm for the mint and adds a spoonful of local, raw honey.
  • Sunny makes a tea from dried elderberries, turmeric, freshly ground black pepper, and slices of fresh gingers, and drinks it all day long, usually mixed in with coffee or chai tea.
  • peaveyplunker mixes together 3 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon honey and 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and takes 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture every half hour until symptoms subside.
  • Stephanie Lebron creates a tea with hot water and lemon juice, plus either ginger, rosemary essential oil, or lemon eucalyptus essential oil.
  • w13jenjohnuses a homemade tincture of elderberry, licorice, and wild cherry bark, and also recommends a tea made with sage, lemon eucalyptus, and ginger, then sweetened with honey.
  • Shrabonisays that a “ginger, pepper, and turmeric-powder decoction in a glass of warm water works wonders.”
  • moncaivegan90boils 2 cups of water with a cinnamon stick, adds 1 cup of fresh red or purple bougainvillea flowers, turns off the heat, covers it for 2 minutes, and then strains it. “I like to add a spoonful of raw honey and enjoy 2 to 3 times a day. This works especially well for colds and coughs.”
  • Yvette McLean makes a tea with mullein, peppermint, and lemongrass, and drinks it around the clock—hot or cold—for 2 to 3 days. She also uses the tea in the following recipe:5 cloves garlic
    2 Tbsp. sage (fresh or dried)
    2 Tbsp. oregano (fresh or dried)
    3 Tbsp. fresh ginger
    1 Tbsp. thyme (fresh or dried)
    1 Tbsp. rosemary (fresh or dried)
    2 Tbsp. honey
    2 whole lemons (including skin)
    2 c. mullein/peppermint/lemongrass tea, cooledBlend all ingredients together. Do not heat mixture. Take 1–2 ounces 3 times per day.

    “You will be better by the third day,” she says.

Oregano Oil

Several of you recommend using oregano oil to fight off colds and the flu. But do your research! Joy Deussen says, “Be careful with oregano oil. It is hot and will burn the inside of your mouth. I recommend you put it in a capsule and swallow for no discomfort.”


Increase your vitamin intake when you’re fighting off a cold or the flu.

  • Sunny increases consumption of vitamin D.
  • Stephanie Lebron says she takes 2000 mg of vitamin C every hour or so in the first 24 hours of feeling something coming on.
  • Nance Shaw also takes vitamin A morning and night.


Take some form of elderberry for its immune-boosting properties.

  • Along with taking homeopathic oscillococcinum and drinking a Linden infusion, Thomas Hodge takes a tablespoon of black elderberry extract before bed.
  • Denise takes 1 teaspoon of elderberry syrup every day during cold and flu season.
  • Scott Sexton takes elderberry syrup and/or tincture, plus recommends “Lots of water and rest. Meditation and yoga. And frequent sips of apple cider vinegar. I use essential oils, too. Oregano and the Thieves blend. Plus, I always add a citrus oil. Citrus oils are just happy, and I think they put me in a better mood, too.”

Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic are a favorite food when you’re dealing with colds and the flu.

  • For air purification, Rebecca Potrafka leaves a cut-up onion sitting out in a glass dish. She also takes honey onion syrup for a scratchy throat.
  • Susanne Lambert offers an interesting thought on using onions: “I’ve done some experiments with onions underfoot before bed with a pair of socks. I found that when I woke in the morning, my stuffy nose was gone.”
  • Sunny adds raw or slightly roasted garlic cloves plus sautéed onions to meals.
  • Michael Gray says that if he feels something coming on, he adds to his meals “a fresh clove of garlic, smashed, chopped fine, left out for 2 to 3 minutes” and says that he gets better faster than others who are sick at the same time but don’t take fresh garlic.
  • Marjory is also a huge fan of using raw garlic as an immune booster when she’s fighting off a cold. She’ll chop up several cloves, let them sit for about 10 minutes, and swallow them straight. (Yes, we’ve seen her do this firsthand! 😉

Over-the-Counter Remedies

Sometimes, the pharmacy is your friend. Our Community members recommended several over-the-counter products that help fight colds and the flu.

  • Bonnie Camo and Thomas Hodge both recommend homeopathic oscillococcinum. Bonnie says it “usually cures colds or flu if taken in the first 24–48 hours. Available in most pharmacies and inexpensive.”
  • Jill recommends cocolaurin. “It’s a natural supplement, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. Very effective and safe.” (Cocolaurin is a super-concentrated form of monolaurin, which is distilled from coconut oil.)
  • Several of our Community members take zinc when fighting off a cold or the flu. Nance Shaw recommends a dose morning and night, kathybelair52 sucks on zinc acetate lozenges at the first sign of cold, and Jill takes zinc in the form of Zicam. Sunny also occasionally uses Zarbee’s Nighttime Cough and Throat Relief drink mix, which contains zinc.
  • Sunny also puts Plant Therapy Organic Immune Aid essential oil in the diffuser, under the nose, and on the soles of the feet.
  • When TommyD feels something coming on, he takes 3 capsules of echinacea 3 times a day for a few days.
  • Marius says colloidal silver usually helps him avoid the flu. However, “this year the flu strain was extremely potent, and it got me for the first time in 8 years. I cured it in about 2 days by ingesting hydrogen peroxide 3% In the next days, I rebuilt my intestinal flora—which could be damaged by hydrogen peroxide—by eating probiotics.”
  • Among other things, Nance Shaw recommends soothing coughs at bedtime by putting Vick’s VapoRub on the arches of the feet.
  • Several of you recommend using a neti pot during the sickness to help relieve symptoms. (Remember, though—the FDA recommends rinsing only with distilled, sterile, or previously boiled water, as tap water may contain harmful organisms that could actually make the problem worse.)

Encourage Fever

PInteaReed says, “If you are stricken with flu, make sure to help your fever. Wrap up in heavy blankets and try to keep the fever at 101°F to 102°F. Of course, if it goes higher, unwrap! Fever is what helps kill the viruses inside you. We just used this on this recent strain of really nasty flu that is going around. An hour after you wrap up, you should see a huge abatement of symptoms.”

Prevent It

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and our Community members offered some great suggestions for keeping colds and the flu at bay.

  • TommyD says he can’t remember the last time he had the flu, and attributes part of his immune strength to cooking regularly with a spice mix of turmeric, freshly ground black pepper, ginger powder, and Ceylon cinnamon.
  • Sandy Hines says neither she nor her husband have caught the flu or a cold in over 30 years. “If your
    body is alkaline, flu viruses and cold germs cannot live. Every night before bedtime, we have 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in a few inches of cool water.” They also eat about 2/3 cup of plain yogurt with a teaspoon of raw, unfiltered, local honey in it during the day; drink plenty of clean water, eat nutritiously; drink orange juice; and take 1,000 to 2,000 mg of vitamin C every day.
  • Michael Gray helps prevent illness by taking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and a teaspoon of honey mixed in warm water every day.
  • Emily says she doesn’t catch colds or the flu, and attributes it to taking Citricidal brand grapefruit seed extract at least once per day. She adds, “I take up to 24 drops. Three is what the package says. Vitamin C is one reason it works so well, and that’s natural Vitamin C, not ‘ascorbic acid.’”
  • Community member bobcarmenmertz has been taking homemade Golden Paste for more than 8 months and credits it for feeling well. “I did start to get a cold, but the severity and duration were greatly reduced. The paste includes turmeric powder, coconut oil, and freshly ground black pepper. You can make it yourself and refrigerate for 2 weeks.” One recipe we found for Golden Paste is as follows:Golden Paste Recipe
    1/2 c. turmeric powder
    1 c. water (plus up to an additional cup of water, if needed)
    2–3 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    1/3 c. healthy fat—either from raw, unrefined, cold-pressed coconut oil, flaxseed oil, or virgin/extra virgin olive oilCombine the turmeric and 1 c. water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 7–10 minutes or until the mixture becomes a thick paste. (You may need to add some or all of the additional water during this step.) Remove from heat and let the turmeric/water mixture cool down until it is warm and not hot. Add the freshly ground black pepper and oil, and stir well to incorporate. Allow it to cool, then keep it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze some if you don’t think you’ll use it up by then. You can use Golden Paste in smoothies, in yogurt, as a condiment—even as as an immune-booster for your pets!

Thanks so much to each and every TGN Community member who shared your favorite home remedies in response to our February Question of the Month! You are highly valued!


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The post Cold and Flu Remedies (Your Answers to the Question of the Month!) appeared first on The Grow Network.

The Art of Growing Onions

Onions are a staple food in our kitchen. Depending on what we’ve got cooking, we use between 2-5 pounds of some kind of onion every week. Since we grow most of our food on our homestead, this means we have to grow a lot of onions.

Just about any growing guide will tell you that onions are easy to grow.

And they are. You can start them from seed, plants, bulbs, or even food scraps (as Marjory shows you here).

Read More: “The Simple Trick to Regrow Onions”

Onion plants will survive even if you forget to water them through droughts, leave them in the ground over winter, and stick them in just about any kind of soil. Now, I said “survive” and not “thrive,” so I wouldn’t recommend these strategies if you actually want large yields of onions to eat.

We’ll dig into the details of how to grow onions in a minute. But first, let’s take a look at the varieties of onions.

What Are the Onion Types?

To most people, the word “onion” automatically brings to mind those dried balls of make-you-cry-when-cut goodness you find at the grocery store.

Yep, those are onions.

They are storage-type onions and are the most common variety available to consumers. They also come in two flavors—sweet and cooking. Sweet onions, like those famous Vidalias (which are simply sweet onions specifically grown in the Vidalia region of Georgia), contain a lot more natural sugars and can even taste a bit like dessert if you caramelize them in your cast iron pan with butter and a splash of good balsamic vinegar.

If you cook much, you probably also immediately thought of green onions or scallions. Those grocery store favorites are actually a group of onions called “bunching onions” that are grown specifically for their lack of ability to produce large bulbs.

Beyond those basics, there’s a whole world of often-unexplored onion types available to the home grower.

  • Onions come in a host of shapes, ranging from bulbless to torpedo to round to doughnut shaped.
  • They can range in size from thin slivers of grass to cantaloupe-sized onion bombs.
  • Some can be cured and stored, and others are best eaten fresh from the garden or within two weeks of harvest.
  • There are onions that can be grown as perennials and harvested multiple times per year, like the multiplier onions and Egyptian walking onions.
  • You can also branch out into other members of the Allium family and grow leeks, shallots, common chives, garlic chives, wild onions, and garlic to add bite and health benefits to your savory meals.

If you want to read more about the history of onions and take a closer look at some of the lesser-known varieties, check out this great post.

Read More: “Unusual Onions—The Lowdown on Some Forgotten Members of the ‘Stinky Rose’ Family” 

Onions, and all their family members, are so good for you and make simple meals taste so extraordinary that anyone with a sunny window ought to be growing chives and anyone with a small plot of land ought to be growing onions for bulbs and greens.

And you can start now with just a little bit of know-how.

Growing Onions

Start Onions Early

Here’s the first thing to know about growing onions: They like an early start.

In my area of North Carolina, USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 7a, I’ll be putting mine in the garden by the end of February. And since I start mine from seed at home, I start my seeds in trays under grow lights and then move them to the greenhouse at least 8-10 weeks before transplanting.

Onions will do most of their green leaf growing while the days are short and before temperatures get too warm. Each leaf of top growth will produce one ring of the onion. Larger leaves produce larger bulbs.

I’ve been told that the perfect onion will have 13 lush green strands, but so far I’ve only been able to grow 12-leaf onions in my area.

As the summer solstice approaches, and with it come longer days and warmer temperatures, onions will start to set bulbs.

When they begin putting energy into their bulbs, they won’t grow those greens anymore. That means that if you only have a few spindly leaves in late May, then you probably won’t get very impressive onion bulb yields. However, those underperforming onions do make great “spring” onions, so go ahead and dig them up and chop them into your salad.

Now don’t worry—if you missed your seed-starting window, you can also buy onion plants. Onion plants are usually pencil thick and ready to transplant directly into the ground. They are usually sold in bunches of 50 and cost around $11-$15 a bunch for heirloom varieties from specialty growers. You can also find onion plants at country produce stores for less, but these are almost always hybrid varieties.

Some people also grow onions from dried bulbs called “sets,” too. These usually only cost a few dollars for a bag of 50. You can pick these up at just about any hardware or garden supply store seasonally. You can also often find them loose and sold by the pound at country produce markets.

Varieties are limited on onion sets. Additionally, sets often produce smaller onions than plants of the same variety. If you are trying to maximize bulb size, then choose plants rather than sets.

Sets will usually get you small to medium-sized storage onions, so you may need to grow more sets than plants to get the same yields as plants in pounds.

Choose the Right Day-Length Varieties

Before you buy seeds, sets, or plants, the other thing you really need to know about onions, particularly bulbing onions, is how many hours of daylight they need to set bulbs. Bulbing onions are classified as short-, long-, or intermediateday varieties.

  • Long-day varieties will need 14-16 hours of daylight to set bulbs and only grow well in Northern areas with cooler summers and longer days.
  • Short-day onions will only need 10-12 hours of daylight and tend to be selected to grow better in areas with hotter weather.
  • Intermediate-day onions will need 13-15 hours.

If you live in Florida and plant a long-day variety, at best, you’ll end up with some darn fine scallions from long-day seeds. More likely, though, your long-day onion plants will bolt at the first sign of heat and you’ll be eating flower heads in your salads.

Choose Your Fertility Plan

Onions like to grow in high-quality vegetable garden soil with good drainage and a pH between 6.2-6.8. In good soil, they will grow surprisingly deep and expansive root systems that will help regulate moisture and seek appropriate nutrients.

For softball-sized onions, you’ll need to give them a kick-start by using a fertilizer that is higher in phosphorous than nitrogen and potassium—like a 10-20-10 bag of store-bought fertilizer. When using 10-20-10 fertilizer, it is recommended to make a 4-inch trench between your onion rows and apply fertilizer in the trench. You will also need to fertilize every 2-3 weeks with either 21-0-0 or 15.5-0-0 fertilizer as the tops are growing to ensure bigger bulbs later.

You can apply new fertilizer to your trench. See here for more specific details.

Personally, though, I don’t buy fertilizer. Instead:

  • I prepare my onion beds with about 3 inches of homemade compost gently incorporated into my existing garden soil.
  • When I plant my onions, I sprinkle roughly one teaspoon of worm castings around the plant about 2 inches from the base.
  • I also spread a light coating of wood ash on the soil between my plants (so light you can still see the soil underneath).
  • From that point on, I water my plants every 2-3 days (unless we get sufficient rain) using water from my duck pond or compost tea for continuous fertilization.

If you want more info on homemade fertility, check out these posts on worm castings and compost tea:

Read More: “Leachate, Worm Tea, and Aerobic Compost Tea—A Clarification” 

Read More: “Manure TeaAn Easy Way to Stretch Your Compost”

Read More: “Simple and Effective Worm Composting on Your Homestead” 

How to Plant Onions

Once you’ve decided on your fertility plan, the next step is to plant. Those pencil-thin onion plants should be planted no more than 1 inch deep in the soil. These will start to set roots very quickly. But, keep a close eye on them until they are deeply rooted enough that they stand erect on their own, ensuring that they don’t get knocked over by wind or critters.

Onion sets can be planted a little deeper because they take longer to grow roots and will sometimes swell out of the soil during heavy rains if they haven’t set roots yet. I plant mine about 1.5 inches under soil and then cover the soil with an inch of very loose straw.

Onion Row Spacing

One of the big debates in onion planting is how to space them in beds and rows. Conventional growers tend to space them about 4 inches apart on 1-foot rows. This effectively means you are planting 3 per square foot. It makes weeding with a hoe easy and works well for soil with low organic matter.

Other methods recommend planting bulbing onions on 4- to 6-inch centers, or planting about 4-12 onions every square foot. For scallions, they are planted at a rate of about 16 onions per square foot.

I think the reason for all the confusion on plant spacing is that we are all growing in different conditions and growing different varieties with various expectations for bulb size. What you really need to know is that onions can’t stand competition. That means, depending on the variety you choose, you need enough space that your onions won’t grow into each other. And, you also need to be able to fit your hand in and weed around your onions often. You also don’t want too much space between plants, or weeds will move in and take over.

Personally, for my storage onions, I am looking for bulbs between 3.5 and 4 inches in diameter.

For mass plantings, because I have big, farm-girl hands, I like to plant them on roughly 5-inch centers so I can fit my hands between my nearly full-sized onions without breaking my green tops. I start planting from the center of my 4-foot-wide beds and leave a few extra inches around the edges of the beds empty. That area tends to dry out faster and my onions just don’t grow as well on the outer edges of the bed.

For scallions, I go for about 2-inch centers, and for leeks, garlic, and torpedo onions, I plant on 3-inch centers.

Alliums are also great for interplanting with your other crops as a pest deterrent. Since spring-grown cabbages and onions go in the ground at about the same time in my area, I like to plant onions at the corners of my cabbage plants. This seems to cut down on cabbage moth visits to my Early Jersey Wakefields. Make sure to give the cabbage plenty of room, though, or it will quickly overshadow your onions.

Soil quality matters for spacing, too. The first year I started my garden at our current homestead, I knew I wasn’t offering my onions the most perfect growing environment, so I gave them a little more space than I do now. This made for more weed pressure, so I mulched with straw several times during the growing season to help cut down on weeding.


Once you get your onions in the ground, they will need to be watered and weeded regularly for best results. Onions don’t like to be soaked or flooded.  If you live in a really wet area, you might want to mulch around your onions with an inch of fresh, double-shred hardwood. This also works great if you live in dry areas. Just keep in mind that when you water, you will need to make sure it passes through your mulch layer and soaks several inches into the ground to be beneficial.

In my area, onion tops grow quite fast from about mid-March through mid-May. If you are not seeing a whole lot of top growth during that time, you may need to add more nitrogen either with an infusion of compost tea or by using additional fertilizer. From mid-May and after bulbs start forming, avoid adding nitrogen to your onion beds, as this can cause issues with bulbing.

If your onions have lots of good top growth but don’t seem to be bulbing up well, you can incorporate some bonemeal into the surrounding soil. Follow the application instructions on the bag for best results. However, be careful not to disturb the roots of your onion plants as you apply. If you mulched around your plants, you can just push back the mulch and apply underneath your mulch layer. Then, push the mulch back in place.

Harvesting, Curing, and Storing Onions


Now for the fun part! After all your diligent care, it’s about time to harvest your onions.

When havesting onions for tops, like scallions, those are generally sweetest and most tender when the tops are around 6-8 inches tall. But if you want more meaty tang, you can let them grow a little longer.

If you only plan to use the greens, you can cut the tops and leave the whitish parts and roots in the ground and then let the greens grow back. For torpedo-type onions, as soon as the partial bulb forms, you can harvest as needed for fresh use. Just make sure your torpedoes are all out of the ground before the top growth dies back.

As your storage-type bulbs begin to form, they will draw energy from those green leaves you grew so carefully in early spring. When those tops begin to fold over and yellow, that means the energy has transferred from the tops to the bulbs. As soon as the tops start dying, your onion will also become more susceptible to pests, particularly root eaters in the soil like wireworms. Some people will wait until most of the leaves have yellowed, but I normally harvest when just a few tips are yellow so that I don’t have any pest-related losses.

For best drying results, let the soil dry out for a day or two before harvesting. In good soil, those onion roots get pretty deep. I like to use my hand hoe/rake combo to harvest because the hoe works well to loosen the soil around the onion, and then I use my hands to do the detail work of getting the onion out of the ground. After that, I use the rake side to scrape the soil off the roots. (This is the tool I use. It’s incredible for bed preparation and harvesting.)

Curing Onions

Personally, I only dry my best onions. The rest I cook up within a couple weeks of harvesting. Onions that don’t grow to their full size potential just don’t seem to store as well, even if they don’t have any obvious defects or show signs of insect damage.

The key to curing onions is good airflow and making sure they don’t get wet during the drying period. You can dry them on a tabletop as long as you flip them daily to make sure they dry evenly. Or you can just clip them to a clothesline in any covered area that is not too humid. I installed a clothesline on my porch that I use for drying onions, garlic, and herbs. Not only is it convenient, but it makes for a beautiful, rustic scene and an aromatic spot to seek shade in mid-summer.

Storing Onions

Depending on your conditions, it may take 2-3 weeks to cure onions. When the tops are completely dry, you can cut them down to about 1 inch and trim off the roots. You can also leave your dried tops on and make onion braids for storage. Personally, though, I like to use my collection of old grocery store onion bags to store my homegrown onions. You can then hang those bags on a rope in a basement, food cellar, or whatever other dark, cool, somewhat humid space you use for winter food storage.

Onions seem to know when it is time to grow.  So, I find that around this time of year, my stored onions start sending up more green leaf shoots. This means they won’t store much longer. Luckily, though, this is also the time that my chives start coming up in the garden.  So I use up my stored onions quickly and start harvesting chives, then later I eat my scallions to hold me over until my next round of storing onions are ready.

I hope you all have great success growing onions this year!  If you have any tips and tricks you’ve learned that will help us all grow better, I’d love to hear what works for you.


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Planting Fall Garlic And Onions – 4 Simple Tips To A Great Crop!

It’s hard to believe it, but it’s time for planting fall garlic and onions!  Both garlic and onions are perfect crops to plant in the early fall for a great harvest next June. Planting now allows a good 4 to 6

The post Planting Fall Garlic And Onions – 4 Simple Tips To A Great Crop! appeared first on Old World Garden Farms.

5 Unusual Uses For Onions (Got Ant Problems? Then Try No. 3!)

5 Unusual Uses For Onions (Got Ant Problems? Then Try No. 3!)

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My grandmother was known for squeezing a penny so hard it practically would turn into a wire! When I was a kid, though, I didn’t appreciate some of the things she knew. Today, I do.

Our ancestors who lived through the Great Depression – like my grandmother – acquired knowledge the old-fashioned away. That is, by trial and error.

Today we are going to take a look at the lowly onion and all the unusual ways that our ancestors used them.

1. Remove rust

OK, so you might cry a bit when you try this, but you can tell people they are tears of joy! Onions are super-effective rust removers! Put down that steel wool and stick your rusty knife or scissors into a big onion three or four times.

“The Big Book Of Off The Grid Secrets” — Every Homesteader Needs A Copy!

5 Unusual Uses For Onions (Got Ant Problems? Then Try No. 3!)

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Be careful not to cut your hand, though. Your super-rusty knives might need a half-dozen thrusts to remove that oxidation, but this works surprisingly well.

2. Remove splinters

This sounds crazy, but it works and is especially good for children. When you get a splinter that’s giving you trouble, simply tape a piece of onion over the splinter. (By “tape,” I mean anything that will hold it in place — a cutoff sock, a bandage or what have you.) Leave it there for two or three hours. When you remove the onion, the splinter should be gone.

3. Insect and animal repellent

Poor onions! It seems no one likes the way they smell. If neighborhood cats or dogs find your garden attractive, then put a few slices of onions in the area that they frequent. This also works for ants, although you must replace the onion slices every few days until you are certain that the ants have made tracks elsewhere.

My grandmother also used to put onion slices in every room of the house when someone had a cold or the flu. She thought it would absorb the virus from the air. It never seemed to work, but it certainly didn’t hurt anything.

4. Ease congestion from colds

If you have a super-stuffed-up nose, then try my grandmother’s recipe! She would put two or three big slices of onion in a jar of honey and let it set for a few hours. To clear up your stuffed head and ease a sore throat, a big tablespoon of that “onion honey” is all you need!

5. Easier wintertime driving

You can easily stop frost from forming on the windshield of your car by cutting an onion in half and rubbing the cut half on the glass the night before. It works like magic! If the windshield is a bit hazy in the morning from onion juice, then just use your windshield washer or pour a bit of cool water on it and run your wipers.

What are your best onion ideas? Share your tips in the section below:  

7 Steps for Growing Your Best Crop of Onions

7 Steps for Growing Your Best Crop of Onions Onions are on of the crops every self sufficient Gardener should be growing each year.  Even if you only have a small garden it is possible to grow and store enough onions each year so that you never have to buy another onion again.  Onions are …

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12 Unusual, Off-Grid Uses For Onions (No. 5 – Removes Splinters!)

12 Unusual, Off-Grid Uses For Onions (No. 5 – Removes Splinters!)

We add it to soups, hamburgers and salads. When we peel it, it makes us cry, and we run for the mouthwash after eating it. It is the onion.

High in flavor and low in calories, onions are good sources of vitamin C and fiber, and they are rich in antioxidants. Yet, did you know this superfood could provide many other benefits around your household?

Here are 10 surprising uses for onions other than as a food.

1. Natural pesticide. You can rub a peeled onion on your skin as a simple – and smelly – bug repellent. You also can help keep bugs out of your garden with an onion spray.

Puree four onions, two garlic gloves, two tablespoons of cayenne pepper, and one quart of water in your blender. Set mixture aside. Next, dilute two tablespoons of soap flakes in two gallons of water. Add the blender mixture and stir well. Fill a clean sprayer bottle with liquid to keep insects and other pests away from your garden.

2. Soothe bites, stings and minor burns. Simply place a freshly cut onion slice on the affected area of your skin to soothe the pain and swelling.

3. Ease a sore throat. Onion tea doesn’t taste great, but it does the job. Boil one cup of water with the peels of half a medium onion. Remove onion and sip to soothe a painful throat.

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4. Fight dizziness and fainting. You can use onions in place of smelling salts. Place a piece of freshly cut onion under the nose of someone who is feeling faint, and it will decrease the feeling of light headedness.

12 Unusual, Off-Grid Uses For Onions (No. 5 – Removes Splinters!)5. Remove a splinter. Got a nasty splinter that won’t budge? Try taping a piece of raw onion to the area for about an hour. Afterwards, the splinter should be easier to remove.

6. Polish metal. Mix crushed onion with water. Then dab the mixture on the metal surface with a soft cloth. Rub until clean.

7. Remove rust from knives. Simply plunge your rusty blade into an onion several times and then wipe dry for a rust-free surface.

8. Get rid of paint smell. Are you bothered by the smell of new paint in your home or workplace? Try placing a few slices of onion in a dish, along with a small amount of water. The onion will absorb the paint smell within an hour or two.

9. Clean your grill. Cut an onion in half and then rub it across your grill surface to remove food and grime. Then wipe clean.

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10. Deter pets. If your cat or dog keeps visiting a spot on your property to dig, to chew or to use as a bathroom, place a few onion slices in that spot. Animals do not like the smell of onion, and they will stay away. Refresh onion slices as needed to keep making your point.

11. Make burned rice edible. Did you leave the rice on the stovetop too long? No problem. Place an onion half on top of the rice to absorb the burned flavor.

12. Prevent avocado browning. Place a red onion half in a plastic bag or container and then add the avocado. You also can keep guacamole fresh by placing some red onion slices on top of it in a plastic container.

Store your whole bulb onions in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. Whole peeled onions should be refrigerated at 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) or below. Sliced or chopped onions can be stored in a sealed plastic bag or covered container in your refrigerator for seven to 10 days.

Do you know of other uses for onions? Share your tips in the section below:

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How To Get Your Onions To Store ALL WINTER Long

How To Get Your Onions To Store ALL WINTER Long

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When it comes to growing vegetables, it doesn’t get much easier than onions. Just plant them in the garden, give them a little water, and these distinctive, dependable vegetables are ready to harvest almost before you know it.

Once harvested, onions can last weeks and even months if they’re properly cured and stored, and you can grab one for the kitchen whenever you need it. Here’s how to harvest, cure and store onions.

Harvesting Onions

Onions are ready to harvest when the tops begin to flop over and turn yellow. This means the plant has finished growing and the leaves no longer need to provide energy to the bulb. It isn’t necessary to wait until the tops are completely dry.

Don’t harvest the onions right away, though, unless rain is predicted. Instead, stop watering and give them a week or 10 days to finish maturing. If weather turns damp and rainy, then go ahead and harvest.

The best time to harvest onions is during the morning when weather is dry and sunlight is less intense. Loosen the soil around the plants carefully with a spade or garden fork, and then pull the onions gently from the ground. Lay the onions on top of the soil for a day or two to dry. If the weather is hot, cover them lightly with straw to prevent sunburn. If the soil is wet, put the onions in a protected spot like a patio or garage. Handle the onions with care to avoid cuts and bruises. You even can hang the onions over a fence if you live in a dry climate.

Curing Onions

If you want to store onions, curing is a critical step that allows the onions to form a papery, protective covering. If you plan to use onions soon, don’t bother curing them, as there’s no need. Keep in mind that mild, sweet onions don’t store as long as sharp, pungent onions. If you grow both types, then use the sweet onions first and save the pungent onions for storage. Some popular onions that store well include Copra, Southport Red Globe, Redwing, White Sweet Spanish and Downing Yellow Globe.

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How To Get Your Onions To Store ALL WINTER Long

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To cure the onions, place them in a clean, dry, shady, well-ventilated spot with stems still attached. If you’re short on space and need to cure the onions outdoors, spread the onions in a single layer and cover them with a light sheet to prevent sunburn, and then anchor the rocks in place with rocks. Never cover them with plastic, as lack of air circulation can cause the onions to rot.

Allow the onions to cure for two or three weeks, until the papery skin is tight and crispy and the roots are dry. Turn them every few days so they cure evenly. Set any soft onions aside for immediate use.

Storing Onions

Brush the onions gently with your fingers to remove remaining dirt, and then trim the tops to about an inch with scissors before you store the onions. You can also trim the roots.

Sort through the onions again. If any are bruised, store them in the refrigerator and use them soon. Like apples, one bad onion can ruin the entire batch. Also, do not store onions near potatoes.

Place onions in a wooden crate or a nylon or mesh bag – that is, a dark area — and store them in a cool, dry place where temperatures are kept between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, but never freezing.

Check the onions every few weeks and remove any that are turning soft.

What your onion storage tips? Share them in the section below:

Bust Inflation With A Low-Cost, High-Production Garden. Read More Here.

How To Plant Onions This Fall For A Great Crop Next Year

Fall is an excellent time to plant onions for a great harvest next summer! Fall onions grow much like a crop of garlic, becoming well established in the cool fall temperatures before going dormant for the winter. When Spring arrives

The post How To Plant Onions This Fall For A Great Crop Next Year appeared first on Old World Garden Farms.

How to Grow Onions Vertically On The Windowsill

How to Grow Onions Vertically On The Windowsill I did this about 4 years ago with quite good results! Growing onions inside is very easy, they like the constant temperature and the light from the window. I grew 10 in one bottle one year and loved it. Check out this really easy tutorial from goodshomedesign …

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The post How to Grow Onions Vertically On The Windowsill appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

Strawberries And Onions: The Gardening Odd Couple That Always Should Be Planted Together

Strawberries And Onions: The Gardening Odd Couple That Always Should Be Planted Together

When winter’s biting cold has faded into memory, but home-garden headliners like tomatoes still seem far off, early crops can be a much-appreciated moral boost. As far as these first-on-the-scene producers are concerned, few can compare with freshly ripe, home-grown strawberries. And while a perfectly manicured bed filled exclusively with eager little strawberry plants has a certain storybook appeal, you may be surprised to discover what many strawberry farmers already know: interspersing the patch with a strategically selected — and sometimes smelly — companion can make springtime even better.

Companion Planting

Companion planting is the time-honored technique of pairing beneficial plants together and is a natural, chemical-free way to improve the overall health of your garden. While some of these symbiotic combinations are well-known (such as the traditional “three sisters garden” featuring corn, beans and squash, or the classic companionship between marigolds and summer vegetables like tomatoes and peppers) almost all plants can benefit from proximity to appropriate neighbors.

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In the case of strawberries, that perfect partner happens to come in the form of onions.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

There’s a reason colleges have students fill out lengthy informational surveys before showing up at the dorm; making good roommate matches is tricky business! And while strawberries and onions might both look friendly at first glance, they don’t always make great neighbors with other plants. For example, the antibacterial secretions from onions adversely affects the nitrogen-fixing bacterial action associated with beans and peas. Similarly, all members of the cabbage family, including broccoli and Brussels sprouts, suffer when planted too close to strawberries, while tomatoes and peppers are notorious for spreading pathogens such as verticillium wilt with strawberries.

The chart below outlines companion planting best-bets when it comes to strawberries and onions:

Companion Planting — Strawberries and Onions*

Companions Enemies Allies
Strawberries bean, lettuce, onion, spinach, thyme cabbage borage, thyme
Onions beet, cabbage family, carrot, chard, lettuce, pepper, strawberry, tomato bean, pea chamomile, summer savory, pigweed, sow thistle

Same Soil.  Same Schedule.

Strawberries And Onions: The Gardening Odd Couple That Always Should Be Planted TogetherThankfully, strawberries and onions have no adverse effect on each other. They also have similar soil requirements, both benefitting from well-drained soil located in full sun. In addition, similar planting schedules make it possible to prepare the bed all at once. Onion starts and new strawberry plants can both be set out in early spring, or, depending on the climate, put out in the fall for an easy way to make sure you’ve already hit the ground running when spring arrives.

Pest Protection

The most important way strawberries and onions help each other is when it comes to pest protection. Even relatively small spring onions are often odorous enough to mask the sweet smells associated with ripe strawberries, helping protect them from critters looking for a juicy treat. Depending on placement, the onion stalks may also help block the otherwise easy-to-spot ripe berries from view.

Added Benefit

Lest this look like an entirely one-sided arrangement, strawberry plants can also provide a service to their ally from the allium family. The crisp, fresh flavor characteristic of spring onion greens is best cultivated under relatively cool conditions.

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When planted close together, healthy strawberry plants can actually be large enough to help filter the sunlight near tender onion plants, keeping the temperatures a little lower for a little longer without completely cutting them off from needed sunlight.

Planting Options

There are a number of ways to take advantage of spring gardening’s greatest odd-couple. One option is to plant strawberries and onions in alternating rows. Assuming adequate soil drainage, onions can even be planted in the slightly more packed soil between raised strawberry mounds. Another possibility, especially for smaller strawberry patches, is to form an onion perimeter around the edges of the plot.  Finally, there’s no reason onions and strawberries can’t be directly interplanted with each other in the same rows for a true patchwork of springtime favorites.

Flavorful spring onions sprinkled on a side salad and thick slices of shortcake dripping with ripe strawberries are springtime rituals. Companion planting the two crops together is an easy way to help both plants thrive and guarantee a great start to the growing season.

What advice would you ad? Share it in the section below:

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Four Flu Fighting Foods That You Probably Weren’t Aware Of

oyster wikimediaMost people seem to welcome the holiday season, even though it can be a hectic and expensive time of year. We love reacquainting ourselves with family and friends, getting cozy with our loved ones, and enjoying some well deserved time off from our jobs. I feel the same way about this time of year, though I take exception with one particular aspect of the season. As soon as November 1st rolls around I know that I’ve entered the danger zone, and it usually lasts until March. That’s the season that typically gives me at least one cold or flu bug, and I’m sure it’s the same for many of you.

For me, this time of year is also a time for research. Every holiday season I like look for new cold remedies that I wasn’t aware of before, and readjust my strategy for fighting and preventing these nasty bugs. This year I’ve discovered a few different foods that might help you recover faster from these viruses, or stop them from infecting you in the first place.

These aren’t your typical food remedies however. These are the flu busting foods that most people don’t talk about, or might not even be aware of. If you’ve struggled to fight these bugs in the past (and boy, who hasn’t?) this should give a few new remedies for your fight against the germs. Here a few of the most potent, and underrated cold remedies:

Raw Onions

No, I’m not talking about that ridiculous myth that claims onions will absorb bacteria out of the air. If you want to stay healthy, onions are far more useful in your belly than they are on your window sill. They contain quercetin, which is an effective antihistimine, and allicin, which is known to kill a wide variety of viruses and bacteria. And as an added bonus, raw onions will help you break down mucus and open up your nasal passages.

Sweet Potatoes

Aside from being a very nutrient dense food that is great for your overall well-being, sweet potatoes are absolutely brimming with vitamin A. While vitamin C gets all the credit for warding off colds and flus, we often forget that vitamin A is a crucial nutrient for maintaining the health of your skin and mucous membranes, both of which are important for keeping viruses from proliferating in your body.


Protein may be the biggest unsung hero in the fight against the common cold and the flu. It rarely comes up when people talk about cold remedies, even though it plays a crucial role in your immune system by forming antibodies, and helping your body produce immune cells. Unfortunately, many of us lose our appetite when we’re sick, and we miss out on those large servings of protein right when we need them the most.


While many of us reach for oranges when we’re sick, a cheap can of oysters may be one of the most underrated foods for fighting off colds and flus. Aside from providing a hefty dose of vitamin D, oysters also contain the highest density of zinc compared to any other food, which most people don’t realize is an antimicrobial substance. Much like Vitamin A, zinc is found in high quantities in your skin and mucous, where it provides a first line of defense against pathogens. It’s also an important component in the production of white blood cells.


So there you have it. For most of us, getting sick during the holidays is practically a foregone conclusion, but that doesn’t mean we should give up the fight against these pathogens. We should never stop trying out different remedies, because our bodies need all the help they can get this time of year. Hopefully now you have a few new weapons in your medicinal arsenal, for your personal war against those dastardly cold and flu bugs

Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.

Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition