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Tender Hearts Homestead

Chick Fever: Build Your Flock Wisely

Kristi CookI'm a sucker for the eye candy unashamedly displayed in each year's poultry catalogs. The tantalizing White Leghorns, suave Black Australorps, and seductive Ameraucanas beckon to me from every page. And every year I do a mental head count to see if I have room for more. Most years, I do need to add to the flock but some years, like this one, I really don't need any more. But... I could squeeze in a few more... maybe.

When you get spring chick fever, beware. If you haven't experienced this unusual phenomenon common to most flock owners, know that the moment you purchase your first chick, you're infected — you just don't know it yet. Chicks are kind of like ticks. Once you get one, before you know it you have 20. Then 30. Then you're in the egg business for no other reason than to justify your "chicken" addiction. Ask me how I know...

However, regardless of how you wind up checking out the chicks in the glossy magazines be sure to follow a few sound guidelines when making selections to ensure you build a flock that meets your needs.



Many chicken breeds adapt quite readily to a variety of conditions, with some being better suited to specific climates than others. For instance, Leghorns, Minorcas, and Blue Andalusians are best suited for hot climates while Brahmas and Cochins fair best in colder climates. Still others, like the Black Australorps and Rhode Island Reds/Whites, and Plymouth Rocks are quite content in nearly any environment. These more adaptable breeds are the ones I prefer, because in our neck the woods our summers are ridiculously hot and muggy while our winters can have spells of bitter cold.


Once you've narrowed down the potential breeds based on your climate, start taking note of which breeds are best suited to your future flock's intended purpose. Do you want chickens primarily for eggs, meat, or both? Leghorns and Black Australorps are excellent layers and often don't bother taking winter breaks from laying as most hens do even without supplemental lighting. Other egg layers like the Ameraucanas and most Rhode Island Reds will need a winter break to maintain optimal health and are best used in a mixed flock if you'll be needing eggs year round. If, on the other hand, you're expecting to harvest a few chickens here and there for dinner, consider the meatier, dual purpose breeds, such as the Australorps and Orpingtons. And finally, if meat is all you're after, consider the faster growing Freedom Rangers and Cornish breeds which produce a nice sized bird in a matter of weeks.

Management Style

Every flock owner develops his or her preferred management style over time. Some start out with small, portable chicken tractors and only a couple of hens. Others go gangbusters and build a huge coop complete with a large fenced in run area. Still others combine elements from various management styles by mixing free ranging or pasture based poultry management with fixed structures. The myriad management styles one can develop are endless. And because each style requires different personalities and even hardiness levels in chickens, a wise flock owner will take each specific breed's needs into consideration.

For example, many sources claim Leghorns do quite well in close confinement while others — myself included — find their high activity level is better suited to more open spaces, whether it's a large, fenced-in run area or a free-ranging environment. Some breeds, such as the Buttercups, make excellent foragers and do well with pasture based or free-ranging systems. And last, but certainly not least, there are breeds like the Crevecours that fare best in fenced areas.

Building a healthy, productive flock of chickens that will meet your needs and thrive under your specific climate conditions and management style doesn't require huge amounts of research or time. However, taking the time to make informed decisions can mean the difference between enjoying your flock and regretting flock ownership. As with all things, a little research goes a long way.

Grow a Sweet Potato Pie

Kristi Cook 


The first year I grew sweet potatoes, I knew I’d hit the jackpot. Sweet potatoes are not only super easy to grow, but a small area is all you need to fill a year’s supply of this sweet delight. My own small, 4-feet-by-12-feet raised bed provides our family with 75 to 100 pounds of this versatile root crop — enough to make all the baked and roasted sweet potatoes, sweet potato pies, sweet potato soup, and any other creation that tempts our tastebuds for an entire year. And best of all, you only need two or three potatoes to get a perennial supply started on your homestead.

Sweet potatoes or yams?
Sadly, the sweet potato is a victim of mistaken identity. Dating as far back as colonial times, orange fleshed varieties have been routinely labeled as yams, yet they’re not yams at all. Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) belong to the the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae), while true yams (Dioscorea L) reside in the aptly named yam family (Dioscoreaceae). In the United States, only sweet potatoes are grown commercially with yams being relegated to specialty growers and markets. So despite names such as "candied yams" or "fresh, local yams," most of us are only familiar with the sweet potato.

Children often find the water jar method an exciting introduction to gardening since they can easily see daily root growth and sprout production.

Start with slips.
Sweet potatoes are not grown from seed. Instead, small shoots called slips are sprouted from a sweet potato from the previous year’s harvest. Once slips reach the desired length, they are "slipped" off the root and then planted in the ground. You can either purchase ready-to-plant slips from local nurseries, catalogs, or other growers, or you can sprout slips yourself from a sweet potato purchased at the supermarket. If going this route, select only organic varieties as conventionally grown sweet potatoes are often treated to prevent sprouting.

Starting your own slips is simple, though it does require a bit of planning because the process takes between four to six weeks. Most sweet potatoes require 90 to 110 days to reach harvest size, so slips should be ready to plant as soon as soil temps reach 60 degrees Fahrenheit and all danger of frost has passed. In my neck of the woods, planting dates generally range from mid-April to the end of May, making the best times to start the slip growing process sometime between the end of February and April. However, if your summer begins sooner or later than ours, you’ll need to adjust your slip starting date accordingly.

Several methods exist to sprout slips, but the two most common are the water jar and sand box methods. The water jar method is likely the most familiar as many of us unwittingly grew slips in our elementary science classes. Simply skewer any disease free sweet potato midway down with three or four toothpicks around the root’s circumference. Balance the potato in a water filled jar and set in a window or under grow lights. Make sure to change the water every few days to avoid stagnant, stinky jars.

Fill a container with sand, potting soil, chopped leaves, or sawdust. Place roots close together, but not touching, into medium. Cover with plastic wrap and place on a heat mat to speed the process. Uncover once sprouts appear.

Just as easy, the sandbox method offers the winter weary gardener an opportunity to dig in the dirt. Fill a small tote, box, or flower pot with moist sand or potting soil. Nestle the sweet potato on its side in the planting medium, leaving up to half of the top exposed. Another option is to cover the entire root with 1 to 2 inches of sand/soil. Be sure to keep the soil moist at all times so the root doesn't dry out.

Both methods will sprout slips within a week or two with a single potato producing up to 20 slips over three or four weeks. Once slips reach 6 to 9 inches, cut them off at the root. The slips are now ready to plant, or place them in jar of water to allow roots to develop. However, it’s not necessary to have roots prior to planting.

Planting time.
While sweet potatoes are not fussy, they do require consistently warm (60-65 degrees) soil at planting time. Once soil temps are stable, plant slips 3 to 4 incehs deep, 10 to 18 inches apart in well-drained soil (sandy loam is best for uniform root development) with a pH of 5.7-6.7. If possible, use raised beds to provide good drainage if your area experiences heavy spring rains. In drier weather, provide 1 inch of water weekly as needed.


Harvest and cure.
Dig roots with a spade fork before soil cools to 50 degrees and before the first hard frost hits. Allow soil to dry on roots. Cure in a shaded, well-ventilated area between 85-90 degrees for seven to 10 days. Then store at 55-60 degrees in a dark location such as a closet or pantry in baskets or burlap sacks. Allow three to four weeks for the full flavor to develop before enjoying.

Easily adaptable to a variety of growing conditions, every garden has a place for a few sweet potatoes. If you start your slips now, you’ll be enjoying homegrown candied yams by Thanksgiving!

Oh, So Simple Sour Cream

Kristi Cook
sour scream

Once you get started DIYing your own dairy products, you may be surprised to find yourself addicted to the fresh taste and sense of empowerment found in controlling what goes into your favorite foods. You’ll find yourself dreaming of freshly churned butter, delighting in from-scratch whipped cream, and experimenting with homemade cheeses. And the good news is that most dairy products may be made from either locally sourced raw milk or commercially prepared products. To keep your DIY dairy skills growing, give old-fashioned sour cream a try. You just may find your newfound addiction growing.

Recipes for dairy products are about as varied as the individuals making them. This is certainly true for sour cream. Here’s my favorite version, mainly because it readily adapts to the quantity of cream I have on hand and doesn’t require an online order of starter cultures.

Place 1 cup or more of fresh, raw or pasteurized cream in a sterilized pint jar. Add 2 tablespoons cultured sour cream for every 1 cup cream. Gently stir to combine. Note: The cultured sour cream you use as a starter can be store bought sour cream as long as the ingredient list says only "cultured cream" with no fillers, or from a previous homemade batch of sour cream.

Leave cream at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours to allow the fermentation process that creates the "soured" flavor to develop. Don’t worry about the cream going rancid as the addition of live cultures allows cream to ferment safely.

Start taste testing periodically after 12 hours and continue to allow the cream to ferment until it reaches your desired tanginess. Once satisfied, refrigerate your fresh, additive-free sour cream for up to a week. Be sure to hold back at least 1/4 cup of your fresh sour cream to make another batch.

A few side notes: I have found that there are times when this new starter doesn’t always work on subsequent batches due to the live cultures wearing out. Each brand of sour cream utilizes their own version and mix of cultures, with some being one-time use and others being of the "heirloom" variety. Of course, there’s no way to know which cultures a brand uses, so a bit of trial and error is necessary if you want to create a starter that you can use multiple times.

Alternatively, you can purchase an inexpensive sour cream starter packet (usually available only online), which offers a more stable and reliable end product. As an added bonus, you can purchase multiple packets at a time and freeze the ones you don’t need right away. These purchased cultures work equally well with both raw and pasteurized milk and tend to produce a consistent flavor in every batch. Look for "heirloom" cultures to produce a sour cream that can be used as a future starter or one-time-use cultures when continuous sour cream supplies are not needed.

Once you take the plunge and begin making your own dairy products, you won’t want to go back to store bought versions. With just a bit of cream and a dollop of cultured sour cream as a starter, you’ll be well on your way to yet another culinary delight.


Fresh, Homemade Butter

 Kristi Cook

Homemade butter is a simple pleasure that you can easily create in a short period of time.

Once you tackle the self-reliant lifestyle, you quickly discover there aren’t many things you can’t make yourself — and make better. For our family, this means better produce, better eggs, better meat, and much better dairy products. Among our favorites are homemade butter, sour cream, and farmer’s cheese. And you don’t even have to own a cow.

Select a milk. Raw milk, or milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized, produces the best tasting products. Goat, cow, sheep, even llama milk may be used, with each lending its own distinctive flavor and texture to the final product. This variety is what makes raw milk products so appealing.

However, if you’re unable to obtain raw milk, or just not comfortable with the whole idea, you can still make great tasting dairy products with pasteurized milk or cream. Just make sure the milk says "pasteurized" rather than "ultra-pasteurized," as ultra-pasteurized milk often will not work.

Two types of butter. Cultured butter is the butter your great-grandparents likely enjoyed and is produced with cream that has fermented, or "soured." It’s flavor is rather distinct, ranging from slightly tangy to profoundly soured. The intensity depends on how ripe the cream is and does require a bit of familiarity with your specific cream’s characteristics since various creams ferment at different rates. When obtaining cream for cultured butter, use only raw cream because pasteurized cream has lost the ability to ferment and must have cultures added in order to ripen safely (which is not covered here).

Sweet butter, on the other hand, has a more modern flavor and can be produced with both raw cream and pasteurized heavy whipping cream. (Again, be sure to avoid ultra pasteurized cream.) Raw cream tends to produce a richer, more vibrant yellow butter than pasteurized and has a much sweeter taste. However, pasteurized works just fine, usually resulting in a milder flavor much like the store bought varieties of sweet butter.

A mason jar works perfectly for making small batches of butter.

Butter making in a nutshell. Or in a mason jar. Yes, you can still buy butter churns, but they really aren’t necessary unless you plan to make a lot of butter at one time. I find that simpler is better and opt for a single, quart-sized mason jar. The only other items needed are cheesecloth or a jelly strainer bag, a bowl, and a spoon.

For cultured butter, allow raw cream to sour naturally in the refrigerator (this may take a week or longer), or pour cream into a loosely covered mason jar — no more than three-quarters full — and leave in a warm location until it smells slightly soured. As a general rule, the more soured the cream is, the more soured, or tangy, the finished butter will be. Once you finish your first batch, you may wish to adjust the amount of time you allow the cream to ripen in order to obtain just the right flavor.

If you want sweet butter instead, place the raw or pasteurized cream in a lightly covered jar on a countertop and allow cream to come close to room temperature. Keep in mind that if the cream is left out past the "almost warm" stage, it will begin to sour if the cream is raw or go rancid if using pasteurized cream.

You’ll know the butter is ready for washing when you see a large mass of butter curds in the jar.

Once cream has soured (for cultured butter) or warmed (for sweet butter), place lid and band onto jar. Briskly shake, "slamming" cream against the walls. You’ll notice a change in the cream’s movement as it thickens within 5-15 minutes. A little longer, and clumps of butter will form and the mixture will start to leave the walls of the jar. At this point, reduce shaking to a moderate level and continue until jar walls are clear.

When it appears all the butter curds have formed, pour contents into cheesecloth or towel to drain, catching the buttermilk in a glass container for later use. You’ll need to wash the butter next to keep the butter from souring during storage. To do this, use a spoon to move the curds around, pressing out as much buttermilk as possible. Gently rinse several times with cool water until water remains clear. Place washed butter in a bowl and add salt/seasonings, if desired. Store covered in the refrigerator or freeze for later use.

Don’t throw out the remaining liquid. It’s a delicious buttermilk perfect for biscuits and pancakes — smothered in butter, of course!

Once you’ve enjoyed fresh, homemade butter, you’ll find commercially prepared butter much less appealing. The difference in flavor is enough to make almost anyone wish for a dairy animal of their own. The same holds true for virtually all homemade dairy products, so stay tuned for the next post I send along, as I will share how to make homemade sour cream and farmer’s cheese.

Render Your Own Tallow

Kristi Cook

IMG_7201 (1)

So you’ve decided to try your hand at creating old-fashioned tallow candles. Or maybe you’ve decided to make the switch from conventional shortening and vegetable oils to the more healthful and time honored practice of cooking with tallow. Whatever the case, rendering your own tallow from grassfed beef fat is both easy and satisfying. All it takes is a crockpot or large stock pot, a supply of beef fat, and time.

To get started, obtain the best quality beef fat possible, preferably from grassfed animals. It doesn’t really matter which part of the animal the fat comes from as it all makes fine cooking and crafting tallow. However, the fat located around the kidneys, also known as leaf fat, is the mildest tasting, cleanest, and hardest fat, making it the fat of choice when it’s available.

Once you have your fat in hand, you’ll need to trim off as much muscle tissue, skin, gristle, and other nonfat particles as you can. I have found this process is much easier if the fat is nearly frozen but not quite hard yet. If the kidney was left in the leaf fat, carefully trim the fat from the organ as cleanly as possible. It’s ok if you cut into the kidney, however, as any nonfat tissue will be rendered out in the end. Also, leaf fat tends to have a covering of clearish tissue surrounding it; just slice or pull as much of it away as possible. Again, any remaining pieces will be cooked out during the rendering process.

IMG_7121 (1)

After you’ve removed as much of the impurities as possible, cut the fat into small pieces to make the rendering process go faster. You can do this with a sharp knife or even kitchen shears; however, I prefer to grind all the trimmed pieces in a food processor until it resembles ground meat. To keep the fat from sticking to the blades, I usually toss any warm fat back into the frig for a couple of hours before grinding, but it’s not totally necessary.

For the rendering process, you can choose either the wet or dry method. Wet rendering is the practice of adding about 1/4 to 1/2 cup water to the pan to avoid burning the fat as it slowly melts. This added water also allows for a slightly reduced amount of stirring in the beginning. The main concern with wet rendering is that any water left in the final product will cause premature rancidity. However, as long as you render the fat completely the water will evaporate and won’t pose any issues.

Dry rendering is the same as the wet process, except no water is utilized. Rather, it involves slowly heating the fat in a crockpot, skillet, or pot with careful and frequent stirring used in the beginning to avoid scorching. The plus side is no concern over water remaining in the finished product. The downside is it can scorch easily if you heat it too quickly.

Regardless of which method you choose, slowly melt the fat over medium low heat (or the low setting on a crockpot) and stir frequently. You’ll notice changes as the fat begins to VERY slowly melt. Don’t be tempted to speed up the process though, as this increases the likelihood of burning. This is where patience becomes a virtue. The melting process itself may take half an hour to several hours depending on the size of your batch.

IMG_7169 (1)

While the melting process takes time, the rendering part always seems to go faster. After the fat has mostly liquefied, watch and listen for the fat to start hissing and spitting. This is the fat releasing it’s impurities, water, etc. You’ll see small pieces — sometimes called cracklings — float to the top. Take a large slotted spoon and remove these impurities as they appear to avoid smoking up your kitchen.

You’ll know the rendering is complete once you see clear liquid in the bottom and few remaining floaters and other debris throughout (provided you skimmed these off). At this point, remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool enough to be handled. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth and store in clean jars or pour into a pan and allow to cool. Personally, I prefer to store my tallow in the refrigerator and freezer, but the traditional practice was to keep a can of tallow on the stove so the cook could remove scoops as needed while making dinner. It’s your choice, just be watchful of rancidity regardless of your storage method.

Rendering your own tallow is a simple affair of gathering one ingredient and a single pot. Add to that a bit of time, and you’re well on your way to the best homemade cooking and handcrafted gifts. Once you’ve made your first batch, you’ll likely never go back to store bought imposters again.

Old-Fashioned Tallow Candles

Kristi Cook 


Of all the self-reliant skills I’ve learned over the years, one of my favorites is turning ordinary animal fats into emergency lighting. I’m talking plain, old-fashioned candles using whatever animal fat is on hand just as our ancestors did. This often free and readily available material makes creating candles in a pinch an easy task to accomplish, with the added bonus of requiring only basic equipment commonly found in the kitchen, a few items from the tool shed, and purchased or handmade wicking material.

While paraffin and beeswax candle bases have been around for many years, animal fat remains the most reliable material in times of need. Free to the livestock owner and hunter, any animal fat — sheep, elk, caribou, bear — may be used with mostly minor differences. For instance, lard made from pig fat tends to be softer and faster burning than tallow from beef or venison, thus making it difficult to create pillars or dipped candles. However, this softer fat is well suited for container candles that have the added benefit of being tidy and drip free. Tallow, on the other hand, makes excellent pillars and dipped candles perfect for situations when drips and melting tallow can be contained.


Molds and containers may also be made from readily available materials. Potato chip containers, waxed drink boxes, even sturdy, old paper towel rolls will work. These will, of course, be one use molds as they will need to be pulled off the candle prior to lighting. Other options include PVC pipe sliced down the middle to make a two piece mold. Just duct tape the two pieces together with a piece of cardboard taped to the bottom. Once the wax hardens and cools, cut the tape away and pull the candle out. For container candles, almost any nonflammable container will do. Old jelly jars, mason jars, soup cans, and even sturdy, heat proof pottery works nicely. Be creative, and you’ll find molds and containers just about anywhere.

Wicking is, perhaps, the most difficult aspect of candle making to master. The problem lies in the fact that each base (paraffin, soy, beeswax, etc.) and candle size requires a different type of wicking to produce the best burn. And while manufacturers have suggestions for which styles work best with each particular base, most do not list animal fats as an option. As a result, my general rule when using tallow and lard is to choose wicking made for softer waxes such as soy or vegan, yet this does not always work. So its best to experiment with a few small batches to determine which wicking works best for your situation.

If, however, you’re unable to access pre-made wicking, just find sources of cotton material such as old cotton clothing, bedsheets, or even cotton yarn. While the burn will not be as efficient as with pre-made wicking, handmade wicks work just fine when the need for emergency lighting becomes real. Simply cut thin strips of material and braid or twist together tightly. Soak wicking for several minutes in your candle base, remove, and hang or lay flat to allow to harden. For longer lengths, roll into a loose ball for easy storage and cut as needed. Again, experimentation is key.

Once you have everything in place, determine if you want to make pillars, containers, tapers, or votives. Each has its own set of benefits and downsides, so it’s wise to have a variety whenever possible. For low light that doesn’t travel far, small votives placed in a mostly covered container work quite well. For the brightest lighting, tapers and pillars seem to work best in a glass "lantern" style holder with reflectors. And yet, I like tin can or container candles best when little ones or pets are running underfoot.

Old-fashioned candle making is both a fun and useful skill to have using materials you may already have at home. When burning your own creation, you’ll discover a sense of comfort knowing you can fill the need for lighting in a pinch no matter the situation.

Candle Making Process

Using a double boiler, place rendered tallow, lard, etc. into a large pot. Heat over medium heat until fully melted. A thermometer is not really necessary for emergency candles since you’re not concerned about blemishes.

While fats are melting, cover workspace with paper to catch any drips, and set out/prepare molds and containers.


Cut wicking several inches longer than needed. Tie a hex nut or other small, but heavy item to the end of the wick to keep the wick from floating in the container or curling when dipped. The hex nut will be removed from the hardened taper or recycled after the candle burns out. Alternatively, purchase wick tabs and glue dots to fasten wicking to the bottom of the container. Use pencils, bamboo skewers, or other items to keep the wick centered until the wax hardens.


Once the base melts, add beeswax or stearic acid, if using, and gently stir until fully melted. Slowly pour wax into mold or container or begin making dipped tapers.

If making dipped tapers, dip quickly and hang wicking from a rack until hardened. Repeat dipping multiple times until taper is of the desired width. Once completed and fully hardened, cut the nut from the end of the taper and enjoy.

Perennial Onions

Kristi Cook

perennial onions

Of all the pantry staples we grow on our homestead, producing a year-long supply of onions evaded me for many years. Not only do I tend to forget where I plant those spring onion sets as the garden grows, but I inevitably set out too few. Then a few will rot, others will be given away, and still others simply disappear (onion eating moles?). Finally, I had a eureka moment as I observed my perennial planting of asparagus and decided to try my hand at perennial onions. And I am so glad I did. These little gems produce onions throughout most of the winter and into early spring, perfectly filling the gaps left by my spring plantings of common onions. As an added bonus, they reproduce every year and stay in one place — much like my asparagus.

Common vs. Perennial

Most onions grown in home gardens are biennials, often referred to as the common onion. These are the little bunches of baby onions (or onion sets) usually found in wooden crates at the big box stores in early spring. Holes are dug; sets are plopped in. Within a couple of weeks, onion greens pop up signaling that it’s time to enjoy green onions. However, the patient gardener who foregoes this early spring treat is rewarded within a couple of months with varying sizes of onion bulbs ready for eating or winter storage. This cycle repeats itself every year with newly purchased bundles of onion sets.

onion greens
Fresh from the garden onion greens gracing the Christmas table are just one of the many benefits of perennial onions.

Not so with perennial onions. Usually planted in fall — or even early winter — onion greens are harvested throughout the cold winter months as individual greens are clipped from the growing plants (and occasionally in summer, depending on the variety) while bulbs are typically left in the ground to multiply into still more onions during the first year. Once established, bulbs may be dug up and enjoyed with dinner or stored for winter meals. To keep the perennial aspect of these onions intact, several bulbs are then set aside to create an ample supply for replanting the following year. Even better, depending on where you garden, most varieties may be left in the ground year round allowing for impromptu harvesting as the need arises, and divided once every few years.

Egyptian walking onion 

 The most interesting of the perennial onions, this unusual allium not only grows tasty shallot sized bulbs and greens, but it also produces a delicious cluster of bulblets at the top of its stem known as topsets. Once the topset becomes heavy enough, it causes the stem to bend to the ground allowing the bulblets to take root and grow into even more plants. Each of the new plants then carries on this cycle of growing topsets and planting themselves, thus creating the appearance of onions walking across the garden in a rather haphazard fashion. Alternatively, clusters may be removed and bulblets eaten or planted in a preferred location.

Potato onions

Often called multiplier onions, potato onions are planted as a single bulb in fall and produce greens throughout much of winter. Once spring arrives, the single bulb divides into two or more bulbs and is then ready for harvesting by division. Both large and small bulbs may be planted in the spring or fall with fall plantings typically producing the highest yields. However, you can leave the bulbs in the ground year round, only lifting bulbs to gather your family’s needs and dividing clumps of bulbs every couple of years.

blanching leeks
Blanch leeks by piling dirt or mulch around the stems as they grow. This produces the tasty white stems that leeks are best known for.

Perennial leeks

 While not technically an onion, but rather a cousin, perennial leeks may be grown year round and harvested throughout winter to be used in place of traditional onions or pulled at younger stages to be enjoyed like green onions. Smaller in size than their annual counterparts, perennial leeks produce bulbils around the bulbs that may be removed and replanted in spring. The key to great tasting leeks is blanching the stems, or blocking sunlight to prevent photosynthesis from turning the stem green. Blanch by piling dirt around the stem as it grows or place seedlings into deep holes if growth is present.

Egyptian walking onions, potato onions, and perennial leeks are not the only perennial options available, and each year I try to add at least one new variety to my perennial beds. Over time, I’m discovering my onion woes have been greatly diminished with the added bonus of each new variety adding even more flavor to our family dishes. And because we homestead and grow much of our own food, I relish the sustainability and time-saving qualities of planting each onion one time with little followup care needed. Now that’s a crop worth keeping.