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Bringing in the Sheaves (or braids)

October 11th, 2014

Yesterday I started bringing in the onion crop. They have been drying in the top of the garage for a month or so. This year they were harvested a bit later than last, they didn’t get blown over like they did last year. The results were much larger onions, which I’m pretty happy about.
onion braids 1
I only braid the smaller onions, the big ones are put into wooden boxes in a single layer and stowed away in the basement where it’s nice and cool. Usually they last through early June of the following year, just in time for spring onions and small fresh onions. This is my best onion harvest so far, I’m guessing I harvested around a hundred and fifty pounds of onions.
onion braids 2
Onions are one of my favorite crops to grow, I love nurturing them from tiny seeds. Perhaps I love growing them so much because I really love eating them. Pretty much every meal around here begins with the chopping of an onion!

What’s your favorite crop to grow?

Friday Favorite: Planting Things

May 9th, 2014

It’s always nice to finally start planting things I started as seed so long ago. Yesterday evening I planted three of the four flats of onion seedlings. It’s always excited to start putting seedlings in the ground after nurturing them for so long.
empty seed flats (1)
The empty seed flats will be filled with more seeds: leeks for fall planting, warm weather flowers, herbs, and other random seeds I haven’t had the space to start yet. The best part about planting seedling is that the garden is finally starting to look like a garden.

What are you planting this week?

Sets or Pearls

August 29th, 2013

Very early this spring, I direct sowed some onion seed in the low tunnel. I added a label that said “bunching onions”. Since I had seed for red bunching onions, I wasn’t surprised when they came up with red stems. Then, they started to bulb a little, not exactly what I thought was going to happen.
red pearl onions 1
Evidently, these were bulbing onions and not bunching onions. I don’t know if I planted the wrong packet of seed, or if the seed packet was mislabeled. It doesn’t really matter, I can use these onions as pearl onions or I could save them and use them as sets for next year. I don’t usually grow onions from sets because they have a tendency to flower and I don’t find that they store as well.
red pearl onions 2
Of course pearl onions would be nice as well, I was thinking I might pickle them if I chose to use them in that way. Peeling all those onions will be a chore though, not something I’m looking forward to.

Would you save these and plant them or enjoy them as pearl onions?

Best Harvest Ever!

August 17th, 2013

I’m a lover of onions and can never seem to grow enough of them. Over the past couple years, I’ve been augmenting my bulb onions with other alliums (read my post about alternative alliums here). Even so, I always run out of onions and other alliums and end up buying a few at the farmers market.  This year might be the first year I don’t have to.
Onion Harvest 1
Onion Harvest 3
Onion Harvest 2
The main crop of storage onions was harvested last week, here’s a look at what I have to squirrel away in the larder.  They’re drying in the upstairs of our garage where it’s nice & warm. It’s quite impressive I must say, I’ve never had enough space to grow this many onions.  If you can believe it, this is only 3/4 of my crop, there are some still growing in the garden to be harvested in a few weeks.
Onion Harvest 5
The main varieties I grew were: Copra, Australian Brown, Sedona, Cortland, and Redwing.  I had seeds for Ailsa Craig, but somehow they didn’t get started, I guess the seed packet got lost in the shuffle.  I also started seed for a red torpedo onion, which never germinated.
Onion Harvest 6
Onion Harvest 4
I already have a long row of leeks in the garden for next spring and three different kinds of bunching onions as well.  The perennial leek bulbs will be planted soon, along with the potato onions and shallots as well.  Little by little, I’m achieving allium independence – which is a beautiful thing if you consume as many alliums as we do.  This large crop of onions will save me a good deal on groceries, looks like I can buy more of my favorite chocolate (which happens to be Taza).

Do you grow alliums in your garden? How many different kinds do you grow?

The Edible 2011 Garden is Here

January 25th, 2011

On January 16 I started my first flats seeds for the 2011 edible gardening season. I started half a flat of each ‘Red Burgundy’ and ‘Borettana Cipollini’ onions. Onions like warm soil, so I put it on the 10″ x 20″ seedling heating mat my mom lent me. I covered the flat with a clear dome to keep in the warmth and the moisture and waiting, checking on them every day of course.

When I checked them in the morning on January 21 and I had germination! That’s pretty quick for onion seeds, they always seem to take a little extra time. Of course there were only a dozen or so tiny shoots on that day. Seeing those first little green shoots of the seed starting season is always an exciting thing!

Yesterday every soil block in the flat had at least one little green shoot and most of them had three. Looks like these onions will be ready to plant out in the garden come March. I can’t wait!


I also have other onions in the basement planted only 2 days later, but since they’re not on a heating mat they haven’t germinated yet. I ordered a 48″ x 20″ heating mat which will have enough room for four flats. I’m hoping it arrives soon so I can start 4 more flats of onions. If you’re planning on starting a lot of vegetables that like warm soil as onions, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes, a heating mat is definitely a good investment. Especially if you happen to have your seeds starting area in a 55 degree basement like I do. At least it’s the perfect temp down there for spinach and lettuce seedlings, which I take full advantage of mid-summer when starting my fall greens.

Do you use heating mats in your seed starting efforts?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

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