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Stocking the Pantry

September 29th, 2016

This time of year the pantry, root cellar, and freezer start to fill up once again. I always am amazed by how full the freezer gets, I think I’ll never be able to eat all the vegetables tucked away inside. Then, come March, I’m thankful that I spent the effort to freeze all the garden bounty. For the most part, the vegetables I freeze last us until spring greens are available from the garden once again. While I do buy a few vegetables here and there throughout the winter months, the majority of it comes from the freezer.
One of the things I’m most thankful for in the winter: onions. I grow loads of alliums: leeks, onions, shallots, potato onions, and scallions. Having a full year’s supply of onions in the pantry is a wonderful feeling. Most of them get put into baskets and are stored in an unheated bedroom upstairs, but I can’t resist making a few braids to hang in the pantry off the kitchen. Every time I come and go they bring a smile to my face.

What’s your favorite item to grow for storing?

Using up Seeds

May 30th, 2016

I start onions from seed each year, mostly because I can find varieties that I can’t get in sets/plants and because they store longer than onions grown from sets. I like to grow 4-5 different varieties, which means I always have loads of extra onion seed.
seeding onions 4
Since it doesn’t store from year to year, I plant all the seeds thickly in rows and either harvest them as small set onions for quick growth the following spring, or as scallions during the summer/fall.
seeding onions 1
seeding onions 2
The direct seeded onions have germinated and are growing nicely, though the ones I seeded indoors back in March are much larger.
seeding onions 3
This year I may try transplanting a few of the direct seeded onions to see how they size up and store. It would be nice to direct seed onions and save a bit of time, but I might have to experiment with different varieties. Either way, I enjoy scallions, pearl onions, and onion sets and I don’t have seed going bad.

Do you grow onions from seed, sets, or plants?

Onions, Onions, Onions

February 25th, 2016

I love growing onions, of all colors, shapes, and sizes. I love starting my onions from seed. I love, love, love eating onions.
starting onion seeds 5
onion braids 1
Onion Harvest 2
onions (1)
planning for onions all year long 2
Each year I grow loads of onions, loads. Generally I harvest around 200 lbs of onions to eat throughout the year. That number doesn’t include green onions and leeks. We eat an AMAZING amount of onions. Many years ago, I decided to start growing them from seed myself, both because it saved me money and because you can find so many interesting varieties. In my experience, starting them from seeds makes them store longer. This past week I started 3 flats of onion seeds, I still have 3 more to get going this week. Onions are probably one of my most favorite crops to grow.

Do you grow onions? Have you started them from seed?

Planting Onions

May 11th, 2015

When you first begin gardening you follow the recommendations on the seed packets and in the gardening books. Then you read books that give different tips and you see different methods while visiting gardens.
onions at Johnnys seeds
I remember when I first started growing onions, I carefully planted them with the proper distance in between bulbs. Then I saw where someone planted them closer, just like Johnny’s Seeds does at their research farm in the photo above. I started planting them closer, and closer, and closer with no loss in size of quality of onions.
onions (1)
Then I read in Charles Dowding’s Vegetable Course to plant them in clumps of three. GENIUS – I though to myself and I started using this method. They grow just as well as when planted individually and it’s so much faster to plant them this way then in individually. They are also much easier to weed since there aren’t individual plants to weed around.
onions (2)
Yesterday I planted 60 seedlings each of 9 different varieties of onions. Onions are one of those things I love to grow, I could definitely get them cheaper at the farmers market, but I love the process of starting them from seed in February, planting them in the garden in May, harvesting them in July, and eating them all winter. There’s something about growing onions that I love.

Have you discovered any interesting planting methods that went against the normal recommendations?

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?

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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.