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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?

29 Comments to “Best Harvest Ever!”
  1. kristin @ going country on August 17, 2013 at 5:23 am

    We had a good year for onions too–all that rain. Although I think one of the big rain storms knocked them down too early, so they didn’t grow as long as they should have, they still did well.

    We always grow a lot of leeks, which are great for winter here because they stay right out in the garden. And are the best ever with roasted meat.

    Usually I grow shallots, too, but didn’t save any for planting last year after the dismal garden crops I got from the mostly neglected garden, and I never picked any up early enough in the year to plant for this year. So I’ll have to start over again next year. Shallots are so ridiculously expensive to buy, but so easy to grow. Good return on the effort to plant.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on August 17, 2013 at 7:33 am

      I’m with you on the shallot thing – so expensive at the market. I’ll be ordering some shallot sets as well for fall planting.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Lisa on August 17, 2013 at 11:58 pm

        Susy can you let me know where you get your shallots? I’d like to plant some too. I’m in RI so we probably have pretty similar planting schedules.

        to Lisa's comment

  2. Mike on August 17, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Hi Susy, how do you store your onions? Do you guys have a cold room?
    I took a break from planting onions this year – had an infestation of Leek Moths which stunted the growth of my onions and garlic last summer. I had them all over my garlic this summer as well and had to pick them off every day for 2 weeks to get rid of them all. Hoping that will have gotten rid of them for good – although garlic leaves were pretty mangled from operation pinch it, the garlic bulbs themselves came out pretty good. Have you ever encountered problems with the Leek Moths on your onions or garlic? I’m just west of Montreal, Quebec – not too far from you guys.
    Loving your blog!

    Reply to Mike's comment

    • Susy on August 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      I store mine in the basement, not in the root cellar. Onions tend to like a less humid environment than a root cellar provides.

      I’ve never had issues with the leek moth, probably not planting alliums for a season will help get rid of them.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Misti on August 17, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Wow, awesome harvest. Do you chop up some and freeze or keep them all whole?

    Reply to Misti's comment

    • Susy on August 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      They get braided and hung in the basement, where they pretty much last until the following April.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  4. Jennifer on August 17, 2013 at 8:18 am

    I notice you’re lining each side of a strawberry bed with onions. Any chance that this helps keep rabbits away? I’ve never tried onions outside of my rabbit proof fence before so I’m not sure whether they eat onions or not. Always looking for new strategies that don’t involve fencing every plant in my yard!

    Reply to Jennifer's comment

  5. Lisa on August 17, 2013 at 8:18 am

    I love onions! They are one of my favorite veggies. I always joke and say if you gave me the choice between chocolate and a pan of caramelized onions, I’d pick the onions every time! My favorite recipe is one on my blog…Roasted Parmesan Creamed Onions. I could eat the whole pan myself!

    Reply to Lisa's comment

    • Joan on August 17, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      Oh, that recipe looks SO good! I’m going to have to try it. I’m with you – caramelized onions over chocolate any day! Like Susy, we grow lots of onions, including a lot of sweet ones that don’t store well. We usually chop these and freeze them, but this year my plan is to have my husband make up a huge batch of caramelized onions, then store them in small quantities so I can pull out just a few to use any time…

      Reply to Joan's comment

    • Susy on August 17, 2013 at 3:02 pm

      MMM, that sounds wonderful. I’ll definitely be making it soon.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. KimH on August 17, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Beautiful harvest! I’ve never been successful at growing onions.. I can get them started but they just never make it past the transplanting. I’ve got leek & onions still in milk cartons on my deck.. haha..

    I also got some ramps a couple weeks ago & plan to plant them today at the bottom of my deck.. Im hoping they “take” to my soil/shade there.. Wish me luck!

    I grow garlic and chives always and am usually quite successful. This year, most of my garlic rotted… I at least have enough to plant my bed again this fall.. thankfully!

    Reply to KimH's comment

  7. Joan on August 17, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Susy, do you want some Egyptian Walking onions (topset onions)? I planted some last year. They’re interesting, but I’m not sure I’m going to continue with them… If you’d like some, they’re yours…

    Reply to Joan's comment

    • Susy on August 17, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      I have some actually, I love them in spring as green onions.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Charlie@Seattle Trekker on August 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Congratulations on a great harvest, it really looks tasty.

    Reply to Charlie@Seattle Trekker's comment

  9. Lemongrass on August 17, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    what a great harvest!!!!!!!!!!!! this season i want to plant some red bunching onions for cooking and pickling. onions are one of my favorite food crop. you gonna need lots of help braiding these onions.

    Reply to Lemongrass's comment

  10. Marby on August 17, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Hi Susy, I just want to say I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting your site for a little while now and want to thank you for the wealth of information and interest you provide.

    This post is is a favourite.That is the most amazing crop of onions I have seen anywhere! The line-up surely looks impressive!

    I grow a small amount of garlic, leek and onions. The onions often send up a thick stem with a flowerhead. Very pretty but at the expense of the bulb I think. Do you pick off any flowers that your onions grow?

    Reply to Marby's comment

    • Susy on August 18, 2013 at 7:17 am

      The flowering is most likely to happen in plants grown from sets. All of my onions are started from seed and I’ve never had one set flower. The flowering stalks will reduce the size of onions and often make them not fit for long storage. I’d highly recommend starting from seed, if that’s not for you, try growing from purchases plants instead of sets.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Marby on August 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm

        Thank you very much. Will try the seeds.

        to Marby's comment

  11. Lexa on August 17, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    That’s an amazing harvest Susy. You and I are kindred Allium Spirits! I always grow alliums in my garden and I recommend them to beginning gardeners too. For not a lot of effort you get such rewards! I just harvested “Chesnook Red” & ” Russian Red” garlic. I have also been enjoying “Candy” Sweet onions. It is just about time to harvest my two storage varieties ” Red Bull” & “Frontier”. You can never have too many onions stored away for the Winter!

    Reply to Lexa's comment

  12. Dawn on August 17, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Tremendous harvest. Wish I had the space. Jealous.

    Reply to Dawn's comment

  13. Bacon on August 17, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Great harvest of onions, I like many of the other commenters also love onions, they are so versatile and go in almost every dish I make.
    I grew a small crop of onions this year ~30 from sets from a nursery. This will be the first fall that I plant crops for the next spring.
    Do you have any advice on fall planting of crops that overwinter?
    How late in the fall do you plant, what types of crops work best?

    Reply to Bacon's comment

    • Susy on August 18, 2013 at 9:00 pm

      Fall crops depends on what exactly you mean. Garlic is a good one, as are shallots. You plant in fall and harvest next year. If you’re looking for veggies to harvest in spring, I’d go with kale, spinach, and chard for fall crops. It’s the time now to plant for fall, you really want to have the plant be mature by the time the weather cools and the days get shorter, they don’t do much growing after that.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Reddirtmomma on August 17, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    We have been growing onions from sets, but this year many of them flowered early and won’t store well. I’m planning to start onions from seed this winter for planting out next spring. I hope to one day have a harvest like you! Also, I planted some Welsh onions this year, hoping they will result in perennial green onions for salads.

    Reply to Reddirtmomma's comment

    • Susy on August 18, 2013 at 7:15 am

      That’s exactly why I don’t grow from sets, far too many of them set flower instead of bulbing up well, and then they won’t store. I much prefer onions grown from seed, in my experience they store far better than onions grown from set or even from purchased plants.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  15. Nebraska Dave on August 18, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Susy, I would like to plant more onions next year. I’m a bit confused through because some are planted in the fall and some are planted in the spring. Is the difference the kind of onions? I think that garlic is planted in the fall and you mentioned that leeks are also planted in the fall but my issue is where to get the bulbs to plant. Is that done by catalog order? I’ve just never done fall planting but would like to find a source of how to do that. I suppose some good internet research is in order.

    You indicated that you grow onions from seed? Wow, that’s impressive. Onions take so long to germinate and grow into plants. I did try to sow seeds directly into the garden soil but the plants were very fragile and weeds took over the patch. It’s very difficult to pull weeds without disturbing the hair like onion plants.

    Have a great onion storage day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

    • Susy on August 18, 2013 at 8:58 pm

      Some onions are like garlic and are planted in the fall because they reproduce in bulbs, like shallots. I have heard that some people plant onions in fall, but if they’re normal bulbing onions I’m not sure how well that works. Onions are biennial so they will bloom the second year to produce seed (hence the higher chance of blooms with sets).

      I just ordered some garlic bulbs from Salt River Garlic. Southern Exposure and other places also have them.

      I have the same trouble as you with direct sowing of onions. I think in more northerly climates the soil stays cold for too long for direct seeding well. It’s much easier to grow onions from see if you start them indoors. You should give that a try sometime, you’ll notice now much easier it is.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  16. Colleen on August 20, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I’m envious of your beautiful oinion harvest! We do grow some alliums, but this was the first year we have grown onions that are actually large enough to have much of a harvest. We had almost given up on planting them , but we eat so many that I needed to try again. This year we grew mainly, Copras, started from seed by a local farmer. I think that may be the secret, start from seed.

    We have had trouble growing garlic too, the end result is not much larger than what we plant. I’ll keep trying.

    Enjoy your beautiful onion harvest.

    Reply to Colleen's comment

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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