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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: Growing Onions from Seed

February 28th, 2014

I love onions, love love love them. I’m fairly certain not a day goes by that I don’t include onions in my diet. As a result I grow lots of onions. After being disappointed in the varieties of onions available in plant/set, I began starting my onions from seed.
starting onion seeds 1
This year I’m trying a few open pollinated varieties and would like to try producing some of my own seed for the future. That’s one reason I chose to grow ‘Clear Dawn’, which is a stabilized open pollinated version of ‘Copra’ a popular long-storing onion.
starting onion seeds 3
My ‘Redwing’ onions from last year are storing like champs, which is very rare for red onions. I’m growing them again along with ‘Red Bull’ which is supposed to be an open pollinated long storing red onion. I’ll compare how it stores alongside the ‘Redwing’ onions.
starting onion seeds 4
starting onion seeds 5
‘Red Weathersfield’ is considered to be one of the healthiest onions, it contains high levels of antioxidants and other goodness. It’s also supposed to store well, we shall see how it stacks up to the other two red varieties above.
starting onion seeds 6
I’m also starting a few varieties of leeks, they are great when you don’t want too much oniony flavor and they are great for augmenting the onions in the winter since they’re so cold tolerant.
starting onion seeds 2
This is the first year I’ve been able to grow enough onions for my kitchen. My onion harvest is still storing well and I have a good number in the pantry. When the garden thaws I’ll have a few overwintered leeks as well to help make them last until the 2014 harvest comes in.

What’s your favorite vegetable to start from seed?

A Sweet Gift

November 21st, 2012

On Sunday afternoon, a friend and her husband came over and we spent the afternoon enjoying great food and then soaked up some sun while hiking through the woods behind our house. She’s a blog reader and was the one who helped us find this place here in Maine. She’s also a gardener and brought along a few lovely sweet onions as a housewarming gift. Along with a beautiful pottery bowl she made!

Back in February and May, we stayed with her while looking at this property and a few others. While there, she was telling me about the Ailsa Craig onion she had ordered to grow. True to the description, they grew HUGE. She did provide them with the water they relish by surrounding them with soaker hoses which no doubt helped.

Two nights ago, I cut one of these beauties up for my cranberry chutney. The other two will travel back to Ohio for our family Thanksgiving meal. I’m thinking one will find it’s way into the sourdough stuffing and the other into a sweet onion gravy.

I especially fond of the fact that this onion is an heirloom and that you can find seed for it (I’m going to order them from High Mowing Seeds). When it comes to onions I much prefer to start with seed rather than with plants or sets.

Are there any new things you’ve already discovered for next year’s garden?

Real Food

July 14th, 2012

Maybe most important, farm food itself is totally different from what most people now thing of as food: none of those colorful boxed and bagged products, precut, parboiled, ready to eat, and engineered to appeal to our basic desires. We were selling the opposite: naked, unprocessed food, two steps from the dirt.

Kristin Kimball from The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love

The main reason I started an edible garden is because I was dissatisfied with the quality of produce at the grocery store. There’s just something about food that’s freshly plucked from the garden. I still buy some things at my local farmer’s market, but even that isn’t quite as good as something that’s only minutes from plant to plate.

This week we’ve been enjoying so many wonderful homegrown vegetables: beets, potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, and all kinds of herbs to season and add flavor. Every morning we’ve been enjoying harvest vegetable hash with eggs poached on top – life is truly good! (for my recipe visit Eat Outside the Bag).

What are you enjoying from the garden this week?

Forum Onions in the Garden

June 19th, 2012

Last Friday I harvested the first bulbing onions from the garden. After a few months relying on leeks and green onions to fill the onion void, it was cause for a small celebration. Most of my onions aren’t even close to being ready to harvest, more on those varieties tomorrow.

Last year I came across ‘Forum’ onions – described by Johnny’s Seeds as: Forum onion sets can be planted in the spring and yield a “green top” cooking onion by the beginning of July and a dried bulb by the end of July. This onion will fill the gap between last year’s storage onions and this year’s crop from seed. Not for long storage. Best at 37° latitude and higher.

They went into the ground the day after they arrived in the mailbox, April 12 (wish they had arrived a month earlier). I’ve been watching them and was pleasantly surprised when they started forming bulbs much earlier than my other onions, which were planted later than these.

They’re not fully formed yet, but some of the tops are flopping over already. The ones I harvested were about the size of a golf ball with one that was closing in on baseball size. They good thing is that these don’t store for very long so they’re not meant to be kept as a storage onion. They’re meant to be used up quickly making it easier to harvest them early like this.

Now that I’ve discovered this gem it will always have a place in my garden. I’ll be trying to find another variety or two early maturing onions to add alongside these. Some research produced a few early maturing short storage onions that can be grown from seed: Arsenal, Early Yellow Globe, Precedent. I’ll be searching for seeds for these varieties as well since I prefer to grow my own onions from seed rather than purchased sets or plants.

Do you have a hard time harvesting vegetables before they’re fully mature or full sized?

Reading & Watching

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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.