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Finally, A Decent Onion from My Garden

September 20th, 2011

I’ve declared my love for all things of the allium family before. I really do love onions and have always been disappointed that the ones I harvest from my garden are small. I’ve tried growing onions from seed, from sets and from plants. Each year I harvest mostly teeny tiny onions. I’m pretty sure it’s soil here, which is very, very lean. This year I planted my onions in the new garden that I prepared in the lot we purchased this spring. I started them from seed early in January and transplanted them as quickly as I could, which was not super early since I had to clear the lot and make a new garden area.

The new bed was amended with a generous amount of bone meal and I was religious about weeding the new onion bed, going through it once a week and the onions seemed to really appreciate my extra efforts in this area. I gave them a watering with Neptune’s Harvest once a month. The onions weren’t quite ready to harvest when we went on vacation and I was hoping it wouldn’t be too late when we got home. Luckily, it wasn’t.

I’m a big believer in planting different varieties of vegetable to find one that does well in your particular micro-climate and soil. Each year I try different kinds of vegetables to find the one best suited for my garden, every now and then I get lucky and find one the first year that does very well (like ‘Boston Pickling’ cucumbers). Of the several of onions I planted, two of them produced much larger nicer bulbs than the rest. Which ones?

Yellow Sweet Spanish Onion – These golden onions produce fruit up to 1 lb (16 oz.) and their great flavor lasts longer than most other varieties. Yellow Sweet Spanish onions are gardeners’ favorites because they grow quickly without much effort. You will be able to harvest your onions less than four months after planting. (Source: Sand Hill Preservation)

These onions did very well and I’ll definitely be growing them again, especially since they’re supposed to be a good storage onion. I need an onion that will store into April, hopefully these will.
Borettana Cipollini – Gourmet Italian. Small, flat yellow onions. Shaped much like a button. A long day type with average storage ability of around 4 months. Mild well developed flavor. These flattened little onions are sought after for their distinct sweet taste. They command a high price at specialty markets. Small size 1-3 inches in diameter by 1 inch depth. For pickling, grilling and in salads. A good onion for colder climates. Comes out firm, stores well. Fills the gap between winter-stored onions and the early new ones. (Source: Sand Hill Preservation)

I was also quite happy with these little lovelies, for cipollini onions they’re quite large. I really love the flavor of these, especially when used whole in roasts, so I’ll be growing them again as well.

Not all the onions grew to a substantial size, I still had some tiny ones from the other varieties I tried. I don’t really mind, as they’re quite nice peeled and used in dishes whole as pearl onions. This doesn’t mean that I won’t be trying other onions and other methods of growing onions in my garden. There are a few varieties that have been recommended to me that I want to try (like ‘Copra’). I’m also going to try to overwinter some onions to see if that will work here. I’ve read it only works down to a zone 6, but with a good layer of mulch it can work in a zone 5 as well. Overwintered onions are supposed to grow bigger and mature faster in summer.

Do you ever grow different varieties of vegetables trying to find which ones do best in your garden? Have you found any that work particularly well for you?

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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.