Don’t onion seedlings make you think of tiny little alien tentacles or periscopes rising up from the soil?
p.s. If you sow too much, the sprouts are edible, too.Leave a comment
I am still working on getting warm season transplants into the community garden plot. I’m still working on same on the roof for that matter. I was a little gun shy this spring, following on the heels of last year’s June 5 Curcubit killing cold snap. While that didn’t happen this year, I was relieved to have played it safe when a reader wrote in reporting a snowfall on June 11 in their part of North America. June 11! The horrors!
Regardless of timing, one thing is for sure: the onion harvest is out of control! I’ve always been fortunate when it comes to onions but I’ve hit some kind of personal record this year and it is only June. I foresee a lot of onions in our future, especially given that I planted more onion sets a while back, and have a whole tray of onion seedlings sitting out on the roof waiting to be planted.
If you look at early spring shots of my community garden it looks like I am growing an onion and garlic garden more than anything. I mentioned that I would be pulling many of them up, replacing them with new warm season transplants as planting got underway. Well…. earlier this week on one such occasion I brought back an entire box of onions. And I brought another box back last night. I know I’m writing this like it is some kind of blight but I am an actually embarrassingly proud. Last night I walked my bike back from the community garden, careful to avoid spilling my bounty all over the street and proud as a peacock secretly hoping someone would exclaim, “Wow look at all those onions!” To which I would proudly reply, “Yep. Grew them myself. And this is only the half of them!” And then I would hand them a bunch. Because I’m onion wealthy and I like to spread the love. This all played out in my head like a King of Kensington-style fantasy sequence. Except in my version I’m the Onion Queen of Parkdale. In real life I walked silently with nary a sideways glance from passing neighbours and arrived home to an empty building. It was another 30 minutes before my neighbour knocked on the door for coffee and I could finally turn to the giant box waiting in the hall and shout, “Dude, check out my onions!”
And I’m not done yet. Nope, there are currently craploads of full-sized bunching onions left in spaces that I will be replacing with some of the straggling transplants this weekend. We are about to experience an onion gold rush over here! And if bunching onions were worth their weight in gold we’d be selling out and moving to a cliff side house with an ocean view. Except in reality that box of onions might fetch a couple of dollars at best and we’re really just standing around starring at it and wondering what to do with such an enormous bounty. I’ve already roasted a a few and have considered pickling a few more. One reader suggested Korean Scallion Pancakes. That sounds delicious and we will definitely be trying those this weekend.
Since you all had such wonderful, creative ideas for using rhubarb I have to ask, What do you do with your onion bonanza? I’m especially asking about the bunching onions because they have a lot of greens and I’d like to use those if I can rather than just tossing them into the compost.Leave a comment
This was going to be a much better post wherein I was going to tell you all about the goings-on in my little community garden plot, however I started writing it ten days ago and then…. well… clearly that ball was dropped. But I didn’t want to leave it, stuck forever in the drafts folder with 20 other half-written posts that are so far past their due date that they will never see the light of day. Obviously much has changed in ten days but regardless, here’s what was happening just over a week ago.
Parkdale Community Beer Garden (facing north). My plot is the one to the forward right of the frame. The big leafy thing in front is my ever-expanding patch of white valerian (Valeriana officinalis). This is a gorgeous plant that grows to be taller than me producing massive sprays of fragrant white flowers. Some cats like valerian and go crazy for it like catnip. Mine does not so the only personal use I get from it are the flowers that I snip to put in vases on occasion. But the real reason I keep valerian in the garden is because the plant is known to be an immune system boost to the plants that live around it and it makes a good addition to the compost heap. It also attracts a lot of beneficial insects becoming a little microcosm onto itself by mid-summer.
My plot (facing west). I keep an assortment of perennial herbs in that corner leaning towards a mix of bright green and chartreuse plants. I added some black pansies to the mix this year which made a nice colour combination.
Most of plot (view facing north)
Harvested that day. Lots of herbs, onions, and garlic mustard roots (later made into horseradish).
The mint corner. They’re coming up strong including last year’s over-priced purchase, Mojito mint. This is one of the mints I intend to propagate this year. They say growing an assortment of mints together is a bad idea as it can dilute the quality of each variety over time. But I’ve only got so much space and there are too many interesting mint varieties to grow so what can one do except break some rules.
Pansies amongst the onions. I’ve got violas and pansies all over the place as spots of colour until the self-seeding calendula, borage and other edible flowers mature.
The sage corner. I’ve got 4 different varieties living here. I think we’re pretty much set for sage into the next millennium. Since I took this picture the plants have EXPLODED with buds forming that will soon bring that corner alive with colour. Thankfully there are lots of interesting things to be done with sage and it dries very well. Here’s a yummy sage and walnut pesto recipe. I’m also growing white sage on the roof.
The onion sets I planted 2 weeks prior are already growing. How’s that for fast service?Leave a comment
We popped over for a quick mini-visit to the community garden yesterday afternoon. I wanted to bring some kitchen scraps to add to the compost bin on our way to have lunch and run errands. We left the container at the garden with a mind to return to pick it up on our way back home and do more garden inspection.
It’s only been a few weeks since my first trip of the season to the garden and already so much has grown. Before going on I should state for the record that the reason growth is so quick in my garden is because I never, ever leave it empty. I grow a lot of edible perennials like herbs, flowers, garlic, fruit, and onions that take up residence in the plot year-round, holding down the soil and preventing erosion. It also means that even in a cold climate like Toronto we manage to get very early and very late season crops.
But I digress. Just look at the growth in just nine days! Some of the peas I planted around the trellis have emerged at least a few inches above the soil line. The gooseberry bush I planted early last fall has full leaves and lots of teeny tiny flower buds. We’re going to have a pretty reasonable first gooseberry harvest this summer!
And speaking of harvests, I made my first real harvest of the season yesterday. I took home clippings from a variety of perennial herbs (garlic chives, marjoram, oregano, sage, and thyme) in addition to handfuls of onions. Looking at a photo of the full community plot (actually the sage section is cut off) you can see that there are an awful lot of onions (some are garlic too). They are always one of the first edibles to come up in the spring and one of the last harvested in the late fall. Most of the onions are ‘Egyptian Walking’ onions (aka “Egyptian Clumping’ onions) a type that come up very early and reproduce by developing a topset of bulbs later in the season. Their name is derived from their unique growth habit; the heavy topsets literally fall over and take root in the soil, giving the impression that the onions are creeping about and reproducing themselves throughout the garden. I like to control their placement slightly by collecting the topsets in the summer, tossing them into bare spots as I harvest mature plants throughout the season. They are a particularly rich-flavored onion, reminiscent of garlic. You can eat the topsets as well as replant them, their taste even more like garlic than the mature bulbs.
We get a continuous harvest of onions throughout the growing season through this perpetual reproduction but, I’ve been itching to grow some varieties that produce larger bulbs. I bought seeds for a variety called ‘Red Torpedo’ for this purpose but was seduced by the possibility of an even earlier harvest when I came upon a bin of red onion sets for sale later yesterday afternoon. This is why I can’t make solid garden plans — I am too easily swayed to make impulsive decisions! You should see the purple fingerling potatoes I impulse-bought for planting from the local organic produce store only a few minutes prior to my run-in with the onion sets.
And so I bought a handful of red onion sets of unknown origin, which I took back and planted at the community garden. I had no plan for their placement so I basically pulled out a few bunches of mature ‘Egyptian Walking’ onions and replaced them with the new sets. They say the rough and tough cultivation of onion sets make them more prone to disease and a little risky to grow, but I figure the ‘Egyptian Walking’ onions can handle it and I kept them a bit of a distance away from the others to be safe.
I left the garden with my bundle of onions in hand and an overwhelming sense of pride knowing I will be supplementing our meals with them over the coming week. It was quite a shock to realize that this sense of pride doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t diminish with time. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been growing food for quite some time now, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d think it would become a commonplace part of my life but instead every new harvest, especially the first one of the year, is filled with that original sense of amazement and awe. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m so glad the growing season is back in full swing!Leave a comment
I just returned from my community garden plot where I harvested a ton of onions, garlic, and borage. They were all overflowing in the plot and some needed to be sacrificed for the good of the garden and future harvests. The garlic had already formed a few cloves each. I left plenty more that will stay put until the fall when they are fully formed. I’m figuring on some sort of soup for the borage. Something that would benefit from a cucumbery flavor. The flowers are good in fizzy beverages. The onions will become tonight’s meal, French Onion Soup.
I also harvested my first cucumber (‘Parisian Pickling’), radish flowers, swiss chard and lots of herbs including basil (2 kinds), ‘Golden’ oregano, variegated marjoram, and garlic chives.
The valerian plants were COVERED in lady bug larvae! So exciting! Sorry no photos. I took my film camera with me.
Not a day has gone by over the last month where our meals haven’t been prepared with some percentage of harvest from the gardens. As the summer heats up that percentage is growing. Filling the fridge (and our bellies) with my own harvest is very satisfying. It just never grows old. And neither does bragging and gloating about it.Leave a comment