East Sac Edible


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Saving Seed: Onion

About a month ago I pulled up my onions some of which went to seed. Below is an onion flower head in May…
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and this is what the same flower head looks like today. DSC_2514

I left the flower head on the patio table to dry out and honestly forgot about it. The other day I walked by and noticed lots of little onion seeds scattered on the ground letting me know I needed to take care of this. To collect the onion seed I brought the flower head inside and put it in a brown paper bag…
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I shook the bag vigorously and was left with this: DSC_2519

The seeds easily popped out and I have collected another season’s worth of onion seed. I still need to collect a few more flower heads and do the same collecting process so I get some diversity of seed.DSC_2520

I also cleaned up some of the onions that had dried up to put away for storage. I think a few of them are not going to store so well so I am going to have to use them up sooner rather than later. I was very pleased with this set of onions so I am glad I have some of the seed saved. These onions did really well in poor soil and with irregular watering!DSC_2521

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Harvesting Onions

DSC_1751 DSC_1752 DSC_1270Way back on September 17, 2013 I planted a row of onions along the curved path in my front yard behind the salvias. Now that I think about it, that was about 9 months ago! I put these onions in as an experiment to see how well my recently de-lawned soil would handle a crop. I barely worked the soil. In fact, I just dug a small hole right were I was going to plant which was difficult to do since the soil was quite hard. I think I threw in a little compost into the hole but other than that I let them be. I barely watered them either.

The reason why I decided to plant a row straight into my landscaping was because in 2013 I planted onions in one of my garden beds. They did pretty well but I planted them so packed together that I ended up with really small onions or where two onions meshed together into one plant. The two onion heads were particularly hard to store and many times when I went to cut into it, the onion had mold in-between the two-headedness space. Onions take a really long time so I decided to move them to the outskirts of my landscaping where I wouldn’t bother them. And my results were pretty good. I had many that are just huge (soft-ball sized onions) and others that are a little smaller.

Well the last couple of weeks I have noticed a lot of those onions go to flower and a few days ago I noticed a few of the stems had finally flopped over, a sign that they are ready to be harvested. I harvested the flowering onions separately from the flopped over, non-flowering onions because flowering onions will not keep so I need to be sure to use them first.

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In 2013 my total harvest for onions was 9.31 pounds. I am letting this harvest dry out on my patio and I even have a few left in the ground that were not ready to be picked. I will weigh them after they are cleaned up, tops chopped off and ready for storage. Here is a picture of my small 2013 onion harvest.

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Onions are light feeders. This means that they can get by with less fertile soil. If you have soil that you are gradually improving you can put onions in areas of your garden that is not your richest soil and still have a good yield. That is why I think onions are a great crop for first time gardeners.

Even if you have a small space or you are not sure how much work you want to put into your garden, planting onions gives you a whole lot of output for very little effort. You basically can just plant them and forget them. Plus onions are a huge benefit to your garden. Since they have such a strong scent they tend to deter a lot of insects. This means I don’t have to worry about my onions for pests plus they discourage insects on other plants as well. I haven’t had much luck starting my onions from seed so I usually get mine in seedlings but I have also grown them from bulb sets as well.

Plus did I mention they are delicious? There is a reason why most recipes start with sautéing onions as a first step. I love slowly sautéing them in olive oil and making caramelized onions to top my homemade pizzas. Yum!