Sometimes not everything works out and this year onions certainly didn’t. There was way too much rain in the beginning and middle of gardening season even raised beds couldn’t help. On the west side of the garden there are underground springs (we eventually figured out ) so that was where the first hi-rise raised beds were installed eight years ago. But this year even those beds became waterlogged. Consequently some of the early rings in the onions developed a brittle paper-like membrane – their way of coping. Unfortunately this type of inner ring can easily rot while in storage.
The rest of summer had negligible rain but it was too late for the onions. All of the excessive rain had left its mark. Look at how brown the grass was in the above photo because of the lack of rain we’ve had since August.
Usually I check the stem or the top of onion which has a tendency to feel soft if I suspect there might be a problem. Another issue was the grow rate, they stopped growing so I have a number of very small onions this year. On the bright side just the perfect amount for a salad, eggs or sautéed veggie portions for one or two people.
So what do you do to preserve a harvest in a year like this? I cut them open and remove the inner ring that formed the brittle membrane. It’s usually the larger onions that have the problems but not always . After I remove the membrane I coarsely chop and freeze into small bag portions. This is a little extra work but at least the harvest is preserved and well worth the effort. Used in soups, the crock pot, oven or on the stove, the onions taste fine. In fact their taste hasn’t been affected at all .
I buy onion starts from Dixondale Farms and because I live in the northern part of the United States I purchase long-day onions.
What this means are the onions require 14 to 16 hours of sunlight per day to start bulbing or mature. Short-day onions require less sunlight hours – 10 to 12 hours a day in the southern states before they start the bulbing process. Short-day onions can be grown in the north but they won’t grow very large. There is also an intermediate growing zone and they are described in more detail at the following website dixondale farms just click on the green link.
Red Wing onions taste exceptionally good, store for about 8 to 10 months and last year some of mine made it a full year. These onions normally are about 4 inches in size and have done well for me.
I will admit that I prefer red onions for cooking and raw in salads but another storage onion that has done well for me in past years was Copra. I’ve also grown some Cippiloni onions from seeds but you need to start them under lights in January or early February. Onions are one of my favorite harvests from the garden. Hope you enjoyed the onion journey.
A garden tip – If you’ve ever left some tools outside and found them a year later horribly rusted as I did recently with some pruners, soak them in a solution of half vinegar and half water for 30 minutes to an hour. You’d be surprised how well they clean up. Finish with a light oil coating.
Until next time.