Monday, April 15, 2013

Rambling: Onions. Trying again.

Two years ago, I planted a bed of Copra onion plants, but I got them in very, very late--just about at the summer solstice. I assumed that they would fail, so I didn't even bother to weed them until I noticed, lots of weeks later, that they were bulbing. I ended up with a half-decent crop--I would have liked larger onions, but there were so many that I gave some of the excess away for lack of fridge storage. (I know that onions don't need a fridge, but they do need a cool place, and Himself oddly objects to the air-conditioned living spaces smelling of onions.)

Last year, I once again didn't get the plants in until the solstice. But I was otherwise industrious and well-behaved, and kept the weeds hoed out of the onion bed. I ended up with a pitiful crop not even large enough to fill one crisper drawer. Say what? Since then, I've read that onions have wide, shallow roots, and that they don't like ground disturbance. Hoeing is certainly disturbing. Perhaps that's the explanation.

This year I got the onions in in April--that is, yesterday. Yay me! I dug three bags of composted manure and half a small bag of organic fertilizer into a nine-by-five bed, covered the bed with weed barrier, and planted the onions block style, three per square foot. One hundred and thirty-five onions. That's too many square inches per onion based on some sources, and too few based on others.

So this will be the first year that I have weed-free onions, and the first year that I plant them when they're supposed to be planted. I have hope for a dandy harvest. And I think I've solved the storage problem--I grow Copra for caramelized onions, and I've read that caramelized onions can be frozen. I'll test the freezing concept with ordinary grocery onions first, before committing precious Copras.

So it's a plan. Or at least it looks like one.


  1. I started some onions FROM SEED - what was I thinking? So I picked up some onion sets at the garden nursery where I now work - haven't planted them yet, though. Maybe today. Thanks for the helpful hint on not disturbing them.

    I want to go all Ruth Stout on my garden - it pretty much is Stout-y anyway.

  2. I hope to see pictures of your caramelized onions in a future blog post! By the way, I like your comment that "hoeing is disturbing." I guess that's the equivalent of vacuuming one floor up as someone below is trying to sleep!

  3. Yo, Carol! I was going to start mine from seed this year, and I forgot, so I sent off for plants. I always wonder, when I do that, whether the harvest is going to be worth significantly more than the plants cost. I choose to assume that it will.

    Hmm. I keep meaning to try some Stoutlike methods.

  4. Hey, Melody! Hmm, yes, I should photograph the transformation from dirty bulbs to caramllized onions.

    Hee. Yes, those onions definitely seemed to be under-rested and under-fed.