I don’t eat onions. I don’t like them. Cooked or raw, they are not my thing. No one in the house likes onions either. Although I may not like onions, I need them. I can’t do without their pungent taste to flavour my pork chops and stew.
So I guess I do eat onions but only when they’re finely chopped and consumed in stew juice. When I use them to flavour pork, I discard them afterwards because I just can’t bring myself to eat them. I’ve tried and I’ve failed.
While I don’t like onions, I love to grow them, and I grow them well. I’ve proven so in the past by growing a year’s supply with very little effort. The key to onion growing is to plant in well-drained soil that gets lots of sun. That’s it.
Anyone can grow onions. You don’t have a lot of room. See that space between the marigolds in the front garden bed? Stick an onion bulb there and watch it grow. In about three months, you can dig it up and throw it in your stew.
But it has to be planted in well-drained soil. If it’s not, it’ll rot before it’s ready to eat. Since our garden area gets saturated every time it rains, I built raised beds this summer using 2 x 6 lumber.
The wonderful thing about onions is you can start planting early, say the first of May, and stagger the plantings a week apart, so when harvest time rolls around, you can dig them up in one-week intervals.
Onions are a root crop which means in well-drained soil, you can harvest the crop well into fall unless the temperatures quickly turn frigid. In Nova Scotia, in many cases that means you can harvest onions right up to the middle of November. This prolongs the freshness of the vegetable.
There are several varieties of onions to choose from and they are sold in seed form and mini bulb form. I choose the mini bulbs because although they cost a wee bit more, the bulbs are easier to plant and mature quicker. Someday I may try seeds, but that won’t be until I build a greenhouse where I can start them earlier.
On average, 100 mini bulbs cost about $4.00. This translates into a year’s supply of onions for the price of about 20 onions at the grocery store. Growing them myself means they’re fresher and pesticide free.
Planting onions take very little effort. The biggest task is preparing the garden soil (which will be covered in another blog). Each mini bulb is planted about two inches deep. That depth provides support to the stem so the wind won’t topple it. It also allows the onion to grow large without breaking through the soil.
Harvesting is a snap. Many times the onion will pull right out of the ground. When I feel resistance, I drive the blade of a small hoe beneath the bulb and force it up. A hundred onions can be harvested in less than a half hour.
I store my onions over winter by hanging them in mesh bags from the ceiling in the darkest corner of the basement. They don’t freeze down there, but the temperature is cool.
Even though I don’t like onions, they are one of my favourite vegetables to grow.