On “not enough”

P1000253Only one lousy 4×16 bed of onions.  Normally, we have two such beds.

So I might be waxing poetic about my garlic harvest, but it has been a dud year for onions.

Onions are very important.  Yes, they’re an inexpensive, readily available crop to buy, and those who are space-crunched in their vegetable gardens do very well sticking them in the “why bother” category.  But I am not space crunched, and I am a tightwad, therefore, I grow my own.  And this year has not been kind to my onions.

Granted, I have plenty of onion-y alternatives around here, so our food won’t be achingly bland.  But a combination of factors out of my control means it’s very much an Onions = Gold year.  No pickled red onions, no splurging with the caramelized yellow ones on the bean dishes and pizza…just the “usual” use of them.  And that is okay.

You know, when you do grow your own stuff, you have a different relationship with your food.  I won’t say it’s all gold, but it is all precious. If you’re the gardener as well as the cook, you remember pulling that onion you’re eating:  you may not remember planting the seed or transferring the seedling into the ground but you do remember watching it fill out, thinking, “that’s a fine looking bulb.”  I will say we have very little wasted food around here, somewhat by design but mostly by the fact that all produce is precious.  I cannot say this was the case when we bought all our food, and that astounds me:  we paid good money for that stuff!  Now, what little money we spend is offset by a different kind of investment:  the investment of time, of concern for our patch of earth.  And the victuals finally rendered onto our plates are very dear.

So yes, those few onions, they’re gold to me.

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18 responses to “On “not enough”

  1. El, what happened to your onions?

    • Ed, what didn’t happen? Mostly, they got flooded, then they rotted or they burned up. Crap year all around. But…I have leeks!

  2. I know what you mean. I grow them even though I’m tight on garden space. Since my soil is bad they don’t get very big, but I still save the delicious pearl onions for dishes when they’ll be the star of the show.

  3. grandmabecker

    This is the worse year for gardening, at least in SE Michigan. All the rain and cold. Now, it isn’t warm enough during the day and too darn cold at night.
    Last year at this time I was picking green beans.
    Everything is at a stand still.

  4. It’s been a challenging year, that’s for sure. I suffer from lack of good planning, more than lack of space. oh, and watering. Watering is a challenge. Sigh.

    Sorry about your onion lack. Here’s to a year full of blithely caramelized ones next year!

  5. I just absolutely love your blog. Love your photos, love your view on things. Thanks so much for sharing all of this! My garden is rather pitiful this year too, sad thing is I never even got the onions in! It was so wet this spring.

  6. I love it that you employ the word ‘victuals’…you really are terrific El!

  7. Very well said, my friend.

  8. yep, well said…

    i’m from the westcoast and this year has been a great year for onions.. but usually my onions are like yours are this year…. i don’t have a lot of space but there is something satisfying about having your ‘own’!!!

  9. my vegetable garden is mostly invisible this year, despite all of my drawings and winter dreaming. I don’t know how this happened, but I intend to delight in every ugly tomato.
    And I’ll put the drawings in a safe place for next year.

  10. El, so sorry to read about the onions – the weather has been a bear this year 😦 I know what you mean about the importance of onions. They did a lot to make the many potatoes of winter a bit more interesting. I wish I had space to grow my own, it makes everything taste different somehow. Ownership joy, maybe?

  11. Linda, thanks, as ever!

    Ed, I should say everything went fine *until* I stuck them outside in the ground. Harrumph.

    Mrs Chiot, yes indeed, pearl-y onions are quite lovely, even if they weren’t your goal! A lot of ours this year are heartbreakingly small. They really don’t like our soil either but it was the combo of everything else that made them pretty tiny, sigh. But you’re doing the right thing: let them shine, as they took a lot of effort to get to be as big as they are!

    Grandmabecker, sigh, don’t talk to me about beans. I had to replant the first batch, the cold wet weather made them rot. But now with no rain at all they seem to be doing just fine. Here’s hoping the rest of the year is okay…

    Stef, do you mulch? I confess I am a mulchaholic, even though I *like* watering: it keeps my soil from getting rock-hard and cracked. But thank you, I do hope next year is a good one for the onions. As it is I will be awash in leeks, not a bad thing…

    Jayme, this is a year that would make any gardener unhappy. Too bad about your onions!! But thanks; I am glad to hear you like my blabberings…

    Ah Randi, thanks. I likes me some victuals, especially the home-grown variety…

    Angie, I loved your post the other day about how good you have it! My favorite hour of the day is right after dinner, when we can take in the fun that is life on a critter-filled farm.

    Linda, isn’t it true? Something so humble, like an onion or a potato: they make you gloat, even if you’re not the type to gloat!

    Oh Pamela you get a pass as it’s been such a wackily weird weather year. But plans and gardening in the future tense are of course the most successful. Personally, I delight in any tomato, ugly or no…

    MC, yeah, ownership joy! You know we were taught not to be prideful but goodness sometimes it is hard with all the good green stuff that fills our plates. Maybe one day you too can have onion fields!

  12. Well, it is warm finally. I planted more green beans today.

    My rows are 130 ft long. My 4 that I planted in the spring look awful. The weather has been awful.

    I am ready to give up this year..

    But I keep on going, home grown food is the best and loved in the middle of the winter.

    My onions are doing well, go figure…

  13. I was so happy with how my onions were coming along, until the black birds showed up. They trample the greens! I went out this morning to find at least 50% of the tops hacked off…is there any use leaving them in the ground, or are they toast?

  14. I have never grown onions before this year, and I didn’t plant enough. Also, I planted at the wrong time (last October) in an experiment to winter them over. I only got about 10 onions, and they are all small.

    I ‘helped’ my grandparents grow onions when I was a child, but never on my own before now. There is a steep learning curve, and I am tucking all the new feathers in my cap as I go.

  15. GMB: for us, it’s August that I fear the most! We usually get a huge soaking storm and all my corn falls and all my root crops rot in the ground because of our clay. See, I am so glad you didn’t give up. The winter here is much too long to go without home-grown goodness!

    Lindsay, are they hacked off, or are they just flopped over? In the normal course of life the onions begin to be ready to be pulled and cured when the greens flop! So check them to see if that’s what they’re doing. And if they’re just eaten off, don’t worry about them; they’ll still start curing. Otherwise in a week or two or three, you need to knock all the rest of the greens over, as close as possible to the plant, to begin the harvesting process. Let them stay in the ground that way for a few days, then pull them out and dry them either by tying them up and hanging them somewhere dry or putting them on some screens. Once the greens are completely dead, cut them and the roots off then store them in onion bags or a box in a cool yet not overly damp place. Hope that helps…

    Sinclair, yeah, there’s a trick to planting them so they bulb up best when there’s the most hours in the day. But they can be fussy otherwise so even if you follow the best path sometimes they’re just plain small. I tend to plant them all different times too just to ensure I have some for winter salads, etc. But yeah, I just was bummed because these were my big storage onions that got hit: their numbers aren’t as good as before which means I have to economize… I do like the idea of feathers in your cap, though!!!

  16. I planted our onions in a narrow strip between the garage and a fence. I planted many, quite tightly, without giving a thought to weeding. Now that I’m 7 months pregnant, I cannot fit in there comfortably to weed them! The last time we tried weeding there, I was so sore from all the balancing on one foot, squatting, etc.
    The onions are just gonna have to deal with the weeds and let nature take care of them. I’ll see what I have come September, if anything!

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