The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Partial onion harvest

Weighing onions

Split onionI usually wait to harvest my storage onions until the tops have died back on all of the bulbs, but this year it seemed more prudent to take in half early, then plan on a second harvest to round up the stragglers who are still green.

Wet weather just before harvest is bad for root crops, and the forecast says we're in for another week of rain.  Already, a few of the onions had started to rot and several others had split their outer layers, which means they won't keep quite as long.

I can't complain, though, since we've now got 46 pounds of onions on our curing racks, with at least that many yet to come out of the ground.

Curing onions

My extended onion harvest means the racks will be full for the rest of July and probably part of August, then I'll press them into service again in late September for sweet potatoes, followed closely by winter squash.  After the porch and straw door, I think our vegetable curing tower may be the infrastructure improvement that has seen the most use this year.

Our chicken waterer is the POOP-free alternative for spoiled backyard hens.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I've gone back through the posts to see if you posted a total square footage, but don't see a mention (I might have missed it.) With the 6 racks, how many square feet of drying space do you have? How many pounds of garlic were you able to fit on them and did all 46 pounds of onions fit?

I'm thinking of investing in starter garlic this year. I will definitely try to buy 'local' stock for adaptation and replant the largest cloves from the largest heads in subsequent years. There are so many varieties out there and it is so hard to choose up front (but would like to make a 'one time' investment, if possible.) I'm wondering how many varieties I should start with. I'm new to garlic production so realize I will learn along the way. I was thinking of 2 lbs of starter stock with 1/4 each of 8 varieties (mixed hardneck and softneck.) There are options that would also include artichoke and elephant varieties. Would love to hear from you on starting with so many varieties and other commenters who have favorites or experiences related to flavor, storage, or productivity (would be produced in the Pacific Northwest Coastal zone.)

Finally, do you weight before and after curing? Do you have a sense of how much weight loss you have during curing?

How do your multiplier onions look this year? I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the newer variety from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Comment by Charity Tue Jul 17 09:45:43 2012

Charity --- We have six racks, each of which is a little less than 4 square feet in area, so we have 24 square feet of rack total. We only used half that area for the 46 pounds of onions because I knew I'd have a similar amount coming in. That was a bit tight, but should work fine.

We had 30 pounds of garlic (once dried) this year. I could have used more space, but all six racks got the garlic good and dry.

I'll let others chime in about your local garlic selection. We tried several varieties at first, and none were duds. On the other hand, some did produce better than others. How many varieties you want to try should be influenced by how well you keep track of complicated arrangements, otherwise they'll all run together either in storage or in the garden.

We usually only weigh after curing, but I weighed the onions before this time. The reason I did is because I'm trying out two different varieties and wanted to make sure I got at least some data on how each did before they potentially got mixed together. (I'll post about the varieties later once the data's all in.)

You must have missed our followup potato onion post.

Comment by anna Tue Jul 17 16:06:55 2012

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