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

Ten months of onions

Cutting onions

We ran of our storage onions this year in May --- better than most years, but still leaving me with a two-month drought.  With most vegetables, I simply substitute or do without if our crop isn't sufficient, but I can't quite imagine cooking without onions.  So we ended up buying a few bags at the store (plus planting 20% more to feed us over the next year).

Cleaned onions

We learned the hard way that garlic just doesn't taste quite right until it's been cured, but onions are ready to go in the soup pot as soon as they reach full size.  I haven't even harvested most of our onions out of the garden yet, but I've been pulling the biggest ones for soup for the last week or two.  It seems like we can never freeze enough soup or grow enough onions --- maybe those two problems are related....

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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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What percentage of your total onion harvest would you say is perennial (Egyptian walking or other)? My annual onion growing skills are abysmal, and I'm wondering if it would be feasible to cook with only perennial onions.
Comment by Jessie Wed Jul 30 08:38:42 2014
I'm going to try overwintering short-day onions this year. This past year may have been too cold, but normally I would think a quick hoop would be sufficient. I'm staring the seeds now to transplant into the garden by late September. The timing might need tweaking (too early and they will bolt in the spring instead of produce bulbs), but the idea would be that by the first of May you should start having fresh onions with proper bulb size and fully mature to pull for all of June.
Comment by Charity Wed Jul 30 09:43:43 2014
how many onions do you plant?
Comment by Nihal Wed Jul 30 09:55:01 2014

Jessie --- We don't use our Egyptian onions for the same purpose as our storage onions. Generally, we just use the Egyptian onions for green tops, although we do harvest a few bottoms in the winter to use like leeks. They have a slightly different flavor (and take a lot more processing per unit volume), so I don't think it's worth trying to make Egyptian onions your main bulbing onion.

Potato onions have more potential in that department, and last year they provided perhaps 5% of our onion bulbs. However, last winter 80% of our potato onions perished in our unusually cold winter, suggesting that that harvest can't be relied on and meaning that we're saving all the ones that survived to plant this fall. So onions from seed are still our main source of onion bulbs.

Charity --- I'll be curious to hear how your experiment pans out!

Nihal --- I have no clue about the number since we keep notes only on area devoted to each crop. We planted 9 beds this year, which equates to about 160 square feet of onions.

Comment by anna Wed Jul 30 13:37:17 2014

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