Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why Plant Onion Sets? I Blame the Garlic!

I wasn't planning on planting onions. Why plant onions? They are cheap and plentiful at the grocery story. They aren't nearly as desirable as heirloom tomatoes. And they are nowhere as unusual as purple peas or white carrots.

But when I saw the red onion sets on the store shelf I knew I just had to give them a go. For one thing, onions are among the earliest veggies that can be planted out in the garden. They'll be the first to produce some greens too. Aside from fulfilling my need to get outside and start digging on the dirt, though, I blame my yen for onions on last year's garlic crop.

Here's this year's garlic poking through the dirt. This is garlic planted from bulbs I harvested last summer. I've got three rows on the go. I can't wait to harvest again in late July or August. I have a very vivid memory of laying the garlic out on sheets of newspaper to dry. Then, days later, I remember checking to see if the garlic had cured. The soil-covered outer skin crumble to dust in my fingers revealing this............

Is it too cheesy to describe garlic as "beautiful." I was quite pleased with the job I did trimming the foliage and tangle of roots before storing the garlic in mesh bags for use through the winter. I think I have about three cloves left. The flavour is outstanding. The whole process (planting, harvesting, curing, cooking) has been very satisfying. I increased my garlic crop last fall by about a third. Now, I wish I had planted a little more. The onion sets are a chance to mimic the garlic experience. And if everything goes according to plan, at this time next year, I'll still be cooking with home-grown goodness.

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