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.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More Crocus

The crocus have a heavy burden to carry this spring. I'm relying on them exclusively to brighten what feels like the longest March in history.

Predictably, the crocus are more than up to the job. Only one more stinking day in this interminable month. I'm looking forward to April showers and warm temperatures. Let the gardening begin!

Although it seems far too early, I got a jump start on my raised bed vegetable gardens. I planted two types of spinach, swiss chard, radishes, bok choy and three types of lettuce. The raised beds are right next to a massive cinder block wall that catches the heat of the sun all day. I'm taking my chances that the micro-climate this creates will let me start harvesting a few weeks earlier than I usually do. If it doesn't work, I'll start again in a few weeks.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Slow March Toward Spring

I don't recall it ever being this cold, this late in March. Walking home from work the other night I was certain it was mid- February, with its howling winds and -10C temperatures. Thankfully, spring will prevail. The crocus have arrived. They are about four days later than last year but they are here!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Check Out This New Garden Blog

Attention Toronto and GTA gardeners. There's a new way to get good garden advice and find out about upcoming garden events. Check out the North Toronto Horticultural Society blog. The blog is really quite new but expect lots of good information to be posted there. North Toronto members are committed to excellence in horticulture and floral design, all the while having fun in exploring the wonderful world of gardening.