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Kitchen Garden

Onion Patch

Last bowl of 2020 onions from our garden.

I wrote a week’s worth of posts ahead of the holidays to avoid thinking about daily writing for a while. It’s time to get going again.

As the calendar turns to 2021, it’s also time to get serious about the garden. First up is onion seeds.

In September I wrote about the 2020 onion experience. Here’s what’s in the works for 2021.

Channel trays: I bought five channel trays and matching container trays. I got a bag of #13 soil mix, designed for use in channel trays, from the local land products company. I also ordered a special heating pad for germination. The upshot is to grow my own onion starts from seed. I’m better prepared for it this year than last.

Onion plants: Just in case, I am ordering the same varieties of onion plants as last year to be shipped in April from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. I hope to give up the live starts, but not until I’ve started my own onions successfully at home for a couple of seasons.

Greenhouse: I don’t know if I’m returning to the farm because of the persisting coronavirus pandemic. If I do, I may give some seeds to my friends to start as an additional layer of backup. That worked well with shallots last year.

Quantities: This winter I used onions sliced and frozen for cooking and the results were good. By planting more than last year I can freeze more, extending the locally grown onion season.

Shallots: Last year’s Matador shallots had a long shelf life so I’m planning on them again. I was surprised at how useful they are in the kitchen.

Onions: Ordered Rossa di Milano red onion and Calibra yellow onion seeds. I will also plant all of the seeds left from the last couple of years to see how they germinate: White Lisbon, Red Burgundy, Talon, Sweet Spanish Utah Strain, Walla Walla and Valencia. For onion plants, my online shopping cart has Patterson, Ailsa Craig, Redwing and Sierra Blanca in it. There may be some tweaking before I hit the order button in a few days.

We use onions almost every day. Last year was the first to produce more of my own. In 2021 I’ll dedicate more space to them and work toward producing a better crop. It would be great to produce enough storage onions to last until the end of March 2022.

In any case, gardening season has begun and that’s hopeful news as a winter storm bears down on Eastern Iowa.

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