Bloomin’ Onions!


Decided to take some time off from bashing sexism over at Babe, er, South Dakota Watch in order to get some garden work accomplished.

So I went hoeing. And weeding. And I re-seeded the Moon & Stars watermelons that didn’t come up with a big container of seed H had saved.  He’s always saving melon seed from whatever I grow or whatever volunteers, which is good because I sometimes have  grumpy, “grasshopper crop” attitude toward melons.

Grasshopper crop is my code for a crop that isn’t something that can really be stored in any way.  I guess I could make watermelon pickles with the rinds, but I’m always tempted to simply plant more winter squash–an “ant crop” that stores through the winter months.  But the Moon & Stars are a lovely heirloom melon, so I gave it another go.

Moon and StarsI also weeded around the summer squash that’s on the hill behind the old house, thinned the chard, and weeded the overwintered red onions (more on that in a moment).  I’ve noticed how the pretty colored-stem chards seem to be fairly sensitive in the garden, but I’ve always planted them because, well, they’re pretty.

Then, when I was at the MOSES organic conference in LaCrosse this spring, I got a packet of Fordhook Giant from High Mowing Seeds. It’s an heirloom chard originally developed/selected by W. Atlee Burpee Co. and named after the site of their original farm.

The difference in vigorousness between the dainty, pretty chards and the Fordhook heirloom is amazing.  So much for hybrid vigor–Fordhook rocks my chard-lovin’ world. It’s already bigger than the yellow chard seeded over a month before.

But back to the overwintered red onions:

bloomin onion 1bloomin onion 2bloomin onion 3Crazy, huh?  These are the onions that seem to be perennializing in my garden–Red Long of Tropea.  Last year the overwintered red longs did this same thing, so I popped off the top-setting bulbs and stuck them in the ground. This spring I moved them all to this one bed, and now they’re doing it again, so again, I’m popping off their bulbs and planting the little ones that form.

It’s nice that they’re heading up like this too, because out of a couple fully double-seeded 6-pack flats, I got only about 35-40 plants to germinate (old seed).  Those are in the garden now, too, so with the young ones, the re-seeding ones, and the top-sets, I should have over a hundred–maybe close to one hundred fifty of these buggers.

While I haven’t read Steve Solomon’s Gardening When It Counts yet (it’s on my to-read list), I’d imagine this is the kind of thing he advocates (certainly it’s a thing I advocate)–trying to grow perennializing/re-seeding crops, so that you’re not constantly depending on buying seed from other places.

As I mentioned in my post on garden volunteers, I tend to welcome many of those plants as a way to avoid having to constantly re-seed, buy seed, and with some crops, even collect seed. I certainly don’t have to worry about not having any dill–the thing I have to worry about is getting it where I want it. Same with cilantro.

Some things just aren’t good transplant material, but they come up in so many places in my garden, one of the places they come up is bound to be a good place for them to live (and to re-seed again).

Speaking of, I filled in the three open spots in my landscape fabric’d row of paste tomatoes today by digging volunteers out of another onion patch–the yellow Talon onions.

When I was digging out the tomatoes to transplant, I noticed one or two of the volunteers already starting to form flowers. Those will get to stay right where they are–I don’t think the onions will suffer from having a little “love apple” company.

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