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  • Writer's pictureShicole

Sweet Onions

A main staple in our kitchen are onions; we use them in many dishes. Of course, we had to grow them in our garden. Onions are biennial plants. They grow a bulb the first year they are planted, but if not harvested, it will return the next year. You can grow onions in your garden by using onion seeds, sets or onion plants. We have always used onion sets which are onions grown from seeds that have produced a small bulb and is in a dormant state before you plant it. Once in the ground, the bulb comes out of dormancy and continues to grow in size until it is ready to be harvested.

In the past, we have grown both mild and pungent onions also referred to as sweet and storage onions. This year we planted mild/sweet onions. My father is growing pungent/storage onions in his garden this year so I will have both to use in our kitchen.

Our boys helped us plant the onions and they have been anxious to pick them. Once the leaves on the onions started growing, our boys insisted they were ready to be pulled. One day when they saw the onion bulbs starting to emerge from the ground, their story changed.

"Mommy, we can't pick them yet. The onions are too small."

A few days ago one of my sons rushed into the sunroom in a panic. He insisted that I follow him to the garden.

"Mommy, the onions are going to die."

"Why do you think that?" I replied.

"The leaves are following over."

He was also concerned that an animal would eat the onions since some of them were more than half way out of the ground. To his surprise, I informed him that the necks of the onions falling over means it is harvest time.

Mild/sweet onions have thin papery skins and should be used within a few weeks of harvest. Pungent/storage onions can be stored for almost a year. It is important to cure your onions if you are not using them immediately. When my boys and I picked our onions, we gently shook of the dirt and placed them on a table to dry. Our mild/sweet onions will finishing curing in 1-2 days. You know they are ready once the necks have tighten and there is no moisture. Pungent onions take a couple of weeks to cure. Once you have finished curing your onions store then in a cool dry place. Normally, when we harvest and cure mild/sweet onions I use a couple in the dish I prepare that evening and then I slice or dice them and freeze them. Onions are such a kitchen staple so the possibilities are endless.

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