Summer: Harvesting the Onions

By gum, we think we've done it. We think we've got it. Back in 2014 we lamented how since we left our allotment we had never been able to grow a decent onion. We'd grown onions that were fit for pickling, we'd grown onions that even chives would have out gunned, we'd even grown an onion that thought it was a leek. We'd tried them from sets, we'd tried them from seed. We'd grown them outdoors and undercover. Uphill, downhill, onions sulked. Then last year, Carol said, 'Have you ever tried growing winter onions?' There are few words that Andrew wanted to say to her at that point, however those were terse, Saxon and four lettered. He knew better than to do that and got out the seed catalogues. It was decided, during a meeting of war, in which Andrew apologised for using some four letter words and Carol promised that he could have pudding that night, that winter onions would be the last onions in the garden. We had declared war on onions and if they didn't co-operate this time then there would be no choice but to send them packing from our crop plan.

Growing winter onions.

We selected the most robust winter onions we could find, Radar (D.T. Brown). We planted ours in late September in the cottage garden, in a patch recently cleared of annuals. We covered them with fleece and they sat their through autumn and winter. Andrew reported on them at weekly intervals: sulking, wet and sulking, cold and sulking, some green but still sulking, and then spring hit and with it some warmth. The onions sprung into life and the reports that came in where more along the line of a seventies sex romp: they're swelling, you should see the size of them, a couldn't get my fist round one of them and every innuendo inbetween. In fact we became a household of onion lust and last week, because we needed the space for pumpkins, we looked on our small winter onion trial and said, 'Harvest the buggers before they rot' and we did (it's been a wet hillside over the last few months; that is not an double entendre). We allowed the onions to dry but forgot that we had to bend over the stalks before harvesting, to dry the tops - we're out of practice when it comes to onions. It's been over eight years since we had an allotment, back then we could have plaited and stringed our onions with our eyes closed. However, in the interim we'd forgotten how to do it, through a mixture of lack of use and probably a subconscious anger at every onion that has passed through this plot to go on to a better place. It took us an hour of watching You Tube films - and none of those buggers agree on how to do it - before we just tied them to a three foot length of string and left them suspended from some stepladders in the kitchen. If they taste good we have won most of the battle, if they taste bad then there will be more four letter words and no pudding for Andrew.


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