Know your onions

Well, I’m not sure that I do know my onions but at least I have an abundance of them. πŸ™‚

Yesterday started off with insomnia, nightmares and then a stinking migraine. Not even remotely close to a good start to the day and so I stopped being anti pharmaceuticals and started shoving down the highest recommended dose of painkillers I could find. With a wonderful husband who was able to take over parenting I was free to curl up in a ball and hope to die.

Funnily enough I didn’t die and the said pharmaceuticals finally finished off the migraine after 7 or so hours and then I was left with an afternoon that I could actually enjoy. πŸ™‚ What to do that wouldn’t involve the return of the migraine?

Well, I have plans for an old set of plastic drawers I have that are in disrepair and of no use any more. They’ve now been painted with black paint mixed with PVA glue (helps it stick) and they’re drying on the fire. The plans for them? You’ll see. πŸ˜‰

After that I decided to brave the sunshine outside. Wrap around sunglasses and hat on it wasn’t so bad and the pain in my head was able to tolerate the bright light. It really was too beautiful to be cooped up inside. πŸ™‚ I pottered around the greenhouse for a bit, achieving little but enjoying the time in there none the less. I then headed up to the storage shed to finish off a job started around Christmas. I’d harvested my potato onions and the last of my garlic in that week around Christmas and New Years and hung them in the shed to dry out or cure. They were still there and it was time to sort them, braid them and generally tidy up.

I started with the garlic as I already had 6 braids inside from the first half of the harvest.

The remaining garlic

The remaining garlic.

A garlic.

A garlic.

Run hand down the them firmly but not too firmly to strip off the loose ones and tidy up the stem somewhat for braiding.

Run hand down the them firmly but not too firmly to strip off the loose ones and tidy up the stem somewhat for braiding.

Chop off the roots.

Chop off the roots.

Repeat these steps until you have a sufficient pile of cleaned up garlic to braid up. It’s not worth trying to clean them up as you’re braiding. For those that don’t know how to braid, here’s some instructions.

Take 3 cleaned up garlic and start by taking 1 stem and crossing it over into the middle of the other 2 stems.

Take 3 cleaned up garlic and start by taking the right hand stem and crossing it over into the middle of the other 2 stems.

Cross over hte stem of the garlic on the other side so it is in the middle of the other 2 stems.

Cross over the left garlic stem into the middle of the other 2 stems.

Take the stem on the right and cross it into the middle then place another garlic so its stem is with the other.

Take the stem on the right and cross it into the middle then place another garlic so its stem is with the other.

Cross the left stem into the middle of the other 2 and add another garlic into the braid.

Cross the left stem into the middle of the other 2 and add another garlic into the braid.

Keep repeating, folding in each side and adding in a new garlic each time.

Keep repeating, folding in each side and adding in a new garlic each time.

Continue to fold in each bunch of stems without adding any new garlic for a little bit then tie off with an elastic or string and then trim the stems to desired length.

Continue to fold in each bunch of stems without adding any new garlic for a little bit then tie off with an elastic or string and then trim the stems to desired length.

A garlic braid! Repeat until you run out of garlic!

A garlic braid! Repeat until you run out of garlic!

Including all the garlic without stems (I was a little overzealous the stems were a little weak on some) and the selection of the biggest and best from the garden for this years planting, I have 12 braids. Given my earlier fears of losing my entire crop I am, to say the very least, over the moon! πŸ™‚ No other plants were affected by the maggots and although I have a lot of very small garlic, I also have lots of big ones. I had planted about a dozen different varieties but I didn’t mark the separate varieties well in the garden beds themselves so in the end I just harvested it all together. The 1 truth remains though, whether I had names for them or not I would not be planting the small cloves again. I’ve saved the biggest and the best, much to the chagrin of my husband who loves his garlic and they will be planted out this Autumn. I’ll buy in 1 variety, a large garlic, but that’s it. πŸ™‚

These are just my white potato onions.

These are just my white potato onions.

Potato onions have also been a huge success. As a beginner gardener I’ve met with mixed success in my first growing season with onions. I think the combination of soil without a fine tilth, possibly too acidic and trying to handle those fiddly little onion seedlings has meant I’ve not done so well. I will likely give onions another go this autumn but I won’t stress too much should they not do so well. I will however, be planting potato onions when and wherever possible. I am mightily impressed by them. Potato onions are named for their method of growth, not their relationship to potatoes. Potato onions are definitely of the allium family but planting 1 bulb will see it divide and do its best to conquer its surrounds. 1 of the bulbs I planted resulted in 19 babies! Others were equally productive, possibly even more so. Given the quantity of bulbs to pull I gave up counting. πŸ˜€ Truly, I recommend them to anyone and the bulbs will be available for sale in February from here, ready for April planting. πŸ˜€

And the brown ones.

And the brown ones.

Anyway, I now have a problem. I need to find a place and the hooks to hang 16 braids of white potato onions, 8 of the brown ones, one braid of the standard brown onions and 11 braids of garlic. My kitchen curtain rail is groaning. πŸ˜€

An allium abundance

An allium abundance

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19 thoughts on “Know your onions

  1. Lynda says:

    Well Done, what an abundance. Im coming to have a look. Maybe steal some when you are not looking.

  2. Linda says:

    I have been looking for Potato Onions for a few years – lost them years ago. I can swap Tree Onions – would you be interested??? They are the ones that have the little onions at the top of the stems that you plant next time. I just keep continually planting them and using them as shallots.

  3. narf77 says:

    I am dead jealous! I haven’t even tried onions and discovered that in my zeal to remove weeds I had pulled out and thrown away my perennial leek 😦 bollocks! I am going to get some potato onions. I love me a crop that divides and conquers! Looking into planting mass day lilies, canna lilies and dahlias for food and colour now…perennial veggie gardening is the bomb! πŸ™‚

    • I’d say don’t bother with onions as these were easier by about a squillion to grow. πŸ™‚ Same rules apply though. The only thing is you may need to use 3-4 of them in place of 1 large onion but the extra peeling hassle is more than made up for in the ease of growing. πŸ™‚

      • narf77 says:

        As a vegan I spend most of my days peeling anyway so what’s a few more into the mix? They all go into the compost anyway so no-one loses ;). Cheers for the heads up and anything that goes mental on my arse has a place on Serendipity Farm so long as I can contain it (that’s for all you blackberries who have managed, through natural selection, to learn to read and who are attempting to undermine me from within! πŸ˜‰ )

        • Rent a goat, fence her in with some borrowed electric fencing (just enough to contain her for her safety from Earl) and come back next week (aside from checking water of course). Blackberry problem solved. And for those blackberries that can read this, You will NEVER escape the clutches of a hungry goat. They will eat your arse to the ground! Bwoah hahahahahahaha πŸ˜€

          • narf77 says:

            I wish Earl would eat blackberries. He looks SO much like a goat they try to come and check him out whenever we walk past paddocks with them in! ;).

  4. What bounty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You know, I tried to plait my garlic and couldn’t do it, wish I had seen this first πŸ™‚
    Feverfew for migraines, honestly it works great. I used to have the most crippling ones for years (two or three a week) but gave up plunger coffee and took feverfew for two months. Never another one in 8 years.

    • Feverfew you say. Hmmm. I dreamed about planting that the other day so I shall take it as a sign. I fortunately don’t get migraines too often, but every 4-8 weeks is often enough and even if they’re not the crippling ones of Tuesday they still knock me about pretty badly ad it’s hard on the kids because I simply can’t parent on those days when Martin isn’t home. They don’t mind being fed dodgy meals (cornchips or a bottle of peaches for lunch works for them) and the tv on all day to occupy them is far from ideal but needs must. Still, I’d love to be migraine free. I shall look into feverfew. Thanks.
      With braiding garlic etc you do need to make sure the stalks are dry or they can moulder but if they are too dry with which to work you can moisten them again. Softneck varieties braid far easier too. I have a mix of hardnek and softneck and the hardnecks are much harder to twist into order but even so you can braid them if you don’t mind them looking a little wonky. πŸ™‚

      • I made some garlic braids a few years back then just couldn’t get it together this week. Too late now but I shall remember this next year.

        You just need one plant, it then self seeds in little pockets everywhere…it’s got a cute wee daisy flower. Migraines are just awful, debilitating things and it’s hard to do the normal chores when you just want to curl up and hold your head screaming!!

  5. Linne says:

    Jess, if you are interested, I made a new page today for ‘useful links’. There’s only one there so far, but it’s ‘Diggers’. They say they have garlic nearly ready to sell and can now post some varieties to WA and to Tassie! So you might find something you like there, too . . .

    • Diggers Club have 3 retail outlets. One of them, the Garden of St Erth, is in Blackwood and 18 minutes drive from my place and that’s from where I got all my garlic and half the rest of my garden plants and seeds πŸ™‚ Diggers are awesome. πŸ˜€

      • Linne says:

        Should have known you’d know about them! But one never knows and I do like to share what I find (except for vintage kitchenware and the like) πŸ˜‰ I hadn’t realized the Garden of St. Erth was Diggers . . . I think they are awesome, too! Hope the feverfew helps with the migraines, too. No fun anytime, but when you have kids, homestead and all, it’s much worse, I think . . . have a great weekend, my friend. Mit viel Liebe, meiner Herztochter. ~ Linne

  6. […] also cracked open my jar of fermented onions I’d made using home-grown potato onions and following this recipe. I’d fermented them for around a week as the recipe suggests but […]

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