Why Is That Woman Still Going On About Onions?

Why Is That Woman Still Going On About Onions?

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Why am I still writing about onions?

Because at this time of year, when I’m grumpy about the seed-starting thing…Why won’t those peppers and eggplants germinate?  Why am I spending all this time in my dank basement, where some previous owner covered over all the windows with plywood?  Why I am down here with the watering can day and night like an overzealous busboy?  …

…that’s when I really appreciate how easy the allium family is to get going from seed.

I’ve been growing leeks from seed for years because the nurseries near me don’t, and because my kids love potato-leek soup.  I start them in the house, just on a windowsill, at some point early, anywhere from late February to late March.  They are forgiving about the timing, forgiving about everything.  They germinate in a snap. They don’t need to be thinned.  Even though they generally look spindly, crowded, and frail by the time I poke my index finger in the ground in late May to make room for them in the garden, they are always perfect by late summer.


Onions getting ready to do their thing

Scallions, I just direct-seed a few times a summer–again, easy, forgiving.

My onions on the other hand, I used to grow carelessly from sets, or small bulbs.  But in 2009, my local Agway stopped carrying onion sets, so beginning last year, I started them from seed, too.  I chose a flat Italian red variety called Piatta di Bergamo because I thought they looked cool. They also did so well that I wound up using them for everything, sauteeing them for dishes in which I’d ordinarily use a yellow onion.  And they were so sweet and profound in every dish I used them in, that this year, I’ve added another Italian red variety, Tropea Rossa Tondo.

I love the fact that onion seedlings keep me out of the basement.  These are long day varieties, which means that they wait to bulb up until the days get long.  So, according to the onion lore, you don’t even want to set them in the basement along with the 16-hour-a-day fluorescent light hogs, or else they might bulb up as infants.

I understand that certain things represent compelling reasons to spend time in the basement: ‘Pineapple’ and ‘Matt’s Wild Cherry’ tomatoes, and ‘Rosa Bianca’ eggplants.  But I think if I could get everything going above-grade, I’d be a cheerier person.

Posted by

Michele Owens
on March 25, 2011 at 4:19 am, in the category Eat This.

3 Comments
    • Gail
    • 29th October 2016

    I too start my vegetable/herb & some flower seeds underground. I have attempted to lightening the basement up by painting the walls white. With 7 sets of grow lights 5 which are currently used for all my overwintering annuals and timers for the lights my neighbors ask what is going on in the basement as sometimes the timers due to power outages or me forgetting to unplug are on 24 hours/day.
    My annual seed starting will commence today a 10 day departure from my self imposed March 15th start date. The 14+ inches of snow storm on Wednesday is not helping my motivation. But there is no better thrill every year to see those tomato seeds pop up out of the soil and have the satisfaction that everything will be all right this growing season.

    • admin
    • 10th November 2016

    I had no luck. They sprouted, grew about 3″ tall and then turned brown on top and died. I don’t usually have problems starting seeds but this is the first time I’ve tried onions.

    • Wendy at Muck About
    • 10th November 2016

    How about sharing your potato-leek soup recipe? I’m just finishing the harvest of my overwintered leeks and my family would appreciate the change from French “onion” (really leek) soup.

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