It was time to harvest the onions. Planted into the garden before St. Patricks Day they had run their course. Most of the green onion tops had started to turn yellow and had fallen over naturally. So we waited another week or so and then early one morning pulled back that thick straw mulch and started pulling up the bulbs. The pulled onions were hung over the remaining pea fence to continue to dry for a day or two. You do not wash them or even wipe the dirt off. You want them to air out and the sun to dry out that outer brown membrane on onions. However if you leave them in the sun too long they will turn green like potatoes.
You remember those young onions planted in between the English peas and potatoes early this spring. Mulched heavily and left to grow through the season.
And a few months later that same view. The peas have long since been harvested and preserved and the pea seeds saved for next year. The pea vines are now compost and in their place along the fence are horticulture beans and pickling cucumbers climbing on the fence for fall. The potatoes are still under the straw but the tops are almost completely dead and we steal potatoes from under the straw regularly for meals.
Here you can see the onions curing on the fence and the horticulture beans planted along the base of the pea fence with cucumbers vining intermittently all along the beans to climb upward while the beans help to fix nitrogen in the soil to feed the cucumbers and covering the soil thus helping to conserve moisture. Nothing loses moisture faster than bare soil. The beans and cukes are mulched heavily to also conserve moisture and control weeds.
While the straw is pulled back to pick the onions we are also adding some composted bunny manure to work in the soil for the next crop.
We do not cut the leaves off until they are completely dry and brown. Then they are cut off about 2 inches above the neck of the onion. You want the leaves to completely dry and the neck to close up to seal the onion in a protective layer beneath. This is especially important if you are keeping your onions over a long period of time.
Once they hang on the fence for a day or so then the onions are moved to a drying rack. This is nothing more than an old screen door and two saw horses set up in a semi cool dry shed. Yes we are a class act! Here they will dry for no less than 2 weeks to cure
Once cured I will take these onions and chop some to go into the freezer in plastic bags for cooking throughout the year. I cook with lots of onions. Others will be dehydrated for winter use as well. Some we will just use throughout the summer fresh in salsa and other canned goods and pickles. Many will be eaten throughout the summer with meals of fresh vegetables. We still have one more patch of unharvested onions in the garden and a small patch of green onions.
But for now another crop out of the ground and ready to preserve for the coming winter. Fresh, organic and homegrown. Produced right here in the holler we watched these seed come up in February and dug them in July.
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter