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Posts Tagged ‘onion’

Herbs Early in My Small Kitchen Garden

Last year’s rhubarb project continues to look successful. Every plant in the new rhubarb bed has sprouted tiny wrinkly leaves. You’re supposed to harvest lightly in the year after planting. I may pretend that this is the second year after planting since I created the bed at the beginning of last season. I can say with authority: there will be pie.

March in central Pennsylvania is such a great time in my small kitchen garden because that’s when the earliest perennials push through the soil and have a look around. Oh, yeah? Not this year! Nope, we’re having a seriously late start to spring around here, and the early sprouts have been timid at best.

Despite the unseasonable cold and way more rain than my kitchen garden needs, I poked around two days ago to see what has sprung. The late early growth is tantalizing, but I’m not ready yet to start the annuals. I hope your kitchen gardens are farther along. Tell me: do you grow a particular fruit or vegetable that you anticipate above all others? I’d love to hear about it. Please let me know in a comment.

Remarkably similar in color to baby rhubarb leaves, tarragon emerges in my new herb bed. I started this bed last spring to receive rhubarb plants, but I realized it would take enormous energy to complete the bed. So, by late autumn I’d finished the bed and set herbs in it. Tarragon and thyme I’d started from seed last spring have wintered over nicely in the new bed. Just looking at these young sprouts makes plaque collect in my veins; I love to make béarnaise sauce and use it (instead of hollandaise) to smother eggs Benedict. More tarragon probably means more eggs Benedict. I’ll need a bigger belt.

Thyme is particularly hardy in these parts. This sprig, on a plant I started from seed last spring, has already produced abundant leaves despite the low temperatures. I expect to have several decent clumps of thyme within the next few years.

I don’t grow chives in my small kitchen garden; there’s no need. Wild onion is one of the most common “weeds” in this area. When the neighboring farmer mowed his hay field in past years, the air would smell of onions for several days! I created a new herb bed in late autumn last year, planted a few perennial herbs, and this spring there are several volunteer wild onions emerging in the bed. In some places, my lawn is more wild onion than it is grass.

The biggest mess in my new herb garden is a grouping of sage bushes that I removed from an old half barrel I’d planted, perhaps, ten years ago. The barrel stands empty awaiting a new assignment while the sage plants remain dormant. As the days warm (they will warm, right?), I expect plenty of new growth on these usually hardy plants. When I can easily see which sticks are alive, I’ll snap off the deadwood and save it to use in my smoker. Ribs, chicken, brisket, sausage… they all taste delightful when you smoke them with sage wood. Yes, that’s a downspout behind the plants; I may need to add an extender that carries rainwater across the bed so heavy storms won’t carve a hole in the herb garden.

 

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Onion Stalk Mischief

OnionFlower in a Small Kitchen Garden

In late spring or early summer, a starburst flower explodes on the top of an onion plant’s center stalk.

I hope you’re growing onions in your small kitchen garden. Onions provide a rather poor return on your gardening investment: if you don’t have much space for a garden, you’d do well to consider other plants that produce more food per square inch. However, onions put on an impressive display.

Most gardeners start with sets which are essentially tiny onions. Once planted, a set sprouts fleshy green shoots that grow a foot-and-a-half long and longer. Then, a ball starts to form with its top showing just above the soil’s surface. Through the growing season, that ball grows larger as the plant produces a starburst flower on its tallest stalk.

Onion in a Small Kitchen Garden

By the time the onion flowers, a ball has probably started to form between the stalk and the roots.

The flower eventually fades, leaving new onion plants ready to go in the soil. Finally, the fleshy green stalks wither, leaving only the onion itself stuck partway into the soil.

Life-Changing Onion Folklore

When I was a kid, my grandmother demonstrated a characteristic of onions that I’ve seen presented nowhere else. To impress upon you the full impact of this life-changing onion lore, I prepared a short video of the presentation she gave me those many years ago.

Please take two minutes to learn about this remarkable characteristic of onions so you can apply the knowledge in your own small kitchen garden:

 

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