Judy Tonderum

Judy Thonderum

Onions are members of the lily family. Onions seem to have originated in the Eastern Mediterranean from Palistine to India. The Old Testament describes them as one of the items the Isralites longed for during their long sojourn in the desert.

Onions are so easy to grow and so useful in the kitchen that they should be part of every garden. They take up little space and demand very little attention.

Choose varieties that keep well in storage. Put them in conditions that meet their needs and this makes for a happy ending. The happy ending means a bin full of onions that can be used in soups, stews, sandwiches and salads.

Onions are very hardy. Put them out as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Plant in full sun in well-prepared soil. Apply one inch of water each week if weather is dry.

Onions can be planted three different ways. Onions can be planted from seed sown directly in the soil. Or they can be started from seedling transplants. Or they can be planted as onion sets in the soil. 

Onion sets are most often available in garden centers and farm stores in the spring. Onion sets are tiny onion bulbs grown the previous season and are the easiest way to start onions in the home garden. Side-dress onions with 10-10-10 fertilizer when plants are about twelve inches tall.

Harvest green onions (for eating fresh) when stems are pencil-sized. When the tops begin to yellow and fall over, mark your calendar. In two weeks dig up all the onions and spread them out in the sun for several hours to dry. Then collect them and spread the on screens or slats so they can cure for two to three weeks. 

After they are cured, knock off as much soil as possible and cut the dry tops to about 1 1/2 inches long. Do not peel the bulbs and do not wash them. 

Store the onions in mesh bags or wire baskets in a dry, cool place. If onions were damaged in some way, use those immediately.

There are many varieties of onions available in garden centers and seed catalogs. Some of them are Red Candy Apple, Texas Supersweet, Bermuda, WallaWalla, Vidalia, Red Hamburger, and Sweet Spanish. The yellow onions are the best keepers over red and white onions.

Onions are rich in compounds called flavonols which reduce the risk of several types of cancer and even improves memory.

It seems I use a lot of onions when I get in the cooking mood. I like them in fresh fried new potatoes, a thick WallaWalla on a hamburger, and grilled onions make any Iowa beef or pork dish even better. 

My onions are drying in wire baskets as I write this. I like to have a good supply put away for winter soups and casseroles.