Onions and garlic are pretty well the only fresh foods that I regularly eat out of season. I don’t preserve much or dry much or freeze at all. I love the sense of being connected to the spinning of the planet that eating with the seasons brings, and every season has plenty enough variety even for an adventurous cook like me. Except for onions and garlic.
I grow spring onions, chives and garlic chives for eating fresh all year round, and bulbing onions in autumn and winter for fresh eating over spring and early summer, but this far north it’s hard to grow enough good storing varieties to last the rest of the year. Onions and garlic are strongly day-length sensitive. This far north I have to choose short to medium daylength varieties, or they go to seed without developing a bulb at all, and I only get a couple of months to plant them.
Every single one of the garlic cloves planted last month came up. That’s them planted out in the picture. They are all now about 20 cm tall and have a nice well developed root system. And I’ve freed up a bit of room in the garden, partly by moving the chooks on so I can plant out the bed they have been living in, and partly by eating lettuces and beets so I can plant where they were.
I am planting them out in groups of about half a dozen this time so I don’t lose so many. Garlic are antibiotic so I like to plant them in different spots around the garden as a disease control measure, but I’ve found that if I scatter them too far and wide I forget to harvest too many!
The potato onions haven’t done so well. I think it’s been a bit too warm and wet for them. About half came up and about half rotted before germinating. I have planted out the survivors and will see how they go. My climate may be too sub-tropical for them.
This planting break I’m also planting onion seed in seed boxes in the shadehouse. I plant onion seed in a very similar way to carrots. In fact, for much of the year I plant them mixed together. But this time of year I’ll plant tubes of the varieties for storing – Hunter River Brown and Lockyer Gold have been good varieties for me – on their own. I sow seed thinly and when they’re up, thin to about half a dozen per tube. I plant that lot out as they are – they will spread out a little all on their own after they are planted out. Like the garlic, I’m planting them in small clusters of about half a dozen tubes, so it is easier to find them to harvest, but scattered enough to take advantage of companion planting. Because they take such a long time to bear – nearly six months – being able to hold them in the shadehouse for a couple of months is a major advantage. By the time they are ready to go into the garden, all the spots now occupied by zucchini and squash will be free. And the planet will have spun into a new season.