Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Harvesting our Cipollini storage onions

I have this obsession with self sufficiency. To the extent that I won't grow veggie varieties that I know do well here in favor of trying new ones just because the ones I know will do well here are not heirloom varieties. Let me tell, you, not always the right idea when I'm really trying to feed my family first and use heirloom varieties second.

This year though I added a couple new heirloom varieties of onion, and one of them did really well. Well enough that I couldn't find anywhere other than the wood stove hearth that was a big enough space to dry them! Here are (most) of our Cipollini Onions, drying prior to storing them for the winter. These will be our storage onions this winter, hopefully they will do the trick and last us until next summer!

I also planted Walla Walla Onions, which aren't keeper onions, but they should feed us into the early fall. I haven't harvested them yet. Hopefully soon they will be ready but at the moment they are still standing firmly upright and growing. I haven't been as impressed with them, the bulbs just aren't sizing up like I would expect. Of course, I ended up planting them in a less-than-ideal spot, where they stayed a bit wetter than I think they would have liked. I'll give these another try next year and then decide if they deserve to stay in our garden longer term.

Because onion seeds really only last a year, I'll be trying to save and plant some of the cipollini's, and maybe some of the walla walla's too, and get some seeds from them next fall. Of course next spring I'll have to buy more seeds since onions don't flower the first year they are planted. I haven't decided yet whether I want to save some of the small ones as sets, or some of the large ones as that is the size I would rather encourage, but either way I'll keep some for planting.


  1. Good harvest! I just read an article about heirloom food plants that had the comment that the reason some of them are disappearing is that they weren't very good varieties. Maybe a point, as I recall some of my parents' and grandmother's varieties.
    But they were tough, as in 'sturdy' as well as in 'hard to chew'.

  2. That's a good point Mary. I think I'm most interested in being able to produce seeds on my own, which is possible with heirloom open pollinated varieties but not always with more modern varieties which are often hybrids. I'll just have to keep trying to weed through the 'hard to chew' ones to find the good old varieties :) or the newer ones that will still breed true :)


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