Survival of the Onions

This a sampling of our onions and shallots which have been stored together in a small bushel basket all winter. The only place available to store them was on our basement cement floor which is at least a little cool. Most survived very well , onions being a very practical vegetable, dazzling only with taste and storability. I tried dangling one with green shoots in a glass vase, but it insisted on being practical only. It remained a green stalk, never destined for a spectacular flower, only interested in producing more seed in its down to earth way.

Of the three kinds I grew, only the flattened cipollini type called Gold Coin didn’t make it to March, going soft already in January. The two varieties which did endure were New York Early from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Rossa Di Milano from Seeds of Change. Both of these are non-hybrid and are listed as hard storage onions. They are especially to be congratulated since my storage conditions are so far from the ideal near freezing and 65-70% humidity that is recommended. Our conditions are closer to 60 degrees and 50% humidity.

But the blue ribbon for storage goes to the Matador hybrid shallots that I grew from seed, from Cook’s Garden (online store only for some reason). They are still perfectly hard and crisp – not one has gone soft or put out a shoot . They are the ones in the photo with no green shoots. At this rate, I expect another month or two of storage, but I now have room to put the rest in the refrigerator to improve their life extension. This leads me to my plan of growing more shallots this year – I’ll plant more Matador and add Johnny’s Ambition hybrid with red skin – which should be a colorful addition. If you have ever checked out the price per pound of shallots, especially organic, you will want to try growing and storing them. At my health store, they are over six dollars per pound! I also bought seeds for the onion Ailsa Craig Exhibition which is only for short term storage. Its virtue is that it is supposed to be sweet for fresh eating. And I love fresh onion on everything from salsa to salad to roll ups.

Onions may not be glamorous, but I could never leave them out of the garden…..

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