Tag Archives: onions

Onion harvest

Harvested the majority of my onions yesterday.

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I’m paranoid that they might get stolen so I harvested as many as possible. You can do so once the leaves fall over. The tops were greener than when I’ve harvested in the past, but they had fallen over, hopefully on their own, so were fair game. I left 3 behind that were still upright.

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The one on the left had fallen over this evening so I pulled it up. Two left!

If you want no fuss veggies, these are definitely at the top of my list. Once I plant the bulbs, I water and forget about them. I harvest some tops when they are young (later they get tougher) to use as green onions. The fresh bulbs are delicious or you can dry and store them long term. No pests to deal with. A dream crop!

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Young onions

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Harvest moon

In honour of the upcoming harvest moon, I thought I’d look back on some of the harvests of the season:

Red and yellow pear tomatoes. I think there's some dandelion under there somewhere...

Red and yellow pear tomatoes. I think there’s some dandelion under there somewhere…

It's as big as my forearm! And was mighty tasty despite its size.

It’s as big as my forearm! And was mighty tasty despite its size.

Zucchini blossoms bring some brightness to the green of the cucumbers, dandelion, beans, sage and chives.

Zucchini blossoms add a splash of brightness to the greens – cucumber, zucchini, beet greens, peas, mint, chives and thyme

All stages of the 5 colour Chinese peppers represented: purple, white, yellow, orange and red!

All stages of the 5 colour Chinese peppers: purple, white, yellow, orange and red!

Goodness from the roots: beets and carrots

Goodness from the roots: beets and carrots

Beet power!!!

Beet power!!!

Eat your greens!

Eat your greens – red romaine and kale from my uncle’s greenhouse, with some chives thrown in for good measure

One of the first harvests: onions, pear tomatoes, a cracked acorn squash, and some herbs

One of the first harvests: onions, pear tomatoes, a cracked baby acorn squash (my cousin hit it with the lawnmower by accident), and some herbs (sage, mint, chives, and thyme)

Feast-a-plenty!

Feast-a-plenty!

Happy harvesting!

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Critters 2: … and the ugly!

I came across these cute (and gross) creepy crawlies last Friday. They were all over the kale in the greenhouse. At the time I thought they were caterpillars but I later learned, through a lot of Google image searching, that they are cabbage worms or cabbage loopers. They attack brassica family plants, such as the kale and collard greens that are currently in the garden.

These guys hide in plain site. I almost didn't see them, and then I saw a ton of them!

These guys hide in plain site. I almost didn’t see them, and then I saw a ton of them!

According to About.com, the worms are the larva of the cabbage white butterfly. As soon as I read this, I remembered chasing a little white butterfly with my camera as he fluttered through the garden not long ago. At the time, of course, I thought it was so cute. Little did I know, their larva are the ultimate ugly.

What’s ugly is the amount of damage these little buggers can create. Unbelievable.

They have teeth!

They’re eating the kale right before my eyes!

I thought about picking them directly off the plants but I couldn’t bring myself to handle their soft, squishy bodies with my bare hands. Stroking their backs was as brave as I could get (they’re furry!).  Seeing their little mouths chomping on the kale was another deterrent from picking them up. I didn’t want to get bitten :).

I came across this interesting post yesterday by Urban Organic Gardener while I was searching for  information about cabbage worms. His post showed that the black spots in my picture below are actually worm poo and not aphids as I’d thought.

I thought this was aphids

That’s a lot of poo, which can only mean — a lot of worms! Nooo!

I managed to pick up a copy of Grow Great Grub and You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail from my local  Hamilton Public Library branch. I remember the books having sections on organic pest control (as most gardening books do) that I had ignored in the past but now I desperately wanted some reliable info on cabbage worms.

Here are just some of the recommendations from the books and entries from Hubpages and Better Homes and Gardens that I came across:

1. Companion planting – with items such as Aster family flowers (which if Wikipedia can be believed includes sunflowers, yarrow, and calendula), onions, and sage that either deter the worms or attract insects that will prey on them. Note that the examples I used are all growing in my garden. The sunflowers and calendula are close by but they aren’t in full bloom yet.

2. Use floating row covers to keep the butterfly from laying its eggs on your brassicas.

3. Handpick the little buggers off of your plants.

First calendula bloom of season.

First calendula bloom of season. Hopefully it will attract some predatory wasps to eat the cabbage worms.

I took home some collard and beet greens last Friday. When I got around to washing them on Sunday, I found two worms had hitched a ride and survived the fridge (well, one was moving in the water; the other wasn’t). A clear reminder to check my leaves carefully before I bag them.

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“Mysteries” of the garden

My cousin picked me up from work on Friday so we could check out the organic farmer’s market on scenic drive. It was a pretty small market, about 6 vendors outside Scenic Drive Convenience Store, at Scenic Drive and Upper Paradise Road. She’s trying to lose weight for a wedding in August by increasing her consumption of greens and veggies. She’s decided that heirloom vegetables are what she wants to eat. It was funny to note that she had no idea that I was using organic and heirloom seeds and plants in the backyard. She picked up some kale and greens from Japan (looked like bok choy and name begins with a K). I was happy to sample blueberry pie and apple strudel while she made her choices and I learned from one of the farmers that a plant I had picked on the trail near James street stairs was from the spirea family (he was selling some). I’m trying to see if I can root it for transplant.

Not long after we came home, the sky turned dark. Storm clouds rolled in and the rain started coming down sideways. I was disappointed. I’d planned to quickly plant another strawberry that I picked up at Urban Harvest on Wednesday, take stock of what was going on in the garden, and then head back to Toronto. About an hour, tops. It had been a long week of commuting after recovering from a cold that had kept me off work last Thursday and Friday and in bed for most of the weekend. I wanted to head home at a reasonable time so that I could relax and enjoy my weekend. However, I wasn’t prepared to travel home in a storm so resigned myself to staying the night. I was dying to see what was happening out there so when the rain let up, I went out to check things out.

Snail on the prowl

Snail on the prowl after the rain

The first thing that caught my eye was mysterious little sprouts all across my beds. And then I remembered that my cousin had warned me – “don’t blame me…” she had started. My uncle had decided before he went away for work again (he goes every other month for a month) that he would sprinkle down “mystery” seeds in every space that was unoccupied. This included walkways.

My uncle's "sprinkle" method inside the greenhouse

My uncle’s planting method inside the greenhouse. This is how I knew he was to blame for what I saw below…

"Mystery" seeds around my tomatoes!!!

“Mystery” seeds around my tomatoes!!! Argh!!!

Clearly he doesn’t understand square foot gardening method. And, as I mentioned, he likes to do things his own way. Well, so do I. I had planned to put some companion spicy salad greens and basil on every corner of the tomato plants (ie. 4 plants to one tomato plant) so I proceeded to do so. We’ll see whose seeds to better. Did I mention I was stubborn?

Some plants are doing quite well after about a week and a half. Others not so well.

Onions are doing well

Onions are coming along

Apparently I didn't need to worry about the zucchini

Apparently I didn’t need to worry about the zucchini. I’ll have to remove the smaller plant.

One of two pea plants coming up.

One of two pea plants coming up.

I was disappointed to find that neither the butternut squash nor the nasturtium had come up so I planted more seeds. Also, surprisingly, no borage! That stuff grows like mad. I planted a few more seeds near the strawberries. I also put down some spinach because I had seen in one of the companion planting charts that it was a good companion for strawberries.

This strawberry plant is larger than the first one I bought and has a small strawberry growing already.

This is the first strawberry plant I bought. It doesn’t seem to be doing much right now. The new plant I ot is larger and already has a small strawberry growing on it.

It’s a mystery why some plants do better than others. A combination of seed issues (eg. germination rates),  soil and weather conditions, water,  pests… Nevertheless, nature always finds a way to reproduce. I have a feel that although some things are coming along more slowly than I had expected, it will be a very productive garden. I also have a feeling that I’ll have to put in a lot more work than last year. Damn.

My uncle's okra are really coming along.

My uncle’s okra are really coming along. I wonder where he’s going to put them…

My uncle's section of the garden.

My uncle’s section of the garden.

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Pilfered! The curse of the community garden

The one negative about being part of a community garden is that, inevitably, there are thefts. My community garden is completely open to the public. No fences or locks, just a large open space filled with plots. Apparently too tempting for some people. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I passed by my garden on Tuesday night to find that someone had stolen a bunch of my onions!

Pilfered onions – drat! And look what they did to my tomato plant!!

I decided to come by after a relaxing Zen stretch class at the Yoga Sanctuary. I strolled slowly passed the raspberry bushes, helped myself to a few. Then I remembered the gooseberry bush in the community area. So I went over and took some pictures. Afterwards I walked lazily over to my plot, feeling that all was well with the world, until I was shocked back to reality: I’d been robbed!

The biggest insults:

  • they cut off the onion greens and threw them back into the plot (such a waste!)
  • they knocked over my tomato plant!!!

I took a deep cleansing breath, sighed, and cleaned up the greens. I pulled out the remaining onions and staked the poor tomato plant. Then I thought about the bright side: the thief did make some much needed room for the zucchini plant, which had gotten insanely big when I wasn’t looking.

Zucchini plant beginning to flourish

As I walked away from the plot, I noticed more discarded onion greens on the grass! What makes me mad is that they are perfectly edible! Why would you just discard them?

Discarded onion greens

Had some gooseberries on the way home. They taste kinda like grapes. Brought me back to a peaceful state.

Gooseberries – they look like Chinese lanterns

My family wanted nothing to do with the discarded onion greens. Luckily I was able to tell my sob story to some friends I met with on Wednesday night. One of them realized she could make something with the greens and took them off my hands. I was able to give some onions to the hostess and was still left with some for myself. We had a nice evening in her back yard, enjoying the hot summer air, good conversation, and her beautiful backyard garden. Someday, I will know such bliss…

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Crazy bounty – Onions

It begins! The incredible bounty that results in trying to pass off your produce onto anyone that will take them.

16 onion sets May 8th

Kinda cute when they’re young, May 19th

Square foot gardening technique says that you can plant 16 onion sets in one square foot. The idea is to harvest green onions regularly and then leave 4 or so to  become the mature yellow, red, or white onions (depending on what you planted). For some  reason that now escapes me, I decided to plant 3 squares of 16 onion sets, thereby producing 48 green onions! What was I thinking?! Clearly I wasn’t thinking.

Insanity – 3 square feet of onions, June 3rd

One square foot, June 18th

My family and I are not eating them as quickly as I’d hoped (they get pretty big as you can see) so I’ve been giving them away to friends, colleagues, and even strangers. About two weeks ago I was leaving the gardens with some onions when I passed by an old East European-looking lady sitting on her front steps in her house-dress and babushka, screen door propped open with her knee, eating what looked like peas out of a small cooking pot. Initially I walked by, thinking “should I…?” I stopped a few houses down from her to see if the two cats felt like pets, but they ignored me. By then I’d built up the courage to turn back and walk up to the lady. I smiled and asked, “would you like an onion?” She inspected it and asked “what” it was. I said, “it’s an onion from my garden. I have lots.”  She inspected it again, scrunched up her face, and said, “noh!”, waving it and me away with a swipe of her hand. I said, “OK”, and walked away. Doesn’t hurt to ask.

Harvest, June 10th

Harvest, June 24th

One of the garden coordinators recently stated that as most people are starting to produce a bounty of crops now, they plan to organize a Monday evening drop off of extra edibles to a local food bank. That way nothing goes to waste and we can reduce our efforts at unloading on friends, neighbours, and the unsuspecting public.

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