Tags: cabbage transplants, germination, growing garlic, growing green onions, growing scallions, impatient gardener, lettuce planting tip, onion sprouting, scallions, soil temperature, speeding the harvest, spring onions with bite
When we got back home from our honeymoon, I found two of my onions sprouted. Majorly sprouted, actually. Somehow, even though I’ve been buying huge bags of yellow onions for years now, I’d never seen this happen before. But then, yellow onions are a staple in my kitchen, and they tend to disappear quickly.
I was not sure what to do with them. F. said we could plant them, and that idea didn’t sound half bad to me. I mean they’re basically doing exactly what my rows of garlic are now doing. Only they are doing it while sitting on my kitchen counter.
Of course I sought some advice first. Granddaddy says to pop them in the ground and eat the shoots as early spring onions, but not to expect a new bulb to form. This suggestion is perfect for us, as I would hate to just toss them into the compost pile (such a waste), and because F. cannot get enough of spring onions.
He and my mother share a love of those zesty spring treats. I like them, too. I’m just not a fanatic.
F. especially likes them with some bite. I was most gratified when the scallions I grew from seed this year met with his approval, because he’s been consistently disappointed in what we get from grocery stores and even farmer’s markets. If they’re not strong enough to make my eyes water, they’re probably not up to his personal standard. I like them sharp, but not so much so that all I can taste of my meal afterward is spring onion. (Although F. kept insisting that good food should be able to equal and complement this strength, and I must say the garden’s produce held up quite well this summer in mixed meals. Winners were the okra, the small cucumbers, and Cherokee Purple and chocolate cherry tomatoes. Yum.)
Have any of you ever had sprouting onions in your kitchen? I wonder how common it is.
This bag was of organically grown onions, from a grower only one state over, which makes me wonder if conventionally-grown onions come pre-doused in some growth inhibitor. That’s how they keep grocery store potatoes from sprouting, supposedly, although in my kitchen they still sprout all the time, especially those little red Pontiacs which are a regionally adapted variety.
The sprouts are almost four inches tall now. I think I’ll just put them in a big planter by the kitchen door. After a little hardening off, of course.
Who knows? If this works well enough, I might buy a couple of bags of onions next time: one to cook and eat now, and one to sprout for early scallions, way ahead of when the ones from seed will be ready. I’m always on the lookout for little shortcuts and tricks to lengthen the harvest season, or to kick off the growing season early.
I’m at that point in winter where my garden desire is intensifying rapidly, beginning to spiral to dizzying heights. Every time I go outside, I carry a vision and a mental date-book in my head.
Cabbage transplants will be going in the ground the day after Valentine’s Day, if conditions permit, and I might get some lettuce seedlings started indoors in early February. I learned just this week that if you begin your lettuce seedlings indoors, in a heated home, but in a spot not above 70 degrees, the maturing plants are less likely to bolt as spring temperatures give way to summer’s heat. Apparently, soil temperature at germination presets their internal temperature gauges so they are not quite so impatient to flower.
I think my spring-planting gauge was set incorrectly years ago. Gardeners are supposed to be the soul of patience, according to folk wisdom, and God knows my grandfather never seemed in a hurry in his fields. But then, he had over a hundred acres in cultivation and 50 years’ experience under his belt when I first walked those fields with him. Maybe it just comes with time, this gardener-patience thing.
I’m not quite to impatient level yet, but it’s definitely on the horizon. Maybe I’ll start a few of those lettuce seeds in late January, just as a preventative measure.