surprise

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.

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11 Responses to “surprise”

  1. No one is living in the home I grew up in and we will think about selling it soon, but for right now it is empty and we go by every now and then. I was startled one day to notice green shoots growing out of a basket on top of the refrigerator that I thought was empty. I had forgotten that Mom and Dad used to keep onions in that basket and like you, used them quickly. Someone finally pitched it, but I was curious just how tall that onion sprout would have gotten. I am glad you figured out a way to keep them and use them.

    • I’m sorry to hear you’ll have to sell your childhood home eventually. I can imagine how poignant these days are, when it is still with you. Yes, apparently the onion stalks would’ve gotten quite big — or at least big enough to eat 🙂 But that’s only what I’ve heard for now… we’ll see how it goes!

  2. I’ve never had the onions sprout because, like you, we eat them too quickly. I love spring onions, too, but not if they make me tear up – lol!

    Today it is so frigid outside that even the memory of the garden is far away from me…

    • I’m with you on the no tearing up 😉 Seems to defeat the purpose of enjoying good food somehow.

      Oh, Talon, I wish I could send you a breath of warm air to bring back those memories. But knowing what’s coming in a Canadian winter, it’s probably better to let the memories go dormant as you work on your indoor passions!

  3. Wow those are impressive sprouts! I have seen sprouts from onions before, but not that big. Glad you figured out how to use them.

  4. Lovely header photo! I have had onions sprout like that and you can plant them. I am jealous of your being able to plant cabbage after Valentines Day! I will still be under a few feet of snow most likely. 😉 Carol

  5. Wow, that is quite the sprout. I have never had a onion do such a sprout like that. And cabbage after Valentines Day. OOh that would be my dream to have a garden that early in the ground. Our gardens go in at the end of May if we are lucky =:( So for now I will enjoy yours. Also I guess there is a congratulations in order. You have been recently married. Congratulations and all the best to you and your husband for the new year.

    • Well, we all have our limitations and challenges, and every bioregion has its pluses and minuses. A few weeks ago, I was lamenting all the flowers I cannot grow because they can’t tolerate the heat and humidity for long 🙂 But I’ll be so happy for you to come by and enjoy mine, whatever I’ve got going here in the journal.

      Thank you for the congratulations! We’ll be having our one-month anniversary tomorrow, as a matter of fact. (My husband asked if we’re going to have to acknowledge every month’s passing as an anniversary, when I pointed this out. Hehehe.)

  6. You have a most stylish-looking blog! I’d love to hear more about your garden design, as I’m also trying to set up a hedged kitchen garden. Thanks, too, for your comment on my blog.
    As far as the onions are concerned: yes, ours often sprout in the kitchen, too, especially if kept in the dark pantry. We live in a much colder clime than you do, though, and here at least there are special varieties of “winter onions” which can be planted until the end of December and then eaten early in the spring when they sprout. Common yellow kitchen onions won’t work. But they might where you are. Good luck!

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