When I first thought about growing onions I was really unsure what was the best way to start. I wondered if I should grow them from seed or buy onion sets from a nursery. I worried what was the best variety to choose. But I always knew what I wanted to be the outcome. I wanted my kids to know that the best food doesn't come off a supermarket shelf. It comes from planting and tending for something yourself and from that satisfied feeling that your stock of winter food is stored out back. I wanted to give them that sense of comfort that comes from growing food to see you through the dark days. But that wasn't the only reason.
The Best Reason for Growing Onions
When I was a kid I used to play in my grandfather's old wooden garage out back in his yard. Now this garage was a magical place to a kid. The car didn't live in there, the garage was too full of stuff for that. There was a old wooden bench, woodworking tools, nails and screws of every size in neatly labeled coffee jars. There was a light dusting of sawdust on the floor There were big baskets that hung from the roof and were filled up with apples every Fall. The other things that hung from the rafters in the late Fall were strings of big, juicy, beatiful onions. The two smells mixed and mingled together, the ripe apples and the drying onions, to me they bring back that very special place and time. I learned to use a hammer and nails, how to saw a piece of wood, how to listen and take instructions in that old garage. I wanted my shed to smell like that and to be a place where my kids could learn about growing stuff and making stuff.
My grandfather grew two kinds of onion. There were the little fierce ones that my grandmother paid me to peel. They were for pickling in white vinegar. My eyes still smart at the thought of them! But those pickles were the best I ever had and it was a great way to make a bit of extra pocket money.
The other kind of onions he grew were huge round ones. His party trick, one of the many, was to cut one of these huge, juicy guys off of the rope and bite right into it! He'd eat it just like an apple! My friends would look on horrified and back away if he offered them a slice. Then he'd give me a bit and I'd chomp away with a big grin on my face, because those onions were as sweet, or maybe even sweeter than the apples.
What Happened When I Grew My Own Onions
I decided to try growing some of those big, sweet onions. I had a lot of trouble tracking them down but eventually I found some called Vidalias (Yellow Granex F1 Hybrids). The description sounded about right and the picture was a big, round, onion, just like the ones I remembered.
I couldn't get seeds so I sent off for a bunch of young plants and I never regretted it. They grew into mouth-watering, big juicy onions and at the end of the season I plaited them into ropes and hung them on the shed to dry. They hung from the roof of the shed all winter and every time I cut some for the pot it took me back to those happy days.
Why Don't You Try Growing Onions?
So if you would like to have a go at growing onions, just like I did? I'm sure you won't regret it!