I am harvesting full grown, delicious, juicy onions in late June. This has not been my normal experience for my southwest Idaho garden, but I think I know how it happened this time. It all started just over a year ago…
For the 2012 gardening season, I was trying a lot of interplanting. Some of it ended up being too close for the vegetables involved. Some of my onions, for instance, started from seed directly in the garden bed, were overcome by the lettuce that I let bolt and go to seed. The lettuce was lush and tall by July and the onions stayed tiny, barely surviving at the bottom of the forest.
I don’t regret the lettuce, because we were eating fresh salads well into November, then practically in February again. I plan to let my lettuce go to seed every year. But I was disappointed in the onion yield. Until this June, that is.
Those same onions took full advantage of the sunlight after the last of the spring lettuce was weeded out near the beginning of June. (we couldn’t eat it fast enough!) Of course, the onions had also been given some room to grow in between crops of lettuce. During the late fall, the lettuce was small. Then, again in the early spring, before the lettuce got large, the onions had some growing space.
The end result is that I have nearly softball size onions well ahead of the onions I planted from seed this spring. Some of those onions I started in the greenhouse, and the tops are looking quite robust, but the bulbs have a ways to go. I also planted some onion seed in the same row, again to experiment with planting procedures.
The 15 month onions are beginning to flower, but that hasn’t seemed to affect their eating quality so far. I may go out and cut some of the tops off, just to compare. The row is still packed with onions, not all quite so large yet. The row now also has some corn. The corn is suffering a little from the thick, tall onion stems falling over on it.
If I had been too quick with my garden clean-up, or pulled the scrawny onions is disgust earlier this spring, I would not be enjoying this onion harvest now. Even though it looks like they are all trying to burst out of the ground, they are the happiest onions I have ever grown. Sometimes, I guess, you just can’t plan perfection.